So you’ve participated in the courses and workshops, read the documentation, even participated in a training session, and you’re wondering what the next big step is for you with NationBuilder. Well, the NationBuilder Expert certification lets you put all the knowledge you've acquired to the test by building your own nation from the ground up.
You can apply for the certification at nationbuilder.com/experts_apply, where you’ll get instructions on how to proceed, but I wanted to spend some time here digging into what we at NationBuilder believe every Expert should understand and giving some advice from my time as Senior Community Strategist that will help you succeed.
The main thing to keep in mind here is that you can find all the technical know how you need online at nationbuilder.com, but what we’re really interested in seeing is if you can think strategically about how to use those features in combination with one another to build a strong infrastructure for your organization or campaign. So with that in mind, let’s talk about some of the higher level ideas behind the features we’ve asked you to use to set up your demo nation.
Website & action pages
The website is the primary way that people will engage with your organization. Every page on the website can prompt a different action - that’s why we call them Action Pages - that you want people to take in order to achieve your goal. The important thing to consider here is not so much the individual action page in a vacuum, but how that action ties in with your broader overall strategy and the different series of engagement actions you’re hoping the people in your community will take. Pages also trigger a lot of other features like paths, point people, and tags to be added to profiles automatically, which helps you learn about your community and organize your workflow. Every page your create should be strategically linked to the kind of actions you want your community to be taking now and in the future.
Point people are more than just assignments. You can use point people to build your entire organizational infrastructure and make sure that work is being delegated and reported back to leaders correctly. Different segments of your community should be assigned to different people based on geography, engagement type, or anything else that helps you organize your community. Using Permission Sets alongside Point People also adds a layer of organization to your infrastructure, as you can determine who sees what in your database.
Tags can be added automatically from an interaction with a page, and let you track very specific actions and types of engagement. A big part of NationBuilder strategy is communicating with people about the things they’re interested in hearing about, and tags let you keep track of issues and items that are most important to your community so that you can target effectively and easily manage your mass communications.
Paths are powerful in two ways. You can track the actions you’re hoping your community will take, when they take them, and how many people are engaging in that way. You can also use them to manage your own workflow and set reminders and tasks for yourself. They’re at their best, though, when they do both. Since each step on a path is customizable, you can set a step based on an action your community takes and follow it up with a step in your workflow that you need to take to keep that person engaged. By combining these proactive and reactive steps, you can easily set up repeatable processes for your volunteers and staff so that they can spend more time working towards your goals and less time trying to figure out what they need to do.
What are you working towards if you haven’t set any goals? Goals are a great way to track your progress towards the milestones that make your organization or campaign successful, and they also integrate with other NationBuilder features like Finances and Volunteers so that you can keep close track of everything you’re trying to accomplish. That’ll keep your team motivated and let you as a leader track your overall progress as a community so that you can keep everyone on the right track.
Email blasting & broadcasters
There are a lot of ways you can talk to people, and email is one of the easiest and most straightforward. The problem is that sometimes it can feel too easy, and the temptation to blast everyone in your database at the same time can be strong. Keep in mind that it’s just as easy for your supporters to decide they’re not interested in your emails anymore, and that they can start to ignore them, unsubscribe, or even click spam whenever they want, so think of email blasting not as a giant “Reply All” button, but as a method for speaking to targeted groups of people about things you know they care about. When you’re using your tags, filters, point people, and paths to decide who’s going to get what email, you’ll know that every person receiving your email is getting something they’re interested in, and your community will be excited to hear from you because they know you’ve got their interests on your mind with each blast.
Filters & targeting
NationBuilder’s searchable database is one of its most powerful tools, and when you’re able to tie creative searches back to the features outlined above so that every piece of communication you send out is aimed at the optimal audience, you’ll be moving closer to achieving your goals and empowering your community with every email and post. Every time you’re setting something up in your control panel, stop and think about if this is going to the best audience. Is your event reminder email going to the people who live in the same neighborhood as the venue? Are general volunteer asks going to people who have never volunteered before and more specific ones going to people who have? Are you still emailing the people who haven’t opened your newsletter in a year? Using filters to target lets you answer every question about your community before you ask them to take action so that you can be sure that your messaging is reaching the audience where it’s going to be most effective.