Generations of campaign strategists have lived by a simple credo: Get Out The Vote. If your supporters don’t show up to the polls, it won’t matter how polished your stump speech was, how attractive your mailers were, or how much money your raised.
In fact, 26 years after he narrowly lost the presidency, Michael Dukakis continues to regret not focusing enough on a grassroots GOTV strategy.
Digital marketing strategies will never fully supplant traditional campaign outreach efforts – voters still respond best to a personal touch — but these technologies are becoming increasingly advanced and refined to effectively supplement time-honored game plans.
Digital marketing can help your campaign pivot quickly, improve efficiency, amplify your voice, expand your audience, and reduce wasted ad spend – freeing up time and resources that can be used elsewhere.
Knocking on doors is perhaps the most laborious, yet essential, piece of your GOTV effort. It takes time, bodies, and lots of coordination, and still your team may chalk up more misses than hits. Yet it is the best way to make connections and identify your base.
So if while knocking doors you identify a potential supporter, now what? Many companies now offer cutting-edge voter tracking software that allows you to easily manage your growing list of supporters. In addition, the supporter should be encouraged to follow the campaign’s (hopefully) robust and informative social media accounts (be sure to thank them later for following!) And if you encourage them to visit your campaign website, an active retargeting strategy can place online display ads in front of your new supporter, helping to reinforce your message.
You’ve identified a neighborhood where turnout is critical. Yes, you’ve got door-knockers and phone calls, but with voters spending more and more time online, digital and mobile display ads can help fill crucial gaps. You’re now able to microtarget voters based on thousands of demographic segments, including gender, party affiliation, and voting history. In some cases, ads can be served up to areas as specific as a city block or a group of apartments.
Imagine being able to place Display ads that can be monitored for performance through a 24/7 dashboard, and quickly altered to change up messaging if needed. The key benefit of this type of advertising is the efficiency – on television and radio your ad may be heard or seen by voters who can’t vote for you; microtargeting allows you to virtually eliminate wasted impressions.
Social media is billed as the new word-of-mouth, and does serve as an easy publishing tool to push out press releases or positive media coverage. But campaigns that know how to use social media also use it to document slices of life on the campaign trail. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram provide supporters or even fence-sitters with a glimpse into the campaign – and hopefully they’re seeing energy, excitement, and activity. If they do, there’s a greater chance they’ll want to join in and help as Election Day nears.
A quick anecdote: a campaign spent a recent Saturday installing lawn signs. Later that evening the campaign posted a collage of some of the installed signs while thanking supporters. That single post generated more than a dozen additional requests for lawn signs from supporters, including a number of high-profile locations.
As Election Day nears, remember to take advantage of the reach social media offers and invite supporters to help. You may find your campaign with an expanded army of GOTV volunteers!
Between your traditional campaign strategies and your embrace of digital media tactics, hopefully your campaign now has a sprawling network of volunteers ready to help with GOTV efforts. Websites and social media can help keep your team updated on the latest activities. Think of your campaign website as your 24/7 online campaign headquarters. It should be a place supporters can go for information, such as where to meet for canvassing, what time the phone bank starts, and who to contact with more questions. Twitter hashtags are another way to coordinate volunteers and supporters. A hashtag unique to the campaign, or even to a specific GOTV event, can help supporters stay informed, provide updates, and participate in an ongoing conversation.
Getting out the vote is hard work, but critical to your campaign’s success. Knock on doors. Identify supporters. Make phone calls. Rinse, repeat until Election Day.
Digital marketing strategies and tools can efficiently and effectively help bolster your efforts, adding layers of coverage, while freeing up time and resources that can be used elsewhere.