Audience engagement is arguably one of the most important aspects of running a social good organisation. Good audience engagement can lead to enhanced program design and participation, as well as strengthen volunteer and donor management. It can also increase organisational credibility which paves the way for more sustainable partnerships, allowing the organisation to expand.
However, optimising audience engagement is not always easy. We live in a world oversaturated with communication platforms and endless amounts of content! While this allows us to tap into new markets and connect with more people, it can be overwhelming and complicated if not approached strategically.
Before conducting any outreach, it is important for your social good organisation to assess your current situation and develop internal goals with regard to audience engagement. While you may have general goals in mind, such as having your marketing efforts reach 1000 people monthly), it is also incredibly important to have specific goals that relate to how your beneficiaries may perceive the effectiveness of your outreach efforts.
There are many ways to assess how beneficiaries respond to an organisation’s efforts. Creating a User Journey Map is one way to help you to do that!
A User Journey Map is a comprehensive and adaptable model that allows an organisation to gain data as it illustrates a user’s journey in detail, starting from initial contact. Users in this case refer to beneficiaries of the social good organisations. This model acts as a first step of comprehension as it identifies the user’s perception of the effective the service is. It can also be used to identify the user’s motivations, user’s actions, reactions, emotions, interactions with touchpoints, interactions with staff, pain points. Such a model allows your organisation to gain insight into the overall flow of the user experience and become cognizant about whether the journey is conducive to the user achieving the desired outcome.
Developing a User Journey Map
A fully mapped out user journey will look something like this:
Image courtesy of Lucidchart.com
Mapping helps your organisation determine opportunities for improvement based on evidence, and thus, is useful in setting specific and actionable goals.
With that in mind, here are factors to consider for the purposes of mapping:
Gather a proper sample size
To gain accurate insight about user engagement, you need to gather a sample size that is statistically representative of an organisation's overall audience.
Determine what motivated your user to engage in the service
Learning about what motivated the user to engage in the service will assist your organisation in developing specific outreach goals. It will also be helpful when solutioning, because your organisation can then work backwards and effectively identify strategies that will motivate new audiences to participate.
Include both people-oriented and process-oriented questions when learning about the user process
It is essential for organisations to understand how users perceive both the operational facets of the journey and the attitudes of staff or other stakeholders they interact with throughout the journey. Identifying these distinctions is extremely useful, as when it is time to develop solutions, it would be easier to pinpoint specific solutions for enhanced engagement.
Try to avoid leading questions
When drafting questions, we recommend questions to be open ended and avoid any leading sentiments. Leading questions refer to questions that suggest a specific answer or push the responder to affirm information the inquirer is looking to confirm. Leading questions often include assumptions about the nature of the matter being discussed. To avoid leading questions, ensure that the question design avoids including any assumptions or implications about a process, practice or a group of stakeholders.
Use the principle of 5 Ws and 1H when drafting questions
The principle of 5 Ws and 1H is using Who, What, When, Where, Why and How in questions. These phrases will help you gather important details about the user journey. Their answers are also easy to distinguish in categories, which always helps when reviewing data for solutioning.
Use a mix of research methods to collect data
It is advised to use a mix of research methods including focus groups and surveys to gather information. Employing a wide range of research methods and staggering their use will allow an organisation to gain insights into user attitudes and investigate initial observed patterns further in depth. Plus, people react differently to varying formats. Adopting a mixed approach will allow your organisation to develop a holistic picture of the user’s perception.
Once all the data has been collected, start categorizing your data into the User Journey Map. When that is completed, you can look at the overall trends, and start analysing your data and create User Profiles.
The data collected for the User Journey Map in the previous step can be used to develop User Profiles. User Profiles are profiles that outline the personality and preference of the average user. While the User Journey Map highlights pain points and general opportunities for improvement, organisations can leverage the User Profiles to take solutioning one step further and develop strategies that are specific to the user’s attitudes. User profiles are useful because they help organisations easily identify and qualify new leads, which may guide marketing and user engagement.
User Profiles often include details from 4 areas: demographics (eg. the user’s age, gender, income level, education level), geographic (eg. location, area), psychographic (eg. lifestyle, goals, habits, values, motivations, interests) and behavioural (eg. level of engagement, engagement history, satisfaction, loyalty, attention required, willingness to share experiences). User profiles often look something like this:
Image courtesy of Tech Target
To optimise the user profile for social good organisations, identify the user's motivations, expectations of desired outcomes and satisfaction of actual outcomes when looking into the user's behavioural and psychographic tendencies. These factors are useful for social good organisations as they are primary in driving participation turnover rate, which can impact an organisation’s credibility.
