In 2008, the Barack Obama campaign ushered in a new era of digital campaigning by leveraging Facebook and other social media platforms to gather information about voters and their interests to help hone the then-candidate’s marketing machine.
But at the time, integrating offline and online data was a challenge. And campaign workers had to manually combine online data with information workers gathered while canvassing, according to a recent article about the president’s use of data analysis in his re-election bid.
Four years later, both Obama and Mitt Romney are heavily vested – each campaign employs more than 100 mathematicians and data scientists – in using data analysis to target and persuade voters. The Obama campaign has now found a way to connect the online and offline data its workers amass.
“[They've] taken this sort of data-driven mentality and expanded it across the entire campaign,” Josh Hendler, the former director of technology at the Democratic National Committee, notes in the article. “Volunteers can see their personal statistics updated in real time – money raised, calls attempted, conversations held, one-on-one meetings convened. A scoreboard allows volunteers to see how they stack up against their peers. The campaign, in turn, can use this data to gauge which field offices are hitting their goals and which ones aren’t.”
“Like campaign strategists, chief marketing officers need to find, engage, and activate customers in a data-rich landscape,” note Dennis Spillecke and Rishi Bhandari, the authors of the article. “A proliferation of social platforms coupled with an emerging culture of sharing has generated not only massive amounts of user data but also a wide array of opportunities to make connections with customers.”
Here are Fast Company’s five steps to using data analysis to market like a presidential candidate:
1. Go micro. Obama and Romney are mining property tax records, charitable contributions and other data to find donors and create profiles of voter opinions. Businesses need to put this type of microtargeting in place to generate actionable analysis about potential customers from the data these consumers generate about themselves on social networks and other places. Both political camps have hired more than 100 mathematicians and data scientists to slice and dice the voting population.
2. Mobilize. Both camps are leveraging mobile applications for everything from taking donations to providing campaign event locations. Marketers can use mobile apps to reach customers as they shop in their brick and mortar stores and offer tailored promotions at that time.
“Analytics must lead to action that drives growth,” according to the Fast Company article. “One high tech company, for example, used advanced analytics to mine social media conversations, match them with customer databases, and funnel qualified leads to sales reps resulting in a 80 percent hit rate.”
3. Target your base. While the economy has drawn much of the attention from the candidates because it’s top of mind for voters, other topics like healthcare and issues that affect women and veterans have also resonated with voters. Marketers need to be sure that their messages are finely tuned for their target audiences.
4. Empower your base. The Obama campaign focused heavily on social networks in 2008 to allow supporters to spread messaging on behalf of the candidate via their own personal connections. Companies should provide tools that support brand evangelists in their efforts to promote products or services online as well as to network with other evangelists.
“Ford’s Fiesta campaign, for example, provided targeted influencers with a car, blogging tools, and a modest budget to share their experiences,” according to the article in Fast Company. “The program achieved 60% name plate recognition, and drove a telling stat: 83% of Fiesta buyers had never bought a Ford before.”
5. Spend wisely. The Democrats and Republicans will spend billions on marketing in this election, and each marketing investment is closely monitored for its associated return in the polls.
Marketers also need to ensure that they know exactly when their dollars are working for them so they reroute budgets from ineffective channels to those with bigger returns. Some companies, for instance, have generated much higher returns from abandoning the traditional advertising sweet spot of TV and investing instead in social media marketing.
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