It’s no secret; acquiring the right audience is getting more difficult and expensive. We recently led a round table at CampaignTech East, a conference for political campaign management and consultants, on the topic of preparing your database for the upcoming political season.
Many of the items in our discussion appeared to be specific to political campaigns, but I was struck with how the challenges of campaigns mirrored traditional B2C marketers in sectors such as retail and hospitality.
That said, there are a few unique challenges political campaigns face in their marketing programs:
Given these unique challenges, we have 4 tips for improving your engagement.
Using the information you have is key, but with everything, there are always knowledge gaps that 3rd party appended data can help provide. Consider Ariana Grande’s endorsement of Bernie Sanders; while this is useful for engaging 18-25 year old voters, it probably won’t be as effective for the 45+ crowd who might be more impressed with an endorsement from the founders of Ben & Jerry's. Understanding key details, about your contacts, such as demographics and behavioral data, helps strategically tailor your message for optimal engagement. If you aren’t seeing this data come through your website already, you can invest in 3rd party data appending services.
For example, let's say you have an expansive database of postal addresses but very few email addresses. That makes your offline campaign pretty strong, but what about digital connections? When you properly link offline and online, you open new channels for engagement including email, display advertising, retargeting, etc. The more channels available, the more chances you have to reach your audience in the right place at the right time.
Add to this those behavioral data points about your supporters and you can generate accurate and highly personalized messages.
To engage across both direct and digital channels, personalization is key to success. No matter what, knowing your audience helps direct your ask and match the right ask to the right person. Let’s think for a moment – who would you ask to donate as part of a fundraiser?
Would you ask the same person to donate $5 or $500? What about subscriptions to one-click donations? That messaging surely wouldn’t go to the corporate business owner who gave a large gift last election. You can request a number of things from supporters, from donations to canvassing and more, but not all at once and definitely not to the same people.
Knowing your audience well is also critical to building thoughtful, engaging drip campaigns. The cadence, the messaging, the key issues, even the voice can be personalized to fit various supporters and encourage them to engage with your campaign. But at the end of the day, you have to make sure your data is clean.
Campaigns are short, and you have zero time for deliverability issues. Whether getting emails from your website, external lists, or previously managed campaigns by others, don’t run the risk of ruining your reputation. Clean your email database for successful drip campaign deliverability and supporter engagement.
A digital registration is a surefire way to gather an email address and any other pertinent information to appropriately and effectively engage supporters in your campaign. But what if someone doesn’t register on your website? If that’s the case, there’s always the option to use 3rd party services that match all website visitors back to an email address or hashed email.
What are the benefits of 3rd party matching services? As a campaign manager, you have the ability to turn on other messaging channels to engage with your supporters. Alongside a stellar campaign email, sending a piece of physical mail improves your chances of gaining a vote for your candidate on election day.
This also helps you build data around visitors for when they return to your website – You can understand what pages they viewed, the issues that matter to them, and direct your messaging accordingly. At the same time, you’re growing your database and maximizing the ad spend you currently have on other platforms. This means maximizing your advertising investment by providing an option to communicate with all website visitors.
Once you’ve identified the anonymous browsers, you can take the next step to supporter acquisition success.
Now that you understand who is coming to your website and have an email address to send messages to, you can start running a strategic email retargeting campaign. With an email retargeting campaign, you can utilize the pages that those prospects and once-anonymous browsers visited to send relevant, engaging messaging. You can also integrate relevant PII such as demographic information, behavioral data, and other key points that tell you what matters to that particular supporter. If you don’t yet have these important data points, you can always take the step to append it to your contact records.
Each of the four tips is applicable up ballot and down ballot, from national to municipal campaigns. If you can successfully identify supporters, communicate across channels with direct mail and email retargeting, and appropriately, effectively personalize your message, the fact that you can no longer use Google’s ad retargeting will be a non-issue.
Following the steps above help ensure your contact database contains real, valid email addresses with contextual data to better inform, segment, and personalize your next election's email campaign. By doing this, you are more likely to engage voters to show their support both at the polls and in their communities for your candidate in a way that best suits them. To start using any of the services listed above, contact our team and we'll help you get started!