Best Practices By Campaign Guru Ravi Singh CEO of electionmall.comwhere everyday is a campaign
Content Campaign Guru Best Practices GETTING STARTED PREPARING YOUR WEBSITE RAISING MONEY ONLINE E-MAIL COMMUNICATION DON’T FORGET
YOUR ONLINE CAMPAIGN PLANTO RAISE FUNDS, AWARENESS, AND VOTESJust launching a website is not a complete strategy to reach voters in your district. A candidate’s vision,message, and experience must be communicated in every aspect. Utilizing the best practices below,campaigns can maximize their ability online to raise money and build a stronger support base.
Getting StartedKnow Your Goals – Before your e-mail launch, set clear goals and communicate those goals to yourcampaign staff. Know how many voters you need to contact to reach your monetary and election-daygoals, and how many times you will touch each person to gain a donation and a vote. Describe those youwant to contact and what action you want them to take.Keep Counting – Elections are won by counting votes. You can steer your campaign in the rightdirection in the same way. Count everything. Install counters on your site. Measure your results. Countreplies. Track your progress. Refining your campaign strategy is how you stay close to voters. Know whatis working for your campaign and what needs to be changed. Not all campaigns are alike. Using a cookiecutter strategy will most likely backfire on you.Invest in Infrastructure –- Defining infrastructure at the beginning of your campaign increases yourability to win. Make sure you have a bulk e-mail provider to communicate with those who haven’t heardfrom you before, and a permission-based system to manage on-going correspondence with yoursupporters. Understand the technology available to you and design an infrastructure strategy that fitsyour campaign. Learn your vendor’s capabilities, and use them.Know Your Audience – Use what resources you already have to gather basic demographicinformation. Start with your fundraising database. Also, gather as much voter data and contactinformation for your regional area as possible, using regional party lists, or voter registration information.By including a brief pop-up poll, or a more extended survey, you can collect more information to identifywhat the key issues are and what voters will get behind. Create separate lists to target voters based on keyissues or expected financial contribution.a variety of candidates since 2000.Singh, described as the “campaign guru, in a USA Today® article, has spoken this past year promoting ”eDemocracy at international speaking engagements at the European Union Parliament in Belgium, aUnited Nations Conference in Guadalajara, Mexico, the Public A-airs Association of Canada in Toronto,and the Personal Democracy Forum in New York and Madrid, plus numerous academic speeches atuniversities abroad. During these presentations Singh has encouraged world leaders to use social medianetworking sites and establish dialogues with their grassroots supporters. In 2008 Singh was named a“Rising Star” by Campaigns and Elections Magazine®. One of the most prestigious honors in politics.The “Rising Star” award goes to people 35 or under who have already made a signicant mark in politicalconsulting or advocacy. In 2004, USA Weekend Magazine® named Ravi Singh as one of the “five newpowerbrokers whose sites and bytes may well influence how you cast your ballot come November. ”Singh, the first-born son of U.S. immigrant parents, began his political journey at age 14 when the USArmed Forces forbid him to wear his turban in a USA Military Academy.
Preparing yourwebsiteMake Your Website Interactive — If you are a dynamic candidate, your websiteshould not be static. Combining some infrastructure into your communicationsstrategy cuts down on man hours. Add two forms to your site: an online poll and afeedback form. Polls will help you track the interest level of your site and givepeople a reason to return to view the results. The feedback form communicates thatyou’re interested in “hearing” not just in “telling” or “getting. Your feedback form , ”should also allow voters to sign up to receive more information about yourcampaign, to increase future involvement.Gather Voter Information – Expand your base: your website should automaticallycollect E-mails and Mobile Numbers of those visiting your site; use a “contact”form, and a poll that requires them to enterbasic information to participate. Voter data usually costs money; don’t waste anopportunity to capitalize on website traffic. Make sure to add these new supportersto the appropriate e-mail list.Use Imagery – Websites have become more and more important to both candidatesand voters alike. People give to people. Giving support to a candidate is emotionalas well as rational. Before you talk about donations, make sure you have faces onyour website. Add fixed-sized photos of people to easily change out every 3-6weeks. Make them small and colorful representing a variety of faces. Also, makesure your photo galleries, videos, and recent news section are updated as eventsoccur on the campaign trail.E-mail all of your supporters to view your site launch – Even more important, askyour contacts to tell or email someone else about the site and encourage thatperson to visit. Get your supporters excited about educating their friends abouttheir options on Election Day. Be sure the new site is complete and fully interactivebefore launch. (You can’t publicize another site launch just because you’ve redonethe presentation.)
