Digital Advocacy Campaign Goal Setting

Woman writing on a white board with sticky notes planning out strategy

Can Your Digital Advocacy Campaign Have It All?

We often find that a digital advocacy campaign is expected to meet multiple organizational goals at once. Unfortunately, you can’t really have it all. So how do you choose an objective and what digital strategy is likely to achieve it?

Setting an Achievable Goal

An achievable digital advocacy campaign goal is something you can assess with the metrics available. For example, your organization’s end goal might be to get a ballot measure passed or to put pressure on a legislator, but those objectives can be hard to calculate. Measurable digital goals include impression counts, conversions, video completions, and click through rates. You’ll want to work with your digital vendor or consultant to identify which digital performance metric (or Key Performance Indicator—KPI) most closely aligns with your end goal. For example, if you want to influence lawmakers you could run a petition and set your objective as the number of signers you think that legislator would find significant enough to influence his/her opinion.

What Strategy Makes Sense for My Goal?

We understand that clients don’t always know what digital strategy options are available to them. We work with them to identify their goal and then provide them with options within their budget to make that happen. That said, some of the goals that frequently come up for our advocacy clients are persuasion, pressure, and education. Below are some ways you can build a digital advocacy campaign to meet those objectives.


For clients looking to persuade people to perform an action, video campaigns are strongly recommended. Videos provide the space that isn’t available in banner ads to make a pitch to viewers about your cause and can also incorporate an emotional element that is often hard to achieve in static ads. Digital videos should have your message frontloaded to the first 6-seconds to offset the short attention spans inherent in the digital space and the option to skip or scroll away from most video advertising. Once you have delivered your primary message, which should include the action you want people to take, you can expand into why they should take that action or provide background on the issue. It’s also a good idea to make multiple lengths of the same video concept—30-seconds and 15-seconds are standard, 6-second ads are also often recommended—as different lengths tend to be useful in different ways. 6- and 15-second ads usually have higher video completion rates than longer ads and are a good way to make sure your message gets across while 30-second ads tend to have more engagement than shorter ads.


As I mentioned earlier, petition campaigns can be a good way to put pressure on legislators. You can also expand this into public comments or contact made with legislators via phone calls or emails. There are many low-cost widgets available that allow people to send form emails to legislators and allow you to measure the number of emails sent. However, personal contact from constituent to legislator is often worth the programming costs of building something custom, especially if you can set it up to look more personal to each sender. Legislative offices are accustomed to getting form emails that all have the same subject line or otherwise seem to come from the same place and they tend to take them less seriously than emails that appear to have come from multiple sources, so programming something that looks and feels more personal can be worthwhile.

It’s also often a good idea to make sure your digital advocacy campaign is visible to people outside of your supporter base. For example, you might want to try to target community leaders and other people who can influence legislators with your ads or highlight your petition results with those people. Twitter can be a great platform for putting lawmakers on notice as many of them have accounts and a lot of people use Twitter to engage with local news and politics. If you can get away with including a legislator’s Twitter handle directly in ads you can be sure that they’ll know you’re putting them on notice. Placing ads on local news sites that you know that legislator and their constituents are likely to frequent can also make your message feel more public to lawmakers.


A lot of c3 digital advocacy campaigns can’t ask for direct action from people or name legislators directly, so educating the general public about an issue might be the only goal you can legally accomplish. In that case, serving ads across a wide variety of networks at a high volume is often the best strategy. Programmatic ad serving lets you put ads in front of your audience pretty much wherever they surf the web, rather than putting you in the position of having to guess what sites you think they might visit. This tactic helps get the most scale for your ads, so you can reach as many members of your target audience as possible and serve them multiple ad impressions.

We also tend to encourage more layered campaigns for this goal. In addition to programmatic networks, we typically advise running ads on social media and other platforms like digital radio to make sure you’re blanketing your audience as your budget will allow. Your message is important, don’t let anyone get away!

If you’d like a deeper dive into jump-starting your digital campaign, read our blog to help get you going. If digital advertising is a subject you’re interested in, we plan to have digital blogs running on the last week of the month for the next year (at least) so make sure to check back in!