Sunday, 24 October 2010

A basic online campaigning guide - Part 2a - Strategy for building your databases

Most online campaigners naturally want as much control over when they send out their messages, to who and exactly what they say.

The most common online databases that need to be maintained now are:
  • Mobile numbers (increasingly there is an overlap between mobile text messages and internet use)
  • Email addresses (used by almost everyone online)
  • Facebook (used by the majority of the online population)
  • Twitter (still relatively small but useful in many circumstances
Here are some simple things you can do to boost the numbers of people you have in each.

1. Building email and mobile phone number lists
  • Gather up all your existing emails from everyone in your organisation. Clarify the permissions you have, and, if necessary, contact people to re-confirm their opt-ins
  • Make email sign up forms prominent on your website, and on every offline response slip you create
  • Use email as the primary way to register for events
  • Collect emails at events
  • Use petitions where the primary way of signing up is by email. This is the main recruitment mechanism used by Avaaz.
  • Create a funnel of people who might be interested to sign up and ask them if they want to sign up. Conversion rates can be very high. Sources include Facebook friends and pages, Twitter followers, email contacts (many people have hundreds saved so even in a small organisation there are a lot) and Customer relationship databases / other general databases. Simply contact these people and ask them to sign up.
This will be the subject of a separate article, but in brief the key things you need to do are:
  • Use a Facebook page, not a group, because your status updates appear in your fans' newsfeeds (where people spend 80% of their online time)
  • Get a vanity URL such as - which is both easier to put on offline literature and better optimised for search engines such as Google.
This will also be the subject of a separate article, but as with Facebook and email one of the crucial elements of building a following is to cross-promote your Twitter feed via Facebook and email and vice versa.

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