Political Campaign Marketing Tools and Tactics

Digital Tools and Tactics for Campaigns

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Deciding what political campaigns marketing tools to use and how to use them when prepping for a campaign launch can be daunting.

Learning to wield the power of the tools at our disposal is an ever-evolving process as target audiences shift, mediums change, and new ones are created.

Here are 10 political campaign marketing tools to think about when building a strong, effective, and efficient campaign.

Team Communication

You need a clear and scalable way to communicate with your team. You want a place for approvals, sharing news, rapid response, ideation, and strategic planning.

Ideally, email for internal communications is kept to very official interactions and is mostly be used for communicating with external people and groups.

Slack is a scalable way to have various channels with clear purposes and one on one communication with staff.

Google Drive continues to be a godsend for collaborating across teams.

TIP: Optimize the campaign for rapid response! An approval process should be established early-on for long-term plans but also for responding to timely relevant events.

Know the topline messaging for campaign issues. Stay on top of what is in the media, especially if your race, opposition, or top issues are in the news cycle. Ideally, your approval process doesn’t bottleneck through one person as trust needs to be built on the team and you can’t let perfect be your enemy in a fast-paced cycle.

Social Media

Your campaign needs a presence on major social media platforms. In the current social landscape, you should start with at least Facebook. If you can, we recommend you expand to Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram as well.

Social media is a key place to publically tell the story of your campaign, encourage engagement, motivate your base, and bring in new supporters. 

TIP: Think outside the box to reach your audience! Think about who your target audience is and consider joining other social networking sites like Reddit, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, Snapchat, Medium and more.

Website

You need a website when you launch. A website legitimizes your campaign. It has information and is a place where people can join, take action, and donate to your campaign.

If you have limited resources or time, you canlaunch with a splash page which would at least have a photo, branding, logo, social media links, a sign-up form, and donation link. Translate the website into the languages of your audience so all of your potential constituents can read about your platform.

TIP: Never stop asking! If people submit a join form you can redirect them to a donation form. If they complete their donation form you can ask them to share the donation page on social media. Your supporters can be your biggest most authentic megaphone.

Data & Donations

Develop an infrastructure to collect data and process donations. A Customer Relationship Management system (CRM) will store your data and collect money. Many CRMs have additional features beneficial in your campaign from petitions to template landing page capability. If you don’t have many resources you could use a tool like MailChimp.

If you have more resources popular CRMs include Blue State Digital, NGP VAN, and ActionKit. ActBlue is a fantastic donation CRM that has integrations with major CRMs and optimizes the donation experience.

The data you want to prioritize will depend on the goals of the campaign, but know the launch could be one of the biggest acquisition and fundraising opportunities of the campaign.

A good starting point would be to collect email addresses, ZIP codes, and first names.

The shorter a form the more likely it is to be filled out. You can always ask for additional info later.

Ask if people want to volunteer and HOW they want to volunteer with multiple options. Ask people what issues they care about most. This will inform your campaign and ensure you can send segmented messages on issues. Source all of your links so you know where, how, and when people are joining and then you can retarget them appropriately and collect data on how your links are performing.

Text Messaging

You should have a way to text your audience.

With a 98 percent open and read rate and almost everyone walking around with a cell phone, text messaging is a key way to break through the noise and meet people where they are at.

Broadcast texting and peer to peer texting are incredibly effective and dynamic tools for your toolbox. Texting can help with organizing, name ID, event turnout, volunteer, fundraising and studies show it increases voter turnout.

Revere Mobile and Relay are popular text messaging tools that use their platforms for Democratic candidates.

A texting opt-in at the launch event can be used as a way for people to join your campaign. Broadcast texting is an unmatched tool in your political campaign marketing toolbox for rapid response. It is your best bet at ensuring almost everyone who you send to will see the message in just one click.

Peer to peer texting can be a great way to use the omnipresent cellphone when you don’t have an opt-in. It can be used for recruitment to a launch event or to send out a launch video to increase name ID. You can text non-opted in numbers collected in your forms or you can purchase numbers and text them about your campaign to see if they want to join. While door knocking remains one of the best ways to put volunteers to work, it can be a lower lift and more accessible to have texting volunteers.

Email

Email is one of your best places to tell the story of your campaign in a personal way to your base. If you are starting small with limited resources, look for your friends, family, co-workers, and community members email addresses to let them know about your campaign launch and how they can join, donate, and spread the word among friends.

Make sure you have an email prepped and ready to go for the day of your launch. You will also want an automated email welcome series for people who sign up on your site. A great welcome series will escalate from thanking people for joining to telling the story of why you are running. Then, it will give folks a way to take action like donating, signing up to volunteer, following you across all social platforms, or helping spread the word to their networks. 

TIP: Always test! Most CRMs make testing emails easy. A subject line test is a low lift and is a key indicator to see you how many people will open your email.

Branding

While you should have a great logo, branding is so much more than a logo. Your brand is everything you put out publicly to create a cohesive image of your campaign. It includes look, feel, colors, merchandise, email templates, even candidate clothing choices. Branding is about authorship and making sure people know exactly where the message is coming from.

TIP: Use your social media real estate to hit home your branding elements. Have a good clean profile photo, and ideally, you won’t change it throughout the campaign. Think about the unfortunately iconic RealDonaldTrump Twitter photo, changing it would lose lots of immediate recognition.

Advertising

Have an advertising plan at launch. There are a few basics you need to to advertise. A pixel on your website will set you up to retarget site viewers. Think about when you look for shoes online, and then all of a sudden those shoes appear on your Facebook newsfeed. That doesn’t happen by coincidence. That happens through a pixel. 

Facebook remains one of the best places to reach people. Think about the audience you want to reach and build target audiences based on the copious options on Facebook. One of the most incredible tools on Facebook is the ability to create a look-a-like audience to target people who have similar interests and demographics as the people already on your list.

Video and Photo

Have several photos and videos of the candidate for launch and a plan to shoot more at the launch. These visual and dynamic assets are crucial to tell the campaign story, create social media and ad content, and have a compelling website.

TIP: While smartphone cameras are better and better, invest in a DSLR or hire a professional. Take photos at a large community event, speaking publicly and interacting with voters.

Follow Up

Develop a plan to build on momentum post-launch! The launch is just the beginning. Engage with your current supporters and continue to employ tactics to bring in new people and reach your target audience. Move people up the ladder of engagement by asking them how they want to be involved, what issues they care about, and to ultimately become reliable voters, volunteers, donors, and more.

TIP: Build a super volunteer space for your most loyal supporters. This will be a core group you can count on to support and share your message, events, actions, and opportunities.

Political Campaign Marketing Tools

As your campaign prepares to launch, these political campaign marketing tools are essential to drawing the attention your campaign deserves. They can help give your campaign the early boost it needs to be successful.

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Carla is Senior Vice President of Strategy at Revolution Messaging overseeing a team that utilizes digital strategies for hundreds of organizations, unions, and candidates. They are passionate about the ways digital and field can work together to create winning movements. Carla was the lead mobile strategist for Bernie Sanders 2016, served as the Digital Director of Daily Action, and worked with Black Out for Human Rights to raise $150K in 24 hours for communities affected by the Flint water crisis. Carla is from Miami, FL and graduated from Colby College in Waterville, ME with degrees in Environmental Policy and Film. Carla can be found in Washington, DC axe throwing, sailing, or organizing LGBTQ+ dance party protests.