Getting Your Audience to Take Action

My favorite definition of marketing is “cultivating the conditions that lead to a sale.” And that includes donations, enrollment, membership, renewal, or whatever kind of transactions your organization needs to thrive. Over the last few months, we’ve taken a closer look at the Know-Feel-Do path that paves the way for these transactions to take place, as well as some useful tools for fostering understanding and creating emotional connections.

Now that your audience KNOWS who you are and what you do and FEELS moved by your work, it’s time to ask them to DO what you need them to do!

First, remember to lean into your most important DOs.

When we talk about the actions we might ask our audience to take—and the accompanying results we might measure—there are two main categories:

The Journey

The actions in this category are stops along the route that are good to see happen—opening an email, liking a post, commenting on a photo. They’re signals that your audience is aware and has an interest and may be moving toward the ultimate outcome.

The Outcome

Actions in this category are the things your organization needs people to do so it can thrive—making a donation, attending an event, enrolling in school, becoming a member, volunteering. No amount of “likes” will keep your doors open without these outcomes.

Because asking for money is uncomfortable for many people, it can be easy to lose sight of your ultimate outcomes and focus too heavily on your journey asks. Don’t shy away from a direct ask when you need someone to donate, volunteer, or sign up.

If your journey metrics aren’t yielding commensurate outcome metrics, you’ll need to identify what’s out of line. The journey is important, but it isn’t the same as reaching the final destination.

Too much of a good thing isn’t good!

When it’s time to ask your audience to take action, be clear, be direct, and be specific about what you want them to do. It’s important not to distract them from the action at hand. Now’s not the time for a prolonged story or lots of detailed information.

It’s also very important that you don’t give your audience too many choices. If you’re asking for donations, your only link out should be to donate. If you’re asking people to sign a particular petition, don’t throw in an option to volunteer instead.

Limiting choices applies to things like giving amounts and sponsorship levels, too. Curating three specific options for howto complete an action can give your audience agency

“Would you make a gift of $25, $50, or $100?”

Presenting a buffet of alternatives is more likely to result in decision paralysis and inaction.

“Would you like to donate now, donate monthly, put us in your will, become a member, volunteer, follow us on social media…”

Know your audience.

When it comes down to it, everything is really about knowing your audience. If you’re encouraging folks to sign up for a run and you know you have a lot of families with little kids, you’d do well to include a 1-mile walk alongside your 10K when giving people (limited) options for participating in your race day. Likewise, donation ask amounts will ideally reflect your donors’ past giving history.

You want your audience to know and love your organization. But it’s just as important that you know and love them too!

That’s a wrap on Know-Feel-Do for now. If you missed the first two installments—or just need a refresher—you can find them here: The Amazing Analogy (Know) and Emotions and the Magical Metaphor (Feel).