Effectively Utilizing Digital Marketing Tools to Get Out the Vote
For candidates, encouraging constituents to go out and vote on election day is as important as any other element of the campaign. In fact, because a campaign’s Get Out the Vote (GOTV) endeavors can spell the difference between victory and defeat, it can and should be considered as the most important component of the campaign.
According to the United States Election Project, voter turnout was the highest in 2018 when 49.3 percent of eligible voters turned out at the polls for the midyear election, surpassing 1914 when voter turnout was 50.4 percent. In comparison, voter turnout in 2014 was 36.7 percent, which was the lowest in 72 years.
While door-to-door canvassing remains the most consistently effective tool for mobilizing voters, social networks are also considered to be powerful tools for exerting strong social pressure for voters to participate in the election. Especially in these days when people are practicing social distancing, it seems that digital campaigning is the way to go.
The Power of Digital Campaigning
A strong digital presence is a must in political campaigns. President Donald Trump proved this when he triumphed in the 2016 election, and continues to do so, if his consistent popularity with his supporters is any indication.
Build a Simple, Responsive Website
A candidate’s web presence is first established through a website. From here, they will be able to share their platform, provide up-to-date information on their campaign, and begin to engage with their potential voters. The website must be responsive so that it is easily viewed from any mobile device as well as computers. More than flashy design, make sure that the website is easy to navigate so that there will be no guesswork on the visitor’s part.
Studies show that when people make a plan to vote, they’re more likely to follow through with voting. Giving your potential voters the tools that they need to plan their election day activities will make it easier for them to go out and vote. Your website can encourage constituents by providing them with a polling station finder. Some websites also include a page where the individuals can make a pledge to vote, which when they accomplish will provide them with reminders, via email or SMS, as election day draws near.
Leverage the Power of Social Media
Social media gives candidates a direct line to voters and this not only provides them with ample opportunity to get their message across, it also enables them to try and persuade people to get out and vote. Candidates can utilize social media in their voter mobilization efforts by:
- Pushing reminders to your target audience that people in their network will be voting in the coming election. – This is a form of social pressure which is a proven effective tactic at increasing the likelihood of a person also going out to vote. One way this can be done is through creating Get Out the Vote ads or posts that your target audience will see as they scroll through their feed.
- Encouraging voters with images they can use on social media. – These images can say “Make a Difference!”, “Your Vote Matters!”, or “Your Vote is Your Voice”. Make sure that the images are the correct size depending on the social media platforms that your target audience uses. This technique has the added bonus of increasing social pressure – when a voter posts your GOTV image on their profile, this lets other people on their network know that they plan to vote, thereby increasing pressure on others to do the same.
- Sending targeted messages to your audience. – Your key audience for your GOTV campaign would be people who are likely to vote for you, but who have not always voted in past elections. Persuading people to exercise their right to vote isn’t always easy, but you can reach out to them with targeted messages—talk to them about the issues that are important to them and why it matters that their voice is heard.
- Helping voters create a plan to vote. – As with your website, posting a list of voting locations on social media can be helpful for encouraging people to go out and vote. Alternately, you can share a link to your social media profiles of the polling station finder, or invite them to sign up for election reminders, on your website.
- Make use of videos. – Video is a powerful tool that makes it easy to interact with voters. For this reason, it should be utilized for spreading awareness of the importance of voting on election day, whether it’s through live video or pre-recorded ones. Make sure to engage with your audience and add a strong call to action.
Harness Data with Targeted Online Advertising
Online ads are a practical, easy way to expand your reach. These days, candidates can utilize valuable data beyond voter demographics, which can include their political affiliation, propensity to vote, and number of times they have voted in the past. These pieces of data, coupled with IP targeting, will allow political hopefuls to send targeted online advertising to encourage eligible voters to participate in the coming election.
Take Advantage of Email Marketing
Political candidates and their teams usually have access to mailing lists, and they should take advantage by regularly sending targeted email newsletters especially as election day draws near. It is important to remind voters about your campaign message and encourage them to go out and vote. Getting as personal as you can through this channel may be beneficial, such as asking voters to let you know if they need transportation to get the polling station and giving them a way to contact your team. This will also help you prepare and finalize logistics for Election Day.
Your digital marketing Get Out the Vote campaign is typically meant to boost your on-the-ground efforts. The above are only a few methods that candidates can implement to make the most of technology to increase voter turnout.
More importantly, these tools are only secondary to the messages that you should be sharing: That democracy only works when people’s voices are heard. That every vote counts.