It’s pretty common these days for organizations to use petition sites such as Change.org, Care2 and SignOn.org to grow their email lists. Sites like these allow organizations to reach new audiences and add people to their lists who are interested in their issue and may become active supporters or donors. In today’s post we’re going to take a closer look at the cost to acquire email addresses with these sites.
As with the other posts in this series, the purpose of this post is to give you an idea of how much these tools cost so you can plan accordingly. Please note that the numbers in this post are rough approximations. Actual numbers may be higher or lower, based on volume, timing, etc.
Any organization can create a petition on Change.org for free, and download the names, city, state and zip of all signers. Additionally, organizations can download all email addresses for individuals who opt-in to receive more information from the organization. Free petitions rely entirely on your own promotion efforts to drive signatures & have people opt-in to your email list via Facebook, email, etc. If you don’t want to do this, you can pay Change.org to promote your petition for you.
This generally means signing a contract with Change.org for a specific number of people who sign your petition and opt-in to your email list. Change.org will promote your petition until it recruits the number of opt-ins agreed upon. The cost is generally somewhere around $1.75 per email address. A bit more if you’re interested in acquiring names from a specific region only (geo-targeted) or demographic. Again, the true cost may be a bit different. To receive a quote specific to your needs, contact Change.org directly.
Similar to Change.org, you can create a petition for free on Care2.com. When you use this method, you’ll be able to download names and addresses, but not their email addresses. So, these petition signatures can help you achieve your advocacy goals, but won’t help you grow your email list. Again, you’ll need to promote the petition yourself if you hope to attract many signers.
If you don’t want to do that, Care2 offers several paid products that can help you grow your list. The starting price for a small campaign is $1.75 per email address. Like Change.org, they charge a bit more for region-specific addresses (geo-targeted). These email addresses may come from folks that sign a petition you create, from users that register with Care2, or from the several hundred media partners Care2 works with (ex: MotherJones, Daily Kos, etc.)—you can work with Care2 to determine this.
Care2 also offers a bunch of other services. All of them are permission-based (so subscribers give Care2 permission to add them to your list, etc.). Here’s a quick rundown of some of them, with rough costs.
Again, the true cost may be higher or lower. To receive a quote or learn more about these products, contact Care2 directly.
SignOn.org is different for a couple of reasons. First of all, SignOn is a completely free tool. There is no paid version of SignOn. Instead, when you create a petition on SignOn, they automatically email a tiny portion of the MoveOn list about it. If those members seem interested (if they’re signing and indicate it’s something MoveOn should promote), the tool will email your petition to a larger and larger portion of their list. So, if your petition really resonates with folks, the upside could be big.
Organizations can apply to be part of SignOn’s Progressive Partner program. Partners can download a csv file with complete contact information, including email address, for all signers that weren’t already on MoveOn’s email list.
You can correspond with anyone who signs one of your petitions through the SignOn tool (including MoveOn list members). If you really want to be able to email MoveOn signers through the email tool you normally use (ex: Salsa), you can contact them through SignOn and ask them to join your email list. The bottom line here is that SignOn is free, but may require more time and maintenance on your part.
Should you try it?
If you’ve never run a free petition on one of these sites, why not give it a try and see how it goes?
If you’re reticent about trying one of the paid services, I suggest experimenting with Change.org or Care2’s basic email acquisition product. Try running a test with a couple of thousand dollars, tracking the behavior of your new supporters over time, and calculating the ROI. If the return is positive, you can use this evidence to make a case for allocating more budget to this in the future.
Paid acquisition may not be for everyone, and it certainly should never be the only way you grow your list. That being said, it can be a great tool for organizations that have a little bit of money to spend. Personally, I’m a fan of these sites because they have access to progressive audiences, and because it is pretty easy to calculate ROI and objectively evaluate this work.