The Engagement Ladder Theory

12 Implementing the Engagement Ladder Snapshot

Red, pink, and orange flowers in blue pots decorate a white wall with a sculpture of an old man giving a boy on a ladder a potted plant in the centre.
Photo by Jessica Alves on Unsplash

Before you begin planning how to lead your supporters to the top of the ladder, it is a good idea to discover where they currently are. This is known as a Ladder of Engagement Snapshot. It is essentially a report that breaks down how many supporters you have on each “rung” of your ladder.

The Ladder of Engagement Snapshot is useful because you can use it to inform the actions you proceed with in the future, and can refer to it frequently to see if you’ve successfully moved your supporters up the ladder.

Defining Your Ladder

The first step in creating a Ladder of Engagement Snapshot is defining your ladder. Make a list of the types of call-to-actions your organization has desired, then place them in order from the easiest action your audience can take, to the most difficult.

You may decide that several easier actions can earn someone a higher place on the ladder. You also may want to label the different levels on the ladder. For example, your ladder could start with easy actions, then build up to more difficult ones and look something similar to this:

  • Inactives: Subscribed to your email list but haven’t taken action in the last three months.
  • Supporters: Have signed 1-2 petitions in the last three months.
  • Activists: Have signed 3-4 petitions in the last three months, but have not taken any other actions.
  • Super Activists: Have signed more than 4 petitions in the last three months, and/or have written a letter to the editor.

Find Out How Many Supporters are on Each Rung

The next step is to query your database to find out how many supporters fall onto each level of the ladder. Exactly how you go about doing this depends on your action-taking tool. You may find it helpful to go back and refine your ladder based on the information that’s available in your particular tool. This is also a good opportunity to identify how many supporters you would like to have in each. Not only does this allow a reasonable goal, but it allows you to see how well you have done so far.

Once you’ve got your Ladder of Engagement Snapshot, be sure to share your findings throughout your organization so others can benefit from knowing and recognizing the different levels of your organization’s supporters. Also, run the report regularly to measure change over time. Twice a year is recommended to compare results.

A ladder with each rung labelled from bottom to top as follows: Easy actions, harder actions, even harder actions, and very hard actions.
Ladder of Engagement” by the Netroots Foundation is licensed under a CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 licence.
  • Easy actions: Sharing a status update or forwarding an email.
  • Harder actions: Making a donation.
  • Even harder actions: Becoming a volunteer.
  • Very hard actions: Helping with leadership or becoming a board member.

Continued Learning


This page contains material taken from:

Foley, M. (2013, September 17). Netroots Foundation | Where are your supporters on the Ladder of Engagement? | Winning the Internet. Retrieved June 1, 2020, from



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An Open Guide to Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) Copyright © by Andrea Niosi and KPU Marketing 4201 Class of Summer 2020 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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