The petition has launched. What’s next?
Welcome to the blog series: What’s Next?
In this series, we’ll look at different outreach events and explore ideas for moving the project forward to the next step – even if the event didn’t go as well as you had hoped it would.
THE OUTREACH EVENT
You launched a petition to receive signatures supporting a new regulation to protect a critical species or natural resource. The goal is to achieve 40,000 signatures within four months. It’s the petition’s final month, and you check the signature count to find…
SCENARIO A: You achieved or surpassed your goal! Nice work!
SCENARIO B: You have yet to receive 40,000 signatures; the count is about two-thirds of the way there.
Let’s explore how we can move the project forward for both scenarios.
You reached your goal (and more). Yay! What’s next? ⇄
Let everyone involved in designing and implementing the project know that the milestone was hit. Take a moment to celebrate.
It’s beneficial to assess what worked well and should be repeated in the future and where improvements can be made.
Skipping the assessment step can be easy to do when projects go well, but capturing the “good” and “could be better” aspects increases the success rate of future projects.
→ Here is a learning document you can download and use for your projects.
DO YOU NEED MORE SIGNATURES?
If the petition benefits from a “more the merrier” outcome, consider launching a phase 2 goal for signatures.
You can share your excitement – even your bewilderment – that the support for the regulation exceeded expectations and prompted the organization to go bigger. Ask those who have already signed the petition to share it with their friends and family members and on social media.
DO YOU HAVE ENOUGH SIGNATURES TO MOVE FORWARD?
This is excellent news, but it should not be a time when the organization goes dark or “ghosts” the petition audience, which can sometimes happen if we haven’t planned for the next step.
Email everyone who signed the petition to share the good news (“we hit our goal!”) and outline the next steps for putting the petition in front of lawmakers. Commit to keeping the audience updated as the regulatory process progresses – many folks will enjoy learning about the process and will appreciate the transparency.
Then, consider how else you can engage the audience in the larger mission. Is there something they can do next, like write a letter to their local representative, take action closer to home, or learn more about the issue?
The door is open for further engagement at this time, so don’t leave them hanging.
You haven’t achieved your goal (yet). What’s next? ⇄
Don’t despair! Not achieving your goal (yet) does not mean the entire effort has failed. Evaluate what fell short in implementing the project and how it can be fixed now and in future endeavors.
CHECK THE TECH
The initial level of detective work should explore if there are glitches in the system that makes signing a petition difficult or annoying to complete.
Check to see if
√ The petition form is malfunctioning. Does it load in all website browsers? Do test signatures show up in the database? Are signatures submitted accurately reflected in the count numbers?
√ There are accidental error messages. Forms are finicky! It’s worth double-checking that required fields are clearly noted and accurately set in the backend system. Feature clear instructions throughout the form, so visitors are not surprised (and annoyed) by receiving error messages.
√ The form is asking for too much information. Signers can be turned off if asked to give more personal information than is necessary to complete a petition. Be a minimalist when deciding what data to collect and include explanations if additional fields are featured (e.g., phone numbers to text updates).
REVIEW & REVISE THE APPROACH
With the tech bugs out of the way, it’s time to evaluate the messaging and outreach plan and refresh the approach for moving forward. Take time to explore each of the following areas.
Frequency of messages. Determine if it’s helpful to increase the frequency of messages, so it breaks through the clutter and stays top of mind. But don’t rule out the need to decrease frequency if the initial effort may have led to audience fatigue.
Reviewing email and social engagement rates (opens, clicks, unsubscribes, shares, etc.) can help determine if more or less is needed.
Communication channels used. If the initial approach used only one communication channel, like social media, then explore how a wider mix of channels can be used in the future. Audiences often need to hear the message more than once, in more than one place.
Motivators featured. This is an excellent opportunity to feature different benefits and motivators than the initial approach. The audience may want to hear more about the desired outcome of the petition, how it benefits them, or proof that petitions make a difference.
Since some people have already signed the petition, motivators of social proof and early adopters/influencers can be added to the message mix.
RE-LAUNCH THE EFFORT
With revisions done, it’s time to re-launch the petition campaign (assuming there is still time to secure signatures before lawmakers make a decision).
This is a time to demonstrate honesty and transparency with your audience: “We didn’t quite hit the goal we set for the campaign, but there’s still time. Help us hit 40,000 signatures by March 15.”
Ask audience members who already signed to share the petition with others or share it on their social media feeds. Providing templates will make it easier for them to take this step.
Oops, we didn’t set a goal. What’s next? ⇄
Goal setting can feel like a pain in the ass, especially when you don’t have an existing benchmark to work against.
I am definitely guilty of being antsy to launch an effort I’ve worked hard on and wanting to eschew the process of setting goals and objectives. But we don’t know if we’re doing well when we haven’t set clear aims.
If you’re not sure how many petition signatures to shoot for, consider setting a goal for the project using the following methods.
▷ Research how many signatures other petitions received. Look at ones on related topics hosted by a similar organization to create a rough benchmark. Outcomes from previous petition efforts within your organization can also be a great starting point.
▷ Select a percentage of your subscriber or follower count that feels realistic to start with. Depending on your numbers, you can start with a goal of reaching 5% of your audience and then expand from there.
▷ Explore what number will impress the lawmakers you’re trying to persuade. You can aim for a percentage of their constituency that would be considered a representative sample size.
While this example focused on petition signing, the tips here can be applied to other efforts where you want many people to sign up for something, like your email list, webinar, event, and more.
Enjoy taking that next step!