What is a Ladder of Engagement?

When looking for ways to increase engagement with your support base, one of the most effective tactics is to use a ladder of engagement. It’s a tried-and-true method for getting supporters to slowly increase their level of engagement without overwhelming them with requests.

When looking for ways to increase engagement with your support base, one of the most effective tactics is to use a ladder of engagement. It’s a tried-and-true method for getting supporters to slowly increase their level of engagement without overwhelming them with requests.

Your Unique Ladder of Engagement

A ladder of engagement is a framework that leads supporters from low-effort support to more engaged support. Each ‘rung’ of the ladder is a different level of engagement, and your goal is to guide as many people up the ladder as possible.

The Obama campaign used a ladder of engagement for fundraising in 2012. They started by asking people to like Obama’s Facebook page, then asked them to sign a birthday card for Obama. Signing the card included giving the campaign their name and email address, which allowed the campaign to contact them directly.

Supporters then received a request to fill out a survey or share a story relevant to the campaign. Finally, they were asked to make a small donation in exchange for swag.

How to Create a Ladder of Engagement

The biggest thing to remember about a ladder of engagement is that it should start small and escalate to something larger. Obama’s campaign began with a simple request for a Facebook like and built up to asking for donations.

Creating your ladder is relatively simple. First, you need to figure out what your overall goal is. Decide what you want to ultimately ask your supporters to do when they reach the top rung of your ladder. 

From there, you can figure out what the lower rungs will ask of supporters. Remember that the requests must be proportional to the level of engagement. Don’t ask someone on the first rung for a donation, as they are just getting started and aren’t at that level of commitment yet.

Also, try to find ways to increase the amount of key data you collect, like email addresses and phone numbers, as people move up the ladder. Find ways to stay in touch with supporters throughout their journey up the ladder.

Here’s a great four-step guide to creating your ladder:

  1. Start small. Focus on awareness like social media interactions and attending events.
  2. Learn about your supporters and have them learn about your organization. Offer digital content and email newsletters updating them about the campaign. Remember to maintain correspondence with supporters from here up.
  3. Encourage participation. Ask for volunteers and small donations. Like the Obama campaign above, offering swag or merchandise in return for donations softens the blow.
  4. Ask supporters to spread the word. Encourage them to share information about the campaign with their personal network and see if they are interested in taking on a leadership role as another mouthpiece for the campaign.

As you create each rung, make sure you’re setting appropriate goals for that level. Establish strategies specific to that rung to achieve those goals. 

In general, you want someone on rung 2 to complete the action requested of them and move to rung 3. However, it’s best to have specific goals in mind to ensure your campaign is getting the support and engagement it needs.

The Benefits and Challenges of a Ladder

Ladders of engagement are an excellent way to grow a campaign’s relationship with its supporters. Like the foot-in-the-door strategy, a ladder makes it easier for people to justify donating to a campaign. They’ve already invested some of their time and energy, so it makes sense to invest a little more.

The most significant challenge organizations and campaigns face with ladders is keeping track of everyone. Large campaigns can have millions of people on the ladder, making it difficult to connect with everyone personally.

However, with strategic organization and coordination, campaigns can manage these huge numbers easily. Some groups will assign numbers to the rungs of the ladder and track how many people are on what rung that way. The first rung is 1, the second is 2, and so on. Each number group can be handled separately to ensure that the right requests are being made to the right people. 

No matter how you choose to manage your ladder, as long as you’re prepared and have a great team by your side, it’s an excellent way to increase engagement among supporters. 

Final Thoughts

A ladder of engagement is a great way to build your supporters’ engagement level without overwhelming them. Instead of coming in hot with requests for donations or volunteers, you can start with small, easy actions. Then, you can build up to your primary goal.

You’re more likely to keep people engaged with the ladder than with random requests for support. If you want to increase engagement with your supporters, try using a ladder of engagement. 

 

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