In politics, “digital” can mean lots of different things depending on who you talk to or what an organization’s objectives are. Confusion around expectations or a failure to clearly articulate responsibilities are often the culprits of a poorly executed digital campaign.
The confusion is understandable because there’s a lot that goes into building an effective campaign that leverages digital marketing. On a campaign, the digital director’s job is to ensure that everything the campaign does online is done as effectively as possible.
That encompasses a wide array of responsibilities and depending on the size and scope of a campaign could be the prerogative of an individual, a team, or contracted consultants and vendors.
Here’s a breakdown of all of the digital jobs to be done on an effective campaign.
Content Creation & Distribution
Creating and distributing content online is a key function for any campaign. Sometimes reduced simply to “social media,” this involves writing, designing, or filming digital content and ensuring it reaches the right audiences on various platforms, including email, web, and social media.
The distribution aspect is often overlooked and must always be closely paired with the creation. Understanding the platforms and how audiences discover content is foundational.
Audience growth can involve a combination of organic and paid efforts with the ultimate goal of reaching more of the right voters, volunteers, influencers, and donors your campaign needs to be effective. These audiences are on email, web, text, social media, and elsewhere. It’s critical for your campaign’s success to have growth strategies in place for each one.
Fundraising is typically what most campaigners think of when they say “digital” and it is a crucial function of every effective campaign. Most donors are giving online and campaigns rely on the support of donors to run. The greatest risk, however, is to over emphasize digital fundraising at the expense of other functions like building name ID, persuading voters, and turning out supporters.
Community Management (aka Digital “Field”)
Online life is real life. Just like a campaign assigns territories for field staff, they should ensure someone is responsible for engaging with online communities via website contact forms, campaign email inboxes, and social media.
As voters spend more time on digital platforms, especially connected TV (CTV) streaming services, campaigns are shifting advertising budgets to reach them where they are. Digital advertising is heavily driven by metrics and performance but effective creative is essential.
Campaigns collect and generate more data than ever before. Whether it’s voter contacts, volunteer signups, or donations, if this data isn’t accessible to your entire campaign because it’s siloed off you aren’t actually running a data-driven campaign. Integrating your data feeds through automations or manual processes is essential.
Voter Contact & Turnout
The winner of an election is the campaign that earns the most votes. Don’t overlook the fundamental goal of your campaign. Have a strategy in place for ensuring voters see key campaign messages online via social media, email, and text. If your digital campaign is only about fundraising, you’re missing out on valuable opportunities to win votes.
“Digital” is a nebulous term when it comes to campaigns and it means different things to different people – sometimes within the same organization. Clearly defining the responsibilities and articulating the goals of your digital campaign is a prerequisite for running an effective operation.