To successfully win an election today, a campaign needs a strategic online presence, mixed in with traditional marketing.
My company, Campaign Touch, has been helping companies and campaigns seamlessly integrate social media, search, online display and retargeting tactics into campaigns for years. Recently, we helped a variety of Canadian campaigns during the November 2011 election and witnessed an interesting change in advertising. We saw most campaigns advertise online and many starting to follow Corporate America by incorporating mobile, as well.
Clearly, the world has gone mad, right?
Wrong. Online and mobile are where constituents “are”. Successful messaging is about delivering your message to your targeted audience where they will receive that message and then act upon it.
I would like to share with you the results of a 5 week $20,000 online ad campaign that saw true success, in hopes that it can help paint a picture of what online advertising can do for your campaign in 2012.
First – the end result. By utilizing an integrated marketing campaign, the campaign won 81% of the vote in November, 2011.
The results matched the ultimate goal of the campaign, which was to deliver an overwhelming victory and election. The strategy was to concentrate on driving turnout by aligning a strong Get Out The Vote (GOTV) program as the issues and policies were being rolled out over the course of 5 weeks. Based on prior experience and research, we knew that success would come via reminding the targeted audience that (a) the candidate must be re-elected and then (b) by driving people to actually turn out and vote on Election Day.
Here is a snapshot of the results:
- 3.7 million impressions were delivered to people in targeted area, with an online strategy for the client that included a mixture of:
- Display Advertising (CPM and CPC)
- Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
- Website Retargeting
- Facebook Advertising
Another way to view this is that each impression cost a tiny fraction of what a newspaper, TV, radio or direct mail costs.
- Remarketing had an amazing 3.5% click through rate. Those who had visited the site came back over the final days as they were shown the GOTV ads.
- The general ads received a stunning .083% click through rate. Industry average typically ranges around .025% to 03%. This is nearly 300% better than most campaigns.
- Facebook was a perfect demonstration of reach. The campaign more than doubled their new fans and saw a click-thru-rate of .075%. We find the industry average to be .05%.
(Click-through rates on Facebook ads typically are lower than on Google/Yahoo/Bing, mainly because people often go to Google/Yahoo/Bing specifically looking to buy or research something. However, people generally go to Facebook to socialize so they’re not in a commercial frame of mind).
We answered many initial questions before beginning the online campaign; many of them about how to measure an online media buy. I usually answer this question with a question: “How does one measure the performance of billboard, print or TV advertising?” It’s impossible to click through a billboard ad, but that doesn’t mean it’s not effective. The same is true for TV ads. Only a fraction of the commercials you see on TV are so-called “direct response” ads, which include an 800 number or website for actually measuring the performance of the ad. The majority of traditional media ads don’t have a notable call to action.
Online display advertising works like most traditional advertising. You create awareness with it. You enhance your brand with it. You convince people to Get Out the Vote (GOTV) with it. If you’re not running ads online, your competition will.
Display Advertising (CPM)
Instead of purchasing site-specific inventory –and hoping constituents see it – we worked with the campaign to obtain a well-defined audience. We used three traditional ways of classifying prospects: demographics (age, gender, income), geography (city, state, region), and behavior (site visits, purchases, memberships). Combining all of these factors, we were able to tighten the focus of every ad buy, selecting inventory that the target audience would not only notice but take action on. In other words, we were able to reach the right people at the right time to take the right action.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Search Engine Marketing (SEM), also known as pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, augments the organic search engine listings achieved through Search Engine Optimization (SEO). A key reason search engine marketing works is because it positions your campaign in front of voters at the point when they’re making a decision. Search engine marketing generates traffic quickly and cost-effectively by reaching your target audience at the exact moment they’re looking for your information.
Retargeting – Attract Prospects Back To Your Site
98% of people leave your website before taking the action you want them to – donating, filling out a volunteer form. We worked with the client to help retarget those lost website visitors by delivering ads to supporters who had previously shown interest in the campaign. We were able to encourage supporters to donate or volunteer by retargeting display ads on sites across the web that supporters visited after they left the campaign’s website.
Does online advertising work? Yes. Advertisers are spending billions of dollars for online advertising because they know it is a part of a marketing strategy that works. They key word is: STRATEGY. The TV ads you see build on the foundation laid by a banner ad plus a billboard and a mention on Facebook. It all works together.
Is your overall message and marketing ready for 2012?
About the Author Cami Zimmer is President of Campaign Touch, a mobile and digital strategy agency providing consulting, mobile app/SMS development services and online media buys. Zimmer started her career at the White House, and has spent the last seven years as an entrepreneur, focusing on project development, sales/marketing, management and business development. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Read more from this author