Raising MoneyOnlineOffer an Online Donation System – This is an essential campaign behavior. Youmust make donating easy. If people have to call or mail in a check, your campaignmay never see that donation. Whether with a credit card online, a check in themail or by purchasing a ticket to an event, donors should be able to contributeexactly the way they want. Make sure your system is compliant with campaignfinance laws. If you don’t have the resources to build your own secure onlinegiving option, there are a couple of excellent packages you can purchase ataffordable prices that you can just drop into your website.Make Your Contribution Page Easy to Find – Don’t try the patience of your poten-tial donor. Create a recognizable button or link making the donations optionaccessible on every website page. Place it in the upper right area of your website.Also, link directly to your donation page at least twice in each e-mail. Simplify andbe clear about what you are asking on the donations button/link (e.g., Donate,Join, Membership, Contribute). When asking for money, you must be bold anddirect; people respect honesty.Remind Your Donor Why He’s Giving – On the giving page, offer one reason whypeople should contribute in one sentence or slogan. Keep it personal. It is notabout what an organization needs but what people need. The more pressing theneed, the better your chance is to raise money. (“Help now to raise $2,000 so thatI can communicate my health care plan on Cable TV”). Donors like to feel in con-trol of what their money is being used for. E-mail communication is an opportu-nity to build a relationship and to create an online advocate that will do more foryour campaign than just give a check.Help Donors Decide How Much to Give – Now that you have their attention, pro-vide pre-set money amounts from which to choose. Don’t lose them here bymaking them come up with dollar amounts. Allow people to press their button ofchoice to select a donation of $25 - $100 - $500 - $2000 or whatever the range isfor your campaign. Offer a monthly subscription option that will allow a supporterto give a smaller amount on a monthly basis to make it more affordable.
EmailCommunicationNever, Never, Ever Spam – You are not selling insurance or a dating service;respect your voters by taking your e-mails seriously. Online fundraising is aboutcreating, building and strengthening relationships; not sending messages indis-criminately just to send them. Sending e-mails in an improper or inconsideratefashion can actually isolate you from your voters by teaching them that youre-mailsaren’t worth reading. Focus each e-mail around a specific subject that applies toyour voters; don’t send multi-topic e-mails. Time each message to target the rightvoter at the right time; targeting arrival time of key e-mails keeps voter interest.Plan and Manage Frequency – Lay out a delivery schedule for your e-mails andstick to it. Only in the last weeks of a campaign or during a controversy shouldyou send more than one or two emails per month to supporters. Many e-mailprograms offer the ability to schedule out your entire e-mail campaign months inadvance. Be aware of when to remind voters about Absentee ballots, Early voting,and Election Day.Offer Opt-In/Opt-Out Opportunities – Make it easy, even for your supporters, tosubscribe and unsubscribe from your lists. Make sure that your vendor supportsthis capability and will track those who unsubscribe. If voters feel it is their choiceto hear from you, they will be more likely to feel a responsibility to read youre-mails. Supporters will stay with you in thick or thin if you offer them choices,listen to them and meet their needs.Make it Attractive and Readable for Everyone – HTML email makes your messagevisually attractive and appealing, puts a face to your name, and can incorporatebranding and imagery that matches your website and materials. But rememberthat some of your demographic may be using older email programs. Alwaysembed a plain text version that can be read by all voters.Personalize – Emails are about building relationships. Make sure that therecipient’s name appears on the first line of the message: “Dear Marc:” This is thebeauty of technology and why web-based tools lend themselves to an interactionwith democracy. Barack Obama’s e-mails include the recipient’s name in the sub-ject line of every e-mail, such as “How Matt can help Barack reach todays goals.”
Don´tForgetUse Earned Media – If you are doing an event with lots of PR, make sure themedia knows the need, the urgency, and the opportunity to give online. This isVERY important and will help bring in new donors. It is similar to making surethat your volunteer staff are wearing campaign indentification such as candidatet-shirts and buttons. Don’t miss this opportunity.Drive Traffic to your Site – Use online advertising such as google and yahoo keyad words to help voters find what they’re looking for. Make sure that when voterssearch for issues that are important to them, your name, or topics regarding yourlocal community, that your targeted ads appear. Use this to build awareness,name ID, and attract volunteers and donations. Make sure to track the metrics onwhat ads and issue campaigns generate the best results.Dont expect immediate results – It takes 6-12 months of effort to get donors andweb visitor prospects comfortable with online giving. Invest your potential votersin your campaign story, and show them by your communication that you taketheir representation seriously. This is a relationship-building process and illus-trates how a campaign begins from the ground up. Don’t stop building your baseand asking for more support!Don’t forget other forms of communication – Methods such as Direct Mail, OnlineAdvertising, and Robo Phone calls also remind people to get out and vote, oreven to donate funds.An example “Get out the Vote” robo phone call script:Hello, this is [first and last name of candidate], calling to remind you that earlyvoting starts tomorrow. Whether you vote now or on [election date], make sure toresearch your choices beforehand. I am the only candidate for [office] that haslived in this community for over two decades, and who understands [hot localissues] the need for local educational reform and the importance of preservingour green space with zoning controls. We have seen three terms of inaction with[opponent name]. Help me move [community name] forward, by casting yourballot for [candidate name] this election. Thank you, and have a good night.
Say Thank You! Whenever you receive a gift online, create a human connection. Follow up every gift witha thank you email. Some systems will generate this automatically. Every online giver should also receivea personal phone call as simple as "Just to say thanks." Keep your campaign personal. Saying thanksmeans you not only value the gift but the giver. Remember, even your “Thank You” should include detailson continued needs for financial support. Make sure to keep track of donors’ giving history.