How to Use Petitions to Grow Your Email List

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Needing more ideas on how to grow your email list? (Always, right??) Consider something different. Consider using a petition. It can be a great way to instantly target your client demographic. A petition can also help you gain awareness for a cause your company cares about. There are many ways you can use a petition to grow your email list and we’ll go over every single one of them here. Let’s dive in.

Of course, as expected, there is the right way to use a petition and there is the wrong way. The very, very wrong way. Let’s avoid that and make sure we cover everything it takes to use a petition to increase donors, subscribers and fans. This is a great way to reach people on a personal level and increase your influence in the circles of people who care about your cause.

As we know, these days, Google has tightened its reins on websites and blogs to include only the very best in content for organic searches. And, Google, we thank you for that! Does it make our job harder though? Yes! But, that’s when we get even better at what we do because authentic selling is part of socially conscious business culture. On to it!

Deciding on Your Cause

First, you need to decide on your particular cause. I always recommend using a cause that relates to your business or organization. And, if you can, try to incorporate a niche angle or relate it to current events.

Here at Faceted Media, we are currently petitioning grocery stores to create policies to combat food waste. We are a public relations, marketing and sales company that works with socially conscious businesses. By going this route, we are able to showcase our talents while promoting a cause that means something to us. It’s feel good marketing and we love it!

Other examples of ideas for deciding your cause:

  • Family law practice petitions for tougher oversight in child abuse cases
  • Dental practice petitions for increased access to dental care for all
  • Restaurant petitions for FDA labeling of GMO food
  • Coffee shop petitions for better working conditions for farmers
  • Counseling practice petitions for better mental health services
  • Retail store petitions for plus-size model features in magazines
  • Environmental nonprofit petitions to stop pipeline builds

You get the idea!

Writing Your Copy

Next you’ll need to write about your cause, why it’s important to you and your company, and why others should care too! Flashback to grammar school days and persuasive writing class…. Not too much has changed in that arena except that instead of using a formal structure, simply follow one with a timeline that makes sense and be real yo, oh and be sure your writing is supplemented by facts. Stats and research are helpful to explain your cause to others.

Here’s an example of an outline for writing your initial copy:

  1. Introduction
    1. What’s going on? What’s the issue at hand?
    2. Statistics on the severity of the issue.
  2. Personal Story
    1. Do you or an employee at your company have a story to tell about this cause? Here is your chance to tell it. And remember, don’t skip over key details or gloss over the hard parts. People are moved by truth. There are ways to eloquently tell your story. Ask trusted advisors to review your copy before posting.
  3. Company Story
    1. Why is this cause so important to your company? Talk about your company culture and how it’s important to make a difference.
  4. Call to Action
    1. The “Ask.” Ask them to please sign your petition in support of the cause. Make sure you have also included a custom graphic, any original photos, plus links to your social media pages and website.

Oh, and make sure you’ve got a good headline!!

Writing a Press Release

I get asked a lot….are press releases “dead”? No way! They just aren’t used in quite the same ways as they were in the past. And, they should be written a bit differently now too.

Writing a press release to support your petition can help you in many ways. One, it is a great way to have all of your cause and company information on one sheet. And two, it is a wonderful tool to use when reaching out to the media to promote your petition.

There is a wealth of information out there on the proper ways to send press releases. We recommend using an expert or agency, but if you decide to send out press releases on your own, do be mindful of the proper forms of e-mail etiquette when pitching your petition. Building good relationships with the media is always better than promoting just one of your marketing campaigns, assuming you will have several throughout the year.

Not sure who to send your petition to? Tread carefully to avoid ruining your reputation in the media community. I’ve been to journalist panel events before where they point blank told me that they have filters set to automatically drop emails from certain people right into the trash (because of past annoying pitches). Don’t be that person! Do your research, preferably hire an agency, or be very careful about who you put on your list. And, make sure to target journalists who have written about similar topics or cover the angles that you are suggesting.

Making Graphics for Social Media

Alrighty!! You’ve gotten the meat of your campaign prepared, now let’s put the icing on the cake. Once you’ve gotten all of your wording situated, now it’s time to get the visual components created. We love using this easy graphic design program. It’s free and has all of the different size graphics you may need easily laid out right before you.

We recommend making social media graphics with text that explains your petition briefly. Make sure all your graphics are in the same color family and correspond together. Also make sure to have your business or organization name on them. If you are using a hashtag, throw that on a few of them too. And, most importantly for Facebook, make sure to create a custom cover photo. Cover photo changes are given more weight than regular posts on Facebook. Plus, it acts as a “sticky” post that reminds visitors of your petition every time they visit your page. Boom!

Choosing a Petition Software Program (Free v. Paid)

Next, let’s talk about the different options out there. When it comes to petition software, there are TONS to choose from. Here is a short list of the petition programs available to your organization to use:

Some Petition Program Options:

They are all pretty great platforms, however, in our opinion, only one is worth using: Go Petition. We spent hours researching which petition software was the best. We created petitions and accounts at the various websites and after much frustration, we found that most do not let you have access to the email addresses of the signers. So, you may get the word out about a great cause, but you will have nothing to show for it and no one to send follow-ups to!

The only petition program we found that allows you to download the email addresses associated with your petition is Go Petition. You have to purchase them, yes, but it is extremely reasonable. You can purchase emails from one month of your campaign for about $30, or extend your campaign for two months for about $50. You can also opt to purchase emails that trickle in for the whole year for $199. Either way, it is an affordable solution to get loads of emails (if your campaign is done right!!) for your email or donor list. So, make sure to use Go Petition and set up your premium account. The last thing you want is to set everything up, post your petition to the public, only to have to re-do it on a site that allows you to purchase the emails!! (That would be a #fail.)

Creating a Marketing Plan (Advertising + PR)

Okay, by this time, you might even be sick of your own petition, you’ve done so much work on it, but keep going….you are so close!!! And, with the proper set-up, you’ll be ahead of the game. Many business owners and marketing managers get a lot of great ideas, but without the proper footing and care taken to the campaign, it’s just not going to bear fruit.

So, good job so far!

Now, once you have a lot of the basics set up, it’s important to make a plan to promote your petition. First, think about how long you want the campaign to span for. We suggest 2-3 months. Next, get out a calendar and start creating your social media editorial calendar. Will you post articles relating to your petition 3-4x/week and write a blog about it once a week? Will you include your petition in your monthly newsletter? Will you write to friends and colleagues once a week and ask them to share your petition on their airwaves? Will you reach out to radio producers and try to see if you can record a PSA? Will you organize a local event to bring awareness to your cause? Will you write an open letter about your petition to someone who can bring about change? Will you incorporate a pop-up on your website to direct people to the petition?

The sky’s the limit and your marketing team can help you craft the very best plan. My very best piece of advice? Be consistent! Don’t give up just because you are a little tired of talking about your campaign. Stay the course and get creative about the angles of your petition. There are all sorts of ways to get the word out on your petition. It all depends what the petition is about, what your company is about and what resources are available to you. Think outside the box!

Ensuring Google Analytics

Yeah buddy. We cannot emphasize this one enough. So many business owners do not have their Google Analytics set up properly on their site, nor do they check them regularly. This could potentially be one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a business owner. If you don’t know how your efforts are working across the interwebs, you could potentially be wasting your precious time on tactics that just aren’t working toward your goals.

If you are wondering the basics of how to do this, simply log-in to (or create!) your Google Analytics account. Click on the “admin” tab and look for your tracking code. Next, insert your code into the “text” section if you use WordPress, or if you use another platform, look and see where to place the code according to their rules. Now you will be getting information about how people are finding your site. If you start getting traffic from your petition website, then you can start to see if it is working or not. Without the code inserted into your site, you would be unable to see how visitors are landing there. Now, be sure to set a time to monitor it regularly. Good job!

Launch + Campaign Duration

Ahhh! The time we’ve all been waiting for! The launch! Finally! So, now, you can proudly display all of your hard work to the public and watch your petition at work. Stand brave, press the button. You’ve done everything you need to, now just follow your plan.

It’s also great to send updates throughout the campaign to maintain it’s freshness (i.e. Organization Y just reached 100 signatures on their petition to __________.) As appropriate, these milestones can be turned into social media graphics, sent in a company newsletter, emailed to the media, etc.

The Finish Line

Once your campaign has finished, make sure to do a lengthy write up in your blog. Include original photos and video wherever possible and if you can create a graphic to visually show your audience the success of your campaign, that is awesome!!

Also, make sure all of your new email addresses are in your email list and get a personal thank you out to them. Send any media contacts that helped you a hand-written thank you card if possible, or just a really nice email. Ask them if you can help them in any way and maintain your successful media contacts by being helpful and efficient..

Ta-da! You did it! Now….what to petition for next year?

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