Political Candidates: Your Digital Ground Game is More Important Than Ever

digital ground game

Candidates, forget conventional campaigning. With the coronavirus pandemic dominating the headlines, how you campaign, where your campaign and campaign timing has changed. No more Memorial Day parades, no more Fourth of July community picnics, no more canvassers knocking on voter’s doors. Life in general and political life specifically has moved online. 

With more people working, learning, shopping, and socializing from home, it is imperative to reach voters where they are now. The rules of engagement have changed, political candidates must have a robust online presence that reflects not only who they are and what they stand for but also incorporate a digital strategy that keeps up with the headlines. What face-to-face and relationship-based interactions mean has changed and become disproportionately valuable.

By using one-to-one marketing techniques and best practices, Hudson Collective helps improve candidate marketing efforts. Accomplished by actively tracking and responding to your constituents’ needs and concerns, this gives your audience a more flexible and educational voter journey, while keeping them engaged in the campaign process.

Elements of their journey could include virtual events, online canvassing, live stream and pre-recorded videos, a website, social media, emails and any other form of content that allows you to cater to your constituent’s needs. Candidates can run successful campaigns using existing internal data and curated data to understand the wants and needs of your community and specific audiences within it.

How Campaigns Deliver Highly Personalized Voter Experiences

New technology puts candidate’s political marketing messages where they can’t go on Election Day, on voters’ tablets or laptops when they scroll through their social media accounts while taking a break during a long day working from home or on their smartphones while they are waiting in line at the polls. 

And this shift to a more personal online presence becomes even more impactful when reaching out to absentee voters.  

With an anticipated increase in voting by mail for both the upcoming primary elections in the final few states and more so in the November general election, reaching voters sooner, where they live, shop, work, and play have become even more important. That same Facebook custom campaign ad aimed at one target demographic at the polling place may reach a next-door neighbor via text messages or while browsing websites on their desktop.  

The Changing Digital Landscape

How campaigns use digital platforms to reach voters changed markedly between the 2016 Presidential Election and the 2018 midterms. One could argue that the 2016 Presidential Election was won and lost not at your polling place but in your social media feed. Unprecedented micro-targeting of key voter groups gave one candidate the edge, now, four years later, voters are a bit savvier and have different expectations. Having an engaged group of volunteers promoting your campaign in person and online in chat groups and forums is not enough, though that helped sway voters during the 2018 midterms. 

Coronavirus has expedited the push to all things digital, working with a digital strategy and analytics group like Hudson Collective has become more mainstream for up and down-ticket races. A smart campaign would be investing in a strategy, data-driven analysis, repeated testing, and strategy fine-tuning. 

Meeting Voters Where They Are 

Imagine if you would, a first-time voter standing in line to vote who pulls out a smartphone to browse through Facebook might see a custom campaign ad aimed squarely at people at just that location.

Or the voter could receive a text message reminder with the name of a candidate in a down-ballot race for the County government, State Legislature, or US Congress when their car pulls into the parking lot of a designated polling location.

Micro-targeting messages to motivate voters has made a number of remarkable advancements since 2008. The days of voter outreach being limited to television sets, mail and robocalls changed due to new technologies. With even further advancement since 2016, campaigns are now using geofencing to deliver timely digital ads to people in specific areas like the grocery store, gas station, or polling place.

Campaigns use the location information to create profiles of voters who might share their political philosophies and public policy issues they care about like health care, education, and roads.

So how does geofencing work in the political area when the product is a candidate or cause? And how are results measured, tested, and analyzed? That’s where Hudson Collective’s expertise comes in.

What is Geofencing and One-on-One Digital Campaigns 

While many advertisers have been slow to adopt one-to-one digital campaign strategies, believing it to be too time-consuming and difficult to scale, Hudson Collective has embraced it. Technology has made one-to-one digital campaigning cost-efficient, even for campaigns that previously thought it beyond their reach. The advances made in the accessibility of offline data and combining it with precision geo-location data can extend your digital reach on a more personalized level and achieve more measurable results in one-to-one digital campaigning.

One of the key benefits of geofencing is that geofences can be drawn as small as the property boundaries of a school, library, or church used for a polling precinct. With geofenced digital advertising zones, Hudson Collective can start to showcase last-minute ads that are timely and incredibly relevant. Ads are being delivered in real-time when they’ll have the most impact. 

As more people have cut the cord and now stream their entertainment, or mute their TVs during highly partisan political advertising, campaigns have turned to different digital media to both identify and reach voters. What can be done online and with geotargeting is much more efficient than blanketing a neighborhood with fliers or yard signs. Even local races, which typically rely on postcards, mailers, and other forms of print mail advertisements are pairing those methods with newer technology like geofencing.

And if the March 2020 Presidential Primary Election was any indicator, marketers anticipate record break mail-in voting, especially in light of the coronavirus pandemic and uncertainty surrounding polling places located in schools and churches. The ability to reach voters in their homes during the absentee voting period has become as important as pinging them as they wait in line at a physical polling place. 

Geofencing technology has practical applications for marketing political campaigns, especially because millennials seem more inclined to receive text messages than answer a phone call. Once we have secured a device ID, it can be targeted for all sorts of ads at different times, suited to the mobile device owner’s interests and location.

About those robocalls, let’s leave them to the extended automobile warranty people. Most people have some version of robocall prevention installed on their mobile phones. And fewer people are answering their phones, making robocalls ineffective. 

Campaign of the Future

The fact is, future political campaigns will increasingly rely on geofencing for real-time intelligence about voters. It’s incredibly efficient and effective, especially when a campaign only has so much money to spend. Hudson Collective clients have access to new tools and new technology to make smarter decisions when measuring and managing the impact of voter outreach efforts and methods, allowing a broader range of services to meet their campaign objectives