Political Digital Fact of the Day: Target Voters to Increase Engagement and Persuasion

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The difference between spam and viral content comes down to a simple difference: do you care about it?

One powerful way to help make sure your audience cares is to make sure you are using the advanced tools online that help you target voters based on their interests.

Almost all digital media can now be targeted just like direct mail.

You can work with a list vendor or get data directly from your local elections official—and you can then “match” that data through a number of vendors so that you serve your online ads only to the voters you select.

Our online product, SpeakEasy Political, allows you to make numerous voter “selects” from our built-in voter data and matching partnerships. Or you can upload your own lists, such as your supporter or Get Out the Vote Lists, to match and target.

Say you will need to do particularly well with a certain segment of voters to win. Build that “select” and create messages and ads that speak specifically to them.

SpeakEasy Voter Data

For example, if you are a Democrat from West Middletown running against a Republican from East Middletown – and you do better with women and he does better with men – you might create a select that looks like this:

West Middletown Democratic and Independent female voters who voted in two of the last four elections.

Perhaps you have found that education is a key issue to these West Middletown Democratic women who are likely to vote. Then by all means serve them an ad on education.

And if you have the Mayor of West Middletown endorsing you