The 9 Components of a Successful Community Engagement Campaign

by Kathy Himmelberg | June 17, 2019

How does a law office in a saturated market become the go-to firm to call when someone needs the help of a personal injury attorney? The answer is by establishing your firm as not only an expert in personal injury law, but also a business that genuinely cares about the members of its local community.

Every aspect of your marketing and advertising strategy has a role to play in developing your customer base. However, establishing a strong, authentic relationship between your firm and your prospects can require a more robust platform than the typical 30-second commercial. One way that cj Advertising has successfully created positive brand recognition within a local market is with marketing automation.

Marketing automation is a method of nurturing leads with custom, automated messages determined by the actions your prospects take. Marketing automation encompasses a variety of channels–including email marketing, social media marketing, and landing pages and forms. Promotions that engage your community can induct new leads into your database and a long-term marketing automation campaign. The power in a marketing automation email campaign is the content and cadence of the messages combined with continual growth of your database. The larger the database, the higher the percentage of leads coming to your firm.

cj Advertising recently collaborated with three of our clients on marketing automation promotions designed to engage the local community. A successful campaign requires these nine key components, which we’ve separated into two categories: ingredients and methods.

Components 1-3: Your Ingredients

  1. The Game Plan

Know your audience. What motivates them? Define your mission. Does this promotion celebrate a firm event or a holiday? What are the time parameters? Is it a short, four-week promotion or will it run longer to generate more exposure? The more monetary investment, the longer the promotion should run to meet goals. At cj Advertising, our goal is to acquire new database leads at a cost of $5.00 or less per email. The cost is calculated by dividing the number of new emails generated by the total price of the promotion, including prizes and paid media.

  1. An Appealing Topic

Community-focused issues exist in all local markets. What are the issues in your market that you want to support, promote, or address? In May 2019, cj Advertising conducted Outstanding Teacher Contests in honor of National Teacher Appreciation Month. Teacher salaries and the lack of funding for school systems are hot topics in most communities. We developed a promotion with a nomination phase for worthy teachers followed by a voting period. The teacher with the most votes won a prize. Because the topic resonated with the community, it took on a viral life of its own online and built community partnership branding for the firms.

  1. Prizing

If you are serious about the topic and wanting to make a difference, you must put money and/or time toward the prize. You are asking someone to stop whatever they are doing to participate, so make it worth their while. We found the better the prize, the better the results. For our recent Outstanding Teacher Contests, the firm that had the biggest prize had the lowest cost per new email generated by the promotion. Results were significantly under our goal of $5.00; average cost per email for these three firms was $0.85 per email! If possible, structure prizing in a way to encourage users to continue to promote the campaign and your brand after participating.

Components 4-9: Your Methods

  1. Make It Easy to Understand

No one likes to read a long block of text, and if the directions are too complicated, users will bounce out. Limit requirements for participation to one or two actions and provide clear calls-to-action and helpful graphics. With a voting campaign like the Outstanding Teacher Contests, make the end dates of the nomination and voting phases prominent.

  1. Make It Easy to Participate

Although we’d like as much information about prospects as possible, the goal of this campaign is to foster goodwill and generate email addresses. Too many steps may cause a participant to drop out halfway through. Asking for more information than they are comfortable giving may even generate backlash. Stick with asking for just the basic information you need.

  1. Get Participants Involved

A great way to increase the exposure of a promotion is through social media. Provide an easy way for participants to share your campaign on their social media profiles. For a voting campaign, you can include links in an auto-responder sent to all users immediately after they have completed a nomination, been nominated, or voted in the promotion. It’s especially important to email the nominees with the prize information and social sharing links. This boosts the chances they will drive more exposure and create excitement for the promotion on your behalf.

  1. Send Reminders

People are busy. Even if they are interested in the cause you’re supporting, the first time they see your campaign may not be a good time to follow a link, and they may forget to return. Develop a short, fun reminder email close to the end of your promotion encouraging nominees to share again on social media. You could even email the top 15 nominees and let them know they are in the running with 14 others to spark competitive urgency.

  1. Enlist Help from Others

Figure out what other people or groups will help spread the word. For the Outstanding Teacher Contests, we sent contest information to the principal of each school where a nominated teacher worked. In two campaigns, the firm also offered a monetary prize to the school of the winning teacher, giving the principals incentive besides supporting their teacher to further promote the campaign on their own.

Press releases to local media can also help get exposure. If the topic is something being reported on, find those stories and send the press release to that reporter. Reporters are always looking for another angle, and the media loves positive stories happening within the local community.

  1. Utilize Video

With a voting campaign, the nomination phase needs a paid media schedule to inform the public and get the promotion launched. Basic principles apply when scheduling your campaign, like selecting the correct audience and geo. However, we’ve also found that including a video in the ad boosts the relevancy score on Facebook. In fact, using the word “video” in an email subject line boosts open rates by 19% and clickthrough rates by 65%, according to a study conducted by the Content Marketing Institute in March 2019.

With good, relevant content, appropriate delivery, and continual email growth, we have been able to track leads and signed cases that have come from marketing automation nurturing campaigns. Developing a campaign of your own is a long-term investment in your brand and community. The investment not only delivers to your bottom line, but also creates a real connection to the community! If you are interested in building a campaign similar to the recent Outstanding Teacher Contests created for cj Advertising clients, we’d love to help!

Contact Kathy Himmelberg for more information.