List Building & Retention

12 Ways to Maximize Your List Building Strategy

Minute read
12 Ways to Maximize Your List Building Strategy

When you hear of organizations that have amassed millions of online supporters, the first question that often comes to mind is: where did they all come from!? (Followed by: can I have some?) Few organizations talk about their list building strategies, which can be confounding for new advocates. But often these strategies boil down to some fairly universal tactics. If you want in, be warned: what lies ahead will demand time, energy, and consistency. Let’s break it down.

1. Choose the right entry points

Rushing into building your list without first identifying the right list entry points is like sending a rocket into space with slightly the wrong bearing. Things might look okay initially, but over time, small misalignments can send your strategy way off-course. If your organization relies on the active involvement of your supporters, you’ll need ‘ active’ list building entry points (not passive ones). Learn the difference and know how to make the right call. This decision will set the trajectory for your entire list building strategy.

2. Increase your entry points

Find ways to weave call-to-action (CTA) forms with contact capture into your content wherever you can. Pledges, petitions, and advocacies are great examples. Use SEO to increase exposure to your best performing pages. If you have an information-only page that attracts high volume search traffic, find a meaningful way to integrate a contact capture CTA into that page, too.

3. Increase traffic to your entry points

When there’s a choice to be made between promoting an information-only page or a page containing a contact capture form, preference the latter. Make contact capture a digital priority. Ensure that everyone who produces your online content knows the expectation, too.

4. Make it easy to opt in

Set up your contact forms so that opting in is the easiest choice (while respecting GDPR).

5. Capture the right info

Never fail to request your supporter’s first name. Without this, it will be challenging to communicate effectively with them. Along with your supporter’s contact information, also capture how they joined your list. Did they donate? Did they sign an action page for a specific campaign? Did they request recipes? Harnessing behavioral data like this will help you meaningfully segment your list.

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6. Tap in to social

Use social media to fuel actions on your website. This is an easy way to reach an engaged audience. Increase the exposure of your action pages by including prominent social share buttons as part of your on-page journey.

7. Think beyond email

If you hope to build a direct mail or SMS broadcast list, selectively request permission to capture postal addresses and phone numbers on appropriate pages. Free ‘asset offers’, donation pages, contact pages, and more-involved action pages are great places to try this.

8. Claim what’s yours

If you use a third party action platform (like a petition website), find out if they will share action contacts with you. If so, integrate those contacts promptly into your list.

9. Welcome new recruits

When someone first joins your list, follow up with a prompt ‘thank you’ or ‘welcome’ email that acknowledges their action and subscription. If the first email they get from you after taking action is an off-topic impersonal mass broadcast, your supporter may struggle to recall how or when they joined your list. This erodes trust and risks your emails being flagged as spam.

10. Make sure you’re measuring the right thing

You’ll never know whether your list building efforts are paying off unless you’ve defined the right measure of success. Think beyond list size. How does a larger list actually get your organization closer to realizing its vision? Here’s what you need to know about setting meaningful list-building goals that are relevant to your organization. This will keep you focussed and justify all the hard work required to see your strategy through to success!

11. Don’t settle for mediocre results

Strengthen your list building efforts by using analytics and split testing to measure and optimize your entry points.

12. Make it sustainable

Your list-building effort will come undone without a supporter retention strategy to back it up. Make retention part of your plan from the outset.

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Karen Nilsen

Hi there! I’m Karen. I’m on a mission to reach my former self. Had I known 10 years ago what I know today, I could have achieved more good, made fewer mistakes, and had more weekends. Every time we share what works, we win faster. Let’s create digital experiences that move people — that grow our base and fuel our movements. Are you with me? Please share this with someone you know who wants to up their digital game!

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