Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Acquiring Political E-mails for Best Response, Dollars

Political campaigns and nonprofit causes are always seeking to acquire new "good" e-mail addresses to grow and sustain their lists. Campaign marketers should be interested then in a two-part study provided by Jesse Bacon to epolitics.com. Bacon, of PowerThru Consulting, looked at an environmental cause client's data to tease out which e-mails by acquisition route offered the best performance in terms of cost-effective response. He compared three common ways that political and advocacy campaigns acquire e-mails: 1) paid acquisition; 2) online advertising, including social media (in this case study, Bacon focused on Facebook ads); and 3) list exchanges with like-minded groups. He found that e-mails from swaps led performance in terms of open rates, click rates and click-to-open ratios. Paid acquisition came in second, and e-mails from Facebook ads came in last in opens and clicks, although they still performed above industry average and so were a potentially viable way to build an e-mail list because of Facebook's low cost. The next part of his analysis looked at how those same e-mail acquisition groups performed in terms of fundraising dollars over an 18-month period. Here list exchanges really shone, contributing 45% of new members but 66% of all funds raised. Facebook was the bottom performer, accounting for 22% of the new members but only 10% of funds raised. When it comes to donation per member by acquisition source, Bacon found that swaps and acquisitions both performed about the same in terms of the average gift (between $19 and $20), while the Facebook members were less generous, with an average gift just over $15. For more detail, go to http://www.epolitics.com/2014/07/22/email-acquisition-performance-part-2-who-pays-the-bills/

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Do Digital Myths Drive Away Campaign Ad Dollars?

Why has digital marketing failed to catch fire with political campaigners? Despite hype about its cost-effective success in the 2012 election, online is still forecast to make up only a minor portion of 2014 campaign ad spending (3%), way behind the big bucks for TV. In contrast, brand advertisers spend 25% of budgets on digital. In a recent Campaigns & Elections magazine article, Bryan Gernert, CEO of Resonate, took on three myths that he believes cause political campaigns to underuse digital marketing. First, he notes, political campaigns are comfortable with their offline voter files and donor lists, and assume that online "big data" is geared to brand marketing. Gernert argues that this short-sighted focus on voter lists -- keying on party affiliation and past voting behavior -- misses insights from digital sources about current, dynamic voter values and issues, which is vital to wooing swing voters. Bringing static offline voter data online and enhancing it with up-to-date digital data points will allow campaigns to better target both swing voters and partisans. The second myth is that political campaigns have time and geographic constraints that could stymie success with digital. Not true, asserts Gernert. In fact, online is the ideal medium for tight geotargeting and quick turnaround. Geotargeted online marketing provides flexibility, real-time feedback, and more rapid testing, analytics and response than traditional channels. Finally, many politicos apparently still assume that voters rely more on traditional media for political information. Another myth exposed by the facts: Pew Research found that, by 2012, online/mobile sites had surpassed radio and newspapers as the main source of news consumption. Resonate's own data shows that the percent of registered voters who say they are moderate to heavy consumers of online news is only slightly lower than those who are moderate to heavy viewers of TV news. See the complete article at http://www.campaignsandelections.com/magazine/us-edition/446727/debunking-3-myths-preventing-campaigns-from-embracing-digital-ads.thtml

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Political E-mail Subject Lines: Why So Weird?

Political fundraisers' e-mail subject lines have taken a decided turn toward Crazy Town. A July article by Chris Good of ABC News highlighted just a few recent examples: "Can we chat real quick?" "Wow just wow," "Empty Beer Mugs," "STOP THEM," "I'm going to book your flight and hotel," "Sarah Palin berated me," "Here's the thing," and on and on. Most of these were not fundraising appeals by local fringe candidates but rather messages by knowledgeable political agencies, the Democratic National Committee (DNC), or House and Senate campaigns. Why so weird? Blame it on the e-mail success of the Obama campaign back in 2012, with subject lines such as "hey" and "Do you still live in Illinois?" Those subject lines were scientifically tested on Obama's 13 million e-mail list and won more response. In 2014's midterm fundraising drives, political e-mail gurus are finding that offbeat and personal still test well. "People's inboxes are very much like their Facebook feeds right now," Anne Lewis, head of the Democratic Anne Lewis Strategies consulting firm, explained to Good. "What makes someone want to open an e-mail is if you've invoked their curiosity, or induced anger or... an argument." There's also a follow-the-leader factor, with House and Senate candidates seeking to emulate Obama's success, and smaller campaigns, faced with more limited test universes, borrowing from larger groups and races. But once everybody does it, impact can wain. Good cited the rise of new tactics for e-mail attention-getting: Subject line emoji (a DNC ploy); long subject lines (anti-"hey"); ALL CAPS (shouting works, too); lines ending with a colon (open for more); doom and gloom ("HORRIFYING," "bad news," "throw in the towel" wails the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee); and customized preview text. For more examples and discussion, see http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/empty-beer-mugs-political-mails-weirder/story?id=24416505

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

How Political Campaigns Fail on Facebook

Political campaigns and causes may know they need a social media presence today, but do they know how to properly and effectively leverage social visibility? Maybe it's a good time to revisit a 2012 post by Tyler Pearson of New Media Campaigns, a web design and development agency, on the 10 most common mistakes that political campaigns make on Facebook. Here's a no brainer: If you build it, they aren't going to just come. A Facebook page needs to be promoted to voters and supporters. Put links everywhere possible online and add a Facebook url to direct mail, TV ads, campaign literature and speeches. Here's a seemingly obvious but common mistake: An icon is an attractive way to wave a social flag, but it makes no sense offline (you can't click a postcard), so put the Facebook url on non-digital material. And while you're at it, make it a vanity url that is easier to remember than the numbered default. Vanity urls are available as soon as the page reaches a minimum number of Facebook "likes." By the way, we have been talking about Facebook pages here, not profiles. As Pearson points out, campaigns should use all the space and promotional options of a page not a personal profile of a candidate or cause leader. Campaigns can avoid confusion if both a page and profile exist by temporarily hiding the profile, Pearson suggests. Then what do you do with that Facebook page? Don't leave visitors staring at the Wall and reading dull press releases, use custom landing tabs for donation calls to action, e-mail sign-ups, etc. For more advice, go to http://www.newmediacampaigns.com/blog/10-common-mistakes-political-campaigns-make-with-facebook-pages

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Data Advances Transform TV Ad Targeting, Costs

Improved data technology is revolutionizing political TV ad targeting and spending, stresses a recent report by The Wall Street Journal. Borrowing from traditional direct-mail targeting methods, data analysts now can mine information about where a person lives, how he or she has voted and what products have been purchased to predict future political behavior -- and then match those voters to TV viewer data about what shows individuals watch and when they watch them. This allows TV ad targeting to drill down to a much deeper level than blanket TV ad buys using traditional audience stats. For example, DirecTV Group Inc. and Dish Network Corp., the country's two biggest satellite-TV providers, now offer direct access to chosen households, so one person might see a campaign ad during a show that his next-door neighbor won't see even if watching the same show. Cablevision Systems Corp. and Comcast Spotlight, a division of Comcast Corp., also have started providing campaigns with detailed, real-time information about what people are watching. Sensitive to possible privacy concerns, ad buyers and sellers stressed to WSJ that individual privacy is being protected by encryption, removal of names and identifiers, and third-party matching of anonymous voter and TV viewer data. But the bottom line is that these new data tools are allowing campaigns to reach pivotal voters at lower TV-ad costs. Advocates of the new TV targeting for both Republicans and Democrats told WSJ that they can help a campaign stretch its ad budget by as much as 30%. That's certainly good news when political campaigns will spend about 57% of their overall advertising budgets on broadcast TV, and another 15% on cable, according to projections by Kantar Media's Campaign Media Analysis Group! For examples of how real campaigns have used the new TV targeting, read the WSJ story: http://online.wsj.com/articles/political-ads-take-targeting-to-the-next-level-1405381606

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Even Social Sites Divide Along Party Lines

Social media is a must for political campaigning today, but it turns out that most social platforms are not unbiased forums, according to a recent survey by the Harvard Institute of Politics as reported in a New York Times post. According to the Harvard survey, Democrats prefer to share on Google Plus and Twitter, while Republicans are Pinterest fans. Facebook is both the most popular and most politically neutral social media environment, with 87% of Republicans and 87% of Democrats saying they use the site. Snapchat also appeals equally to smaller portions of both parties (24% Democrats and 23% of Republicans). But most of the rest of the social media world is dominated by Democrats, with Google Plus (52% of Dems; 36% of GOP), Twitter (46% of Dems; 38% of GOP), Instagram, WhatsApp and Tumblr all more popular with the left side of aisle. Only Pinterest garners more interest from Republicans (40%) than Democrats (32%), and social observers theorized that this may be because 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his wife often used it during their campaign. Bottom line: Candidates and causes seeking to corral supporters should consider the political bent of social media options when committing resources. See the full post at http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/04/30/the-political-preferences-of-social-media-sites/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Study: Parties Face Polarized, Disaffected Voters

Partisan polarization, combined with growth of unpredictable, disaffected voter blocs, will challenge both Republican and Democratic candidates this year and in 2016, according to a recent Pew Research Center report. Pew's "voter typology" divides voters into cohesive groups based on attitudes and values to provide a "field guide" to the changing political landscape. The latest study describes eight voter types, including three groups that are strongly ideological, highly politically engaged and overwhelmingly partisan. Two of those three partisan voter types form the Republican base: Steadfast Conservatives (anti-government and socially conservative) and Business Conservatives (pro-business, limited government types but social moderates). Meanwhile, voters categorized as Solid Liberals provide loyal Democratic Party support. However, these three partisan voter types make up just 36% of the public and 43% of registered voters, which means victory for either party will depend on problematic wooing of votes from groups that are less predictable, less engaged and have "little in common with each other or the groups at either end of the political spectrum." Those five, less-partisan voter types are Young Outsiders (Republican-leaning but socially liberal), Hard-Pressed Skeptics (financially soured, former Obama backers), Next Generation Left (young, affluent, socially liberal but fiscally cautious), Faith and Family Left (Democrat-leaning but religious/socially traditional), and Bystanders (10% of the public and not registered to vote). Republican campaigns are likely to be further challenged by growing schisms between Steadfast Conservatives and Business Conservatives over social issues, big-business power and foreign policy, Pew researchers add. For details of the Pew study, go to http://www.people-press.org/2014/06/26/the-political-typology-beyond-red-vs-blue/