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Build engagement by surveying your supporters

Over at ClickZ, Jeanne Jennings argues that you can learn a lot from your subscriber list by simply running a survey.

First, and most importantly, you're going to learn some things about your subscribers and supporters:

# If you have specific questions, you can get specific answers. I recently surveyed an association's e-mail list to identify the most convenient offline locations and other details (parking, metro access, price) for its monthly luncheons. We'll use this information to select a venue we hope will increase attendance.

# If you just want to learn more about your list, you can. I recently surveyed a client's house e-mail list to learn more about who was on it: what size company they worked for, where they were located, and which industry issues concerned them most. We'll use this information to better target e-mail marketing efforts to this group.

Applying it to politics, AtariDemocrat argues that you're also going to build engagement with your supporters:

To her list we’d add another good reason specific to politics: engagement with the campaign. People who sign up for campaign news letters are highly involved in politics, and have a lot of opinions they want to share. By listening to them, even if only through a web survey, you increase their sense of ownership over the campaign. Activists who feel like part of the campaign are much more likely to donate, volunteer and spread the word to their friends.

Here at Mandate Media, we've helped a number of clients do exactly that. For example, the Oregon House Democrats asked all of their supporters a handful of open-ended questions:

We're listening: All of us together are smarter and wiser than any one of us. This campaign can only succeed with your ideas, your energy, and your commitment to tell us what's happening in your community. We're listening. Give us some advice...

1. We want to talk about issues that matter. What is the most critical issue for House Democratic candidates to address in the 2006 elections?

2. We want to help our volunteers be effective activists and have fun doing it. What makes an ideal volunteer experience?

3. To win, we'll need all hands on deck. Who are the community leaders and activists in your community that should either a) run for the legislature, or b) provide leadership in a campaign to take back the Oregon House?

4. How can we help you get your friends, neighbors and colleagues involved in taking back the Oregon House? What tools and materials can we provide you?

Of course, once you've asked the questions, it's critical to show 'em that you're listening. The best way to do that? Echo back some of the comments. The Oregon House Dems did just that:

Here are just a few examples of the excellent feedback and insight we've received from some of the people who have taken the Oregon House Democrats challenge:

A Leader from Bend: "We need Candidate Assessment Checklists and materials similar to Emily's List "Thinking of Running for Office." Most county officers that I know are reinventing the wheel and scrambling to find out what to do. Written guidelines, checklists, user-friendly guides would be great! Thanks for asking!"

So, to build engagement, ask your supporters for their feedback - and then prove you're listening.