You finally had it all figured out. Your audience was responding to your messaging. Supporter engagement was consistent and you’d been collecting a consistent number of grassroots contributions every month. Then… something changed.
All of a sudden, your messaging isn’t resonating, and your emails, mobile messages, and ads seem to be falling flat. Your strategy hasn’t changed — it’s just no longer getting the results you’d come to depend on. You’re starting to worry about hitting your goals or being able to fund the programs and initiatives you’ve committed to.
It can be incredibly disheartening to see drops in engagement. Before you panic, take these steps.
1) Check your tech.
If your stats truly plummeted, it’s worth first looking into whether your systems and infrastructure are functioning as they should be. If your donations are down, you should probably check all your donation links. If your emails consistently aren’t getting the response they were a month earlier, you might have an email deliverability problem on your hands. Tech problems range from easily fixed typos to massive system-wide catastrophes. In any case, if your technology is broken, you’re not going to get the results you need.
2) Take a beat.
Sometimes, massive shifts in your audience’s interest have nothing to do with your mission or message — it could be that more pressing news is on people’s minds. If you were trying to fundraise in March 2020, for example, your audience was likely to tune out your pleas unless you were one of the few organizations able to raise money in integrity in the earliest days of the pandemic hitting the United States.
If this is one of those times when an outside factor is in place, turn off your prescheduled content and consider how you can do the most good with the tools and infrastructure you have in place. Does it make sense to use your systems to raise money for another organization? Do you have the ability to connect people who need to be connected right now? What can you do that will support your community the most right now?
3) Get back to basics.
What was the most successful email or message you sent in the last year? When your engagement is down and you’re no longer sure what kind of content to send, start by revisiting your old standbys. Remember, your email audience doesn’t read every email you send — each subscriber reads the emails that catch their eye or that show up in their inbox at the right time. That means it’s safe to recycle content every so often.
By updating and resending content that worked extremely well in the past, you can gain insight into whether your subscribers are still interested in the same general campaigns and concepts, or if there are more substantive shifts happening within your program.
4) Check in with your audience.
It might be time to learn more about your audience. If you haven’t done so in a while, try sending an interest survey or running a (formal or informal) focus group so you can gain more insight into what your community is thinking about, and how they want to receive information. If your organization or others in your field conduct regular polling, take a look to see if the way you talk about certain topics needs to evolve. If you want to lead, you also need to listen.
5) Get a fresh set of eyes on your program.
Every day we talk to leaders and communicators who are stuck in a rut. When you’re incredibly busy, sometimes you don’t have time to do a deep dive into your digital program. Our team excels at figuring out what works, so the organizations we support can stop wasting time on strategies and tactics that aren’t particularly helpful. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and you’re not getting the results you want, set up a free strategy session with our team at this link. We’ll help you get back on track.