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Advocacy Performance Indicators: Where Do You Rank?

by Ann Dermody, FiscalNote

See where your industry falls in the most comprehensive advocacy report out there!

What sort of advocacy performance indicators should you be following? How do you measure your campaign's successes? Do you know where you rank among peer organizations?

Those are the sorts of questions we get asked all the time by our clients wondering how to benchmark their advocacy performance.

As the largest global provider of advocacy software, we’ve had countless conversations, heard hundreds of anecdotes, and observed best practices up close regarding all of those things. Years of watching high-performing advocacy outfits, many of whom are the gold standard in their space, has taught us and fellow clients a thing or two; but stories and anecdotes mean little without concrete metrics to back them up.

That’s why we put together the most comprehensive and data-driven analysis on campaigns ever produced for organizations involved in advocacy.

It's Always A Numbers Game

Derived from an analysis of the campaigns of over 2,400 organizations, who sent 76,000 campaigns and 1.1. billion emails (yes, billion) to their advocates, we asked the data multiple questions, including: 

Advocacy Benchmark Report 2019

Ready to see where your industry falls in the rankings?

  • What constitutes good open and action rates for an industry sector?
  • When’s the best time of day to send a campaign or informational email? 
  • How well do state, federal or local campaigns perform? 
  • What day of the week, or month of the year, are you likely to garner the most attention or action rates for your email campaigns?

For email metrics, we divided advocacy campaigns into two categories - informational and call to action. Informational campaigns have no specific ask, but provide content including newsletters or educational emails. 

Call to action campaigns drive advocates to an advocacy effort by asking and encouraging the recipients to do something, such as email a lawmaker, sign a petition, tweet at an official. 

We looked at performance by 17 different industry sectors, and then broke those down into smaller sub industries. So, for example, health is a sector, and its industries included everything from nursing homes to professional medical organizations to medical device industries to pharmaceuticals.

The organizations studied range from small and large nonprofits, to corporations and trade associations. 

Advocacy Organizations Are Doing A Great Job

So what did we find?

First of all, it's good news overall for advocacy organizations. 

The overall open rate for emails sent through FiscalNote and CQ's advocacy platforms is a whopping 25.5 percent.

For comparison, the average email open rate for marketing, or content-related emails from most other, non-advocacy organizations, such as business to business, business to consumer, is 20.81 percent*, and that’s considered really good.

Read on for more baseline metrics.

Informational Versus Call-to-Action Emails

Obviously, we wanted to dig a little deeper and see how those rates ranged when you asked your advocates to do something, rather than just informing them of something.

The open rates didn’t change much, but the news is even better here. Informational emails, the ones that included content-based newsletters, updates, or educational material, had a 25.8 percent open rate.

Call-to-action emails, the ones where you’re asking folks to actually do something, had only a fractionally lower open rate of 24.8 percent.

This indicates your list of advocates, supporters, members, and donors are very engaged with the issues your organization is concerned about. 

Federal and State Campaigns

For action rates focused on advocacy issues at the federal level, there was similar good news. The open rates held steady at 23.7 percent, and the action rates were 8 percent.

Things were even better at state-level campaigns. People opened your emails at a 26.8 percent rate and took action for you at a rate of 9.3 percent.

Open rates for campaigns that combined federal and state initiatives fared best of all with their open rates at a high 31.4 percent and a solid 7 percent action rate.

The "other" campaigns mostly centered on local campaigns and while they had a great open rate at 30.7 percent, their action rate was significantly low at 2.5 percent indicating lists that may not have been accurately targeted for local campaigns.

Overall Broadcasts

The metrics provided above are from a staggering 75,864 campaigns undertaken between 2016-2018.

Of those, 50,785 were informational email campaigns, and 25,079 were campaigns in which you requested your people to act.

That included over 365 million emails in 2018 alone. Of those, over 160 million had calls to action and almost 206 million were informational.

There's just one thing left to say. Well done, and download the report now!

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