Here are ways to optimise your user profiles:
Identify any issues that your organisation is trying to solve
Identifying and prioritising points of contention is instrumental in prioritising which areas of the user to focus on when questioning. Refer to the customer user journey in this step to gain an accurate sense of the user’s perspective.
Determine why users are unsatisfied
Often when issues are initially identified, it is easy to jump straight into solutioning. However, before that can be done, it is pivotal to investigate why users are unsatisfied as it will help to understand the user’s priorities and indicate how organisations can approach the issue.
Identify the factors that drive user actions
When gathering data, it is extremely beneficial to determine which activities/factors/behaviours are the most influential in determining the course of the user’s actions. This will help in determining the user's priorities and in turn, what your organisation should be prioritising when solutioning.
Understand the wider landscape
You may get caught up in your user’s journey and how they respond to the organisation’s process, yet it is imperative to not ignore the wider landscape your organisation sits in. Understanding how your organisation's brand sits and is perceived in comparison to others in the landscape will help you determine how to stand out. So, ensure you question users about how they perceive your brand and whether their perceptions align with your organisation's internal perception. Understanding this will also help your organisation with the development of your brand identity and messaging.
Once you have gathered all the relevant information, analysed it and built user profiles, the next step is to begin solutioning.
There are 4 principles to follow when solutioning: 1) focus on generating accurate insights, 2) develop comprehensive strategies, 3) design implementable solutions and 4) be genuine with your messaging.
Firstly, when it comes to insights, it is important to ask yourself “Why”. Why are there certain patterns in audience engagement? Why are users unsatisfied with some steps as opposed to others? This exercise allows you to really draw out actionable statements that can be translated into insights. Although this is already mentioned as a crucial step when analysing data, it is important to repeat this step when generating your insights.
Additionally, try to avoid making assumptions about certain actors or a situation when generating insights. Instead, develop insights that accurately reflect your analyses by focusing on whether the statement realistically fits into the bigger picture. Often, we may draw out micro level insights through analyses, but it is imperative to take a step back and piece insights together to produce macro level insights. This may provide an overview of how an issue impacts the entire organisation.
Secondly, when solutioning, come up with multi-channel initiatives to ensure that your strategies are comprehensive in addressing your issue. Look within your organisation and conduct comprehensive reviews of existing efforts. Use best-in-class examples, which means defining the top-performing results for each metric, to provide clear and immediate points of improvement. For example, the best-in-class performance metric for a company that produces speakers would be to ensure their products achieve the highest quality of sound conversion.
When solutioning, look beyond just the typical avenues you currently use by exploring what players in other industries leverage or by referring to case studies of similar organisations. Explore unorthodox channels such as trying ambassador programs to build engagement and loyalty or develop game nights; in short, anything that will engage your target audience based on your User Profiles.
Thirdly, develop implementable solutions based on your organisational constraints. Every organisation has constraints in some capacity, whether it be their financial resources or manpower. Your goal should be to develop sustainable and long-term engagement, rather than funneling all your resources into something short term.
While we encourage coming up with out-of-the-box solutions, you need to adapt it to match your organisational brand and capacity. It is helpful to categorize your solutions into a feasibility matrix like the one below to gain clarity, then develop a practical timeline for implementing your solutions to stay on top of things.
Image courtesy of mindtools.com
Finally, and perhaps the most important aspect of solutioning is to be genuine in your messaging! It can be easy to get caught up in the numbers and business aspect of running a social good organisation, but ultimately, it is all about the intention and the heart. Develop solutions that reflect the heart of your brand and be authentic as possible in your messaging. People can sense inauthenticity, so it is always recommended to try and develop a genuine connection with your audience.
Optimising your audience engagement does not have to be a daunting task, it just needs to be approached in the right way. One should remember that it is a process not just an outcome, so you are encouraged to develop sustainable efforts through consistent research and analyses rather than proceeding with a quick burst of engagement. Focus on using effective strategies while developing genuine, authentic connections - and the rest will follow.
About the author:
Heerea Rikhraj is a Programme Manager at Conjunct Consulting, Southeast Asia's first social change consultancy that provides low-bono consulting services for social good organisations. Conjunct Consulting has worked with over 150+ organisations, hosts a variety of learning workshops and contributes Thought Leadership pieces to further support the social sector.
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