In the final few weeks before Election Day, it’s common for campaigns to experience an influx of resources – especially if donors or influencers view the race as competitive. When it comes to online fundraising, as much as 70% of your total dollars raised arrive in the final 45 days of the campaign.
With TV budgets fully funded, no time to turnaround new mail, and few unhired campaign staff available, options for spending this surplus are limited. This is the time when digital campaigning typically gets a second look by decision makers – even if they were previously skeptical. The advantage of course is that money can be allocated and deployed quickly with digital marketing.
At Best Practice Digital, we have a bias towards building audiences for the long term rather than renting them, but at this stage in the campaign, the focus necessarily shifts to interrupting voters you haven’t been able to reach.
Here’s a rundown of the options you have for spending any last minute budget on digital campaigning.
Avoid Investments That Won’t Pay Off By Election Day
At this stage, competitive campaigns must shift their focus to activation and turnout.* Audience building investments, like growing your email list or opted-in text messaging list, aren’t going to produce sufficient results by Election Day. In our experience, it takes about 45 days, on average, for a new email subscriber to become a donor.
You must prioritize spending to channels that net results within days or hours. Focus spending on activities that have a clear tie to earning votes. More turnout, less persuasion.
Ensure Search Coverage
In addition to your organic SEO efforts, route additional budget to paid search advertising. Many voters turn to Google in the hours or minutes before they complete their mail-in ballots or go to a polling place.
They signal their intentions through searches like “how to vote” or a specific candidate’s name (which they see on their ballot). Your campaign’s first priority should be to have coverage for all searches of the candidate’s name. Next, target searches related to voting keywords. Your objective is to make you candidate’s name become familiar in the moments before a vote is cast.
After Google Search ads, allocate money for peer to peer (P2P) texting to drive turnout. Include a link in each text with information about how or where to vote. Extensive research has been conducted to demonstrate the effectiveness of P2P texting on GOTV.
There’s no minimum spend with P2P texting so you can scale the program up based on additional resources. Critically, compared with major online ad platforms, there’s better one-to-one targeting, no restrictions on message, and no blackout periods.
Awareness & Persuasion Digital Advertising
If you’ve still got money to spend after covering the first two components, allocate your budget to digital advertising focused on building name ID (especially for down-ballot candidates) and highlighting relevant campaign issues.
Voters have been following the presidential election for months, but may be unfamiliar with other candidates on the ballot. Simply recognizing a name on the ballot between two options may be enough for a voter to support your candidate. With new restrictions from Facebook, identify other advertising options that will allow last-minute buys.
Digital Earned Media Plays
Finally, one of the best ways to cut through the noise of the final weeks of an election is to use a unique digital tactic in an effort to earn media. For example, during the 2016 Florida presidential primary, Marco Rubio’s campaign promoted “Vote Early Day” with Snapchat filters at hundreds of early voting locations across the state.
Local media are eager to report on stories that feature new technology or social media platforms. Again, the goal is to get a few seconds of attention from voters and build familiarity before they send in their ballot or head to the polls.
Even if you haven’t gotten the word yet that more money is on the way, savvy digital campaigners will be prepared with a list of ideas. That way, when the time comes, you can spring into action.
*Safe campaigns should run through the tape and keep building.