Marketing an Online Political Campaign

June 21, 2009

Political websites are one of New Media Campaigns' specialties. And oftentimes, we give suggestions for how to best market the websites we build. We've done several on-line ad campaigns for political clients in the last few weeks so I thought I'd share a couple guidelines, both with regard to ads and also to political marketing in general.

How to get the most out of your ads

  • Placement is key. The efficiency of banner ads in general isn't stellar (less than 1%) and if you don't place your ads in front of the right audience then you don't have a chance. Look into local newspapers' websites. Advertise in the politics section obviously, but don't forget to advertise in areas that reflect the issues that are important to your campaign. Google's adwords and Facebook ads are both very inexpensive and should be at least a part of your online marketing campaign. Google allows you to target users who are searching for keywords that directly relate to your campaign. Facebook does the same except with people's interests instead of their searches
  • Your ad should be a call to action. With banner ads, you have one or two sentences at most so you need to make every character count. Readers are probably only going to glance at your ad so unless it stands out and inspires the reader to take action, you don't have a shot at getting them to check out your website (which is the whole point, right?).
  • Use more than one ad. You never know what ad will bring the masses to your website so when you're placing ads online, create two or three and rotate them. Then monitor them throughout your campaign and if one ad is producing significantly fewer clicks than the other, take it down. It doesn't make sense to place all your eggs in one ad-basket. Create a few and let real data decide which ads you're going to stick with.
  • Use CPC as opposed to CPM when possible. The goal of banner ads is to redirect web users to your website. So don't pay for just impressions when you don't have to. Pay for clicks on your ad since that's what you want anyways. Both Google and Facebook allow this option but they're not the only ones. Look into the sites you're advertising on and if they allow a 'cost per click' option, take it.

How to get the most out of blogs

  • Research blogs that are relevant to your platforms. Look into both political and non-political blogs that align with the issues that are important to your campaign. People choose to read blogs that interest them. If your campaign is pertinent to the blogs you've researched then it's likely that your issues are pertinent to the readers of those blogs and they'll be more likely to take to heart the information you present.
  • Send bloggers a personal email. Your research should include not just the blog but also the person writing the blog. Send that person a personal email detailing who you are, what your issues are and most importantly, why they are relevant to the blogger and the blog she writes (note: changing the name at the top of a templated email does not qualify as personal). Bloggers are always looking for something new and interesting to write about especially if it appeals to their readers. If your campaign will appeal to the blogger's readers, try getting her to write a post about you. You'll reach a large group of readers/potential supporters without the trust barrier that comes along with traditional advertising.
  • Don't send bloggers mass emails. I touched on this earlier but bloggers can be your enemy just as easily as they can be your friend. They have the ability to reach people who want to read about topics relating to the issues surrounding your campaign. Don't irritate these bloggers by spamming them with mass emails. You want them on your side not writing about how annoying it is to get email after email from you. Which brings me to my last point...
  • Email, but don't email too much. Not so much about blogs but, if someone has indicated that they want to receive updates about your campaign, don't violate that trust by emailing them several times a week. You want the people who get your emails to read what they say and the more often you email, the more likely it is that they will just delete the email or unsubscribe from your mailing list.

What are you doing to market your political campaign? Have you employed any of these strategies to success? To failure? Do you have any other suggestions? Let me know in the comments below

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