To edit, or not to edit, that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler for a campaign to risk
The rants and typos of outrageous messaging,
Or to pre-write emails against a sea of spiraling narratives
And by careful scripting end them...
Too much? Or is this exactly what Shakespeare was talking about, even way back in 1599? On the campaign trail for the kingdom of Denmark, Hamlet is pondering the importance of controlling your campaign’s narrative or conversely, letting other players weave their own stories and agendas into the mix.
400-odd years later, these are still important questions when you’re working on launching a digital campaign tool. How you set up the message that will be sent to targets by your supporters has a big impact on the success of a campaign. Most of our tools allow campaigners to:
- Leave the message field blank and invite supporters to write their own Tweets, emails, faxes, or letters.
- Include some content in the message field that supporters can choose to edit or expand on.
- Provide supporters with a pre-scripted message that cannot be edited.
A Blank Field
- Offer supporters a sense of agency. In our networked society, digital citizens want the opportunity to share their own stories and opinions.
- Encourage long-term commitment. A supporter who writes their own message to representatives is more likely to follow—and follow up on—your campaign.
- Keep messages unique. Emails or Tweets sent to targeted decision-makers can have a greater impact if they are obviously personal.
- Supporters could say anything! Leaving the message field blank requires relinquishing some control over your campaign narrative.
- It’s a high ask. More time and effort are required by your supporter, which could impact conversion rates.
(Solution: Use Key Points to prompt your supporters through the writing process. Add a message assuring writers that their message can be as short as they want it to be.)
Use cases: story-driven campaigns; raising awareness; activating a strong supporter base; long-term campaigning; second-wave campaigning; policy change campaigning.
An Editable Message
- It’s a low ask. Very easy to use.
- It gives supporters options. Folks using your campaign tool can choose to just click that big, friendly SEND button, or to add their own voice.
- It’s super flexible. With an editable script, you can add an entire pre-written message, or just include a few relevant hashtags and let supporters do the rest.
- It might be confusing. Some supporters might not be sure if they’re meant to edit or customize the message field.
(Solution: include a note in Key Points or above the message field explaining how you’d like your supporters to interact with the message script.)
- It could create formatting issues. If your message includes tokens, links, or other customized content, supporters might accidentally delete that content as they edit their message.
(Solution: keep an eye on the messages being sent in Submissions in order to identify potential issues. Rework your editable message to respond to obvious points of supporter confusion.)
Use Cases: list-building; activating existing supporters; time-sensitive campaigns; political campaigns; campaigns focused on policy change; campaigns building on previous success; regionally localized campaigning.
An Un-editable Message
- It’s a super low ask. All supporters need to do is click one button.
- It’s always on message. With un-editable messages, you control your narrative.
- It’s high conversion. Although messages from supporters won’t be unique, they’ll come at targeted decision-makers like an unstoppable wave of change.
- Limited supporter agency. Some supporters might be turned off by the inability to send their own unique message.
(Solution: On your landing page, include a link to an opportunity for more engaged involvement, like an opportunity to share your campaign on social media or an LTE Tool.)
- Decreased opportunity for cultivating leadership. Asking for nothing more than the click of a button makes it easy for folks to stay hovering low on your digital engagement ladder.
(Solution: include an additional ask on your Thank You Page and/or Thank You Email. A different ask on each can also give supporters options for upping their engagement.)
- Generic messages. The messages sent by the campaign risk looking spammy and depersonalized.
(Solution: Create several Email Subjects and Messages so that supporters are sending a variety of different letters.)
Use Cases: slogan-centric campaigning; “Just say NO” campaigns; time-sensitive campaigns; campaigns with an array of different targets; campaigns basing success on volume of submissions; political campaigns; national and international campaigns.