People have been mobilising to achieve change together for centuries, but digital technologies mean that we can reach more people, quicker.
Digital mobilisation might be a new concept for you but it’s all about driving supporters to take valuable actions at scale. The principles aren’t complicated but the jargon can get confusing.
Where the end goal of marketing is to sell a product or service, the end goal of mobilisation is empowering supporters to do something that furthers the cause that unites you.
The more people understand digital mobilisation, the more real-world impact we can have. So here’s a glossary of our key terms – we’re sharing part 1 on concepts and tools now, and we’ll share part 2 on metrics and testing later.
This list isn’t exhaustive but it’s a strong starting point – let us know if anything’s missing.
These are the key ideas or values that shape how we mobilise supporters.
Call to action (CTA):
A direct appeal to your supporters to do something – the more specific and immediate the action, the better.
Example: Can you donate to help sound the alarm, investigate the fires, and force the meat industry to stop torching this unique landscape? Just click to give a few pounds.
Crisis and Opportunity:
This is connected to your mission story. It’s painting a picture of what’s at stake, and how our collective action can intervene and protect whatever it is that’s under threat.
Example: Thousands of people are dying in agony every year in Scotland – but it doesn’t need to be this way. Public opinion is shifting fast, and if we work together we can change the law on assisted dying.
Horizontal vs. vertical language:
The way you speak to your supporters is really important. We classify the language we use as either horizontal or vertical. In a horizontal scenario, the staff of an organisation may see themselves more as facilitators or enablers – supporting your audience to do the work. It’s “supporter first” rather than “organisation first” which can disempower or distance people from the cause.
Vertical: We, the organisation, are going to change the world – take this action to help us do it.
Horizontal: We can only solve this problem working together – and here’s how you can have impact.
For digital mobilisation, horizontal language is crucial – it’s important that your communication creates a sense of shared vision and collective power. Your language should centre your supporters as key agents of change.
Minimum Viable Product (MVP) – not to be confused with most valuable player:
The lowest quality, cheapest experience you can give to supporters in order to test your assumptions about what will or won’t work. This is so you can learn quickly and at a low cost, before rolling out the final and polished version (which often requires a larger financial investment).
This is when you translate your cause into a compelling narrative. Break it down into the problem, the solution, how you’ll get there, and who (or what) stands in your way. This helps people to understand your cause in a nutshell, and how you can work together to create change.
Example: Forward Action’s mission story would be:
Problem: A lack of digital mobilisation in the UK’s charity sector, therefore missed opportunities for real-world impact.
Solution: Create the strategies and engineer the tools that get people to take action for progressive causes.
How we’ll get there: Use data-driven insights to pioneer new ways of digital fundraising and campaigning.
Who (or what) stands in our way: Limited awareness of the amazing potential of digital mobilisation.
Post-action asks/pages (see also, Daisy chain):
Post-action pages are what your supporter sees after they’ve taken your primary action online. We find that this is the best time to ask them to take another. They’re already primed and aligned with your cause, and action drives action.
Example: After a supporter’s signed a petition, “Thank you and welcome to the team! Could you share this with a few friends to triple your impact? The more people on board, the greater impact we can have.”
Theory of change:
A clear pitch to the supporter, which explains what you want them to do, why you’re asking them to do it now, and how it will help you achieve a shared goal, together.
Example: By adding your name, you’ll be increasing the pressure on the government to act – getting us closer to a change in the law on domestic abuse.
Tools & Tactics
These are some of the key tools we use to deliver great digital mobilisation.
Daisy chaining is a way to build momentum at the moment your supporter responds to an ask. It encourages them to take multiple actions at the same time (see post-action).
Example: your supporter has just signed up to your mailing list, instead of redirecting them to a standard thank you page, a daisy chain would lead them to another action, e.g. donate, tell a friend, set up a Facebook fundraiser, buy some merch, take a survey etc.
A sign-up page that compels people to add their name in support of a values statement, action, or cause. It’s a way for people to digitally raise their hand and say ‘yes, I’m with you’.
Example: Here’s one launched with our partner Refuge.
Maintenance/support for web pages:
This is the work it takes to make sure a website remains functional long-term, keeping an eye on any issues that might arise and fixing them.
Scrolling journey & slides:
The scrolling journey, made up of different slides, is how we technically facilitate the daisy chain effect at Forward Action.
Instead of redirecting supporters to a whole new page when we present a new ask (long loading times can often cause drop-off), the supporters click through to the next slide with the new ask – but it’s all on the same page.
You might know this as email marketing automation, onboarding or new supporter stewardship. It’s a series of emails you send to new, opted-in supporters, ‘welcoming’ them to being a part of your cause or campaign.
We find it’s best practice to have one specific call-to-action per email, as well as giving your supporters a variety of asks across the journey. It also gives the chance to build a two-way conversation with your supporters, using the welcome journey to listen as much as you share.
You’ve made it through part 1 of our digital mobilisation glossary! Keep an eye out for part 2, where we’ll share key terms for measuring success and conducting tests.
If you’ve got any suggestions to include in our digital mobilisation glossary, or any questions on any of the terms mentioned, we’d love to hear from you. Feel free to get in touch here.