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Great Marketing Whether Or Not You Agree With The Message/Messenger

June 11, 2012

Whether or not you agree with his leadership and policies,  a tip-of-the-hat to our President’s internet marketing of late is definitely in order.  All New Market Entrepreneurs -even those operating on lean budgets- can learn a lot by carefully observing the Obama Campaign’s marketing as we move toward November.

Recently, if you are a regular reader of the New York Times online, you know what I am talking about…  the dual display ads at top and on the right with a simple and compelling messages… beckoning you to click if you are so disposed.  If you are a fan/supporter, who wouldn’t wish our President a happy Father’s Day or respond to an invitation to have dinner with him?!

Simple messages.  Compelling images.  Clear calls to action.  All are the hallmark of strong web advertising.   Now, coupled with the marketing data machine we recently tweeted about, (story found here)… make no mistake, these ads are showing up with intentionality.  And we bet they are getting huge results.

CHICAGO — On the sixth floor of a sleek office building here, more than 150 techies are quietly peeling back the layers of your life. They know what you read and where you shop, what kind of work you do and who you count as friends. They also know who your mother voted for in the last election.

The depth and breadth of the Obama campaign’s 2012 digital operation — from data mining to online organizing — reaches so far beyond anything politics has ever seen, experts maintain, that it could impact the outcome of a close presidential election. It makes the president’s much-heralded 2008 social media juggernaut — which raised half billion dollars and revolutionized politics — look like cavemen with stone tablets.

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Banners like the ones above lead to simple, clear landing pages like the two below designed for only one thing… engagement.

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While I’m no political analyst, it would seem that  capturing email address and zip code is all that’s necessary for now when you consider the fact that the results for the next presidential election will be determined in the swing/battleground states.   The objective:  raise money and spend it in the battleground states… at least that’s what would seem logical.

Hence the simple elegance of capturing an email and a zip… if you’re a fan, why wouldn’t you?   I’m betting the yield factors of form completions as function of landing page visits are through the roof!  From the same piece:

The data also allows the campaign to micro-target a range of dollar solicitations online depending on the recipient. In 2008, the campaign was the first to maximize online giving — raising hundreds of millions of dollars from small donors. This time, they are constantly experimenting and testing to expand the donor base.

For example, they have found $3 to be a magic number: Asking supporters for that paltry donation to win a chance to attend a fundraiser with the president and George Clooney or Sarah Jessica Parker, has generated tens of thousands of responses — people from whom the campaign can collect highly valuable data and then go back to.

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Here are some additional feats of amazement from the campaign’s marketing tactics that should wow New Market Entrepreneurs:

• Created a holistic, totally in-house digital operation that is the largest department at campaign headquarters. In 2008, much of the social media and video was generated organically from supporters. As one campaign official put it, “digital is no longer a part of the campaign. It is the campaign.”

• Hired a number of nonpolitical tech innovators, software engineers and statisticians. “It has been incredibly freeing, because all election campaigns are a slave to history, and the history here is just nonexistent,” says Obama campaign manager Jim Messina. “So, we’ve been able to kind of reinvent it.”

• Invested mightily in cutting-edge technology that scales the website to fit the screen of any device. With nearly half of the U.S. population using smart phones, “responsive design” allows a user to give money and volunteer without bifocals. “More than 40 percent of all our donors are new, and a lot of them are coming in because of things like this,” says Messina. “Call up our website and try to donate on your phone and then do Romney’s. … Those things are important, because people are busy and people want to help us and they think about — ‘Oh, yeah, I saw the president on TV. I want to give them money. How hard is it?’ ”

• Developed a more complex symbiosis between the campaign and Facebook, which is 10 times bigger than it was four years go, and has far more personal information available to mine. “Facebook was just a site to see friends four year ago now it is part of people’s DNA,” notes a senior campaign adviser. Obama invites supporters to log on to the campaign through their Facebook accounts, which gives the campaign one more avenue for data.

• Opened the first all-volunteer. all-digital office in San Francisco where knowledgeable techies drop in for a few hours and strive to develop new software for the campaign under the supervision of paid staff.

• Staffed a full-time digital director in each of about a dozen battleground states to effectively run mini-general election campaigns in those states.

•“Last time, we had two campaigns,” Messina said. “We had the on-the-ground, door-knocking, person-to-person campaign, and then we had the digital campaign. But most of the digital campaign was really organized by [supporters] — by themselves.”  This time, says Messina, it’s the campaign that’s driving and controlling most digital content. “The goal is to burst through the wall of those two things.”

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When it comes to technical/social/marketing firepower, it is clear the Obama campaign has Romney down for the count.  Consider these facts:

  • Twitter was just gaining steam in 2008 when campaign used the platform largely to notify followers about events. The campaign had 118, 000 followers at election time and about 2.4 million Facebook followers.
  • Today, Obama has 16 million Twitter followers to Romney’s 500,000, and Michelle Obama has nearly 1 million to Ann Romney’s 45,000. On Facebook, Obama has nearly 27 million followers to Romney’s 1.8 million. (It’s hard to know how many of either man’s followers are non-American.)

Putting our own political dispositions aside, from a pure marketing perspective it will be very interesting to see how this clear advantage plays out for Obama’s re-election.  We will all be watching, and hopefully, those of us that can, voting (especially in the swing states)!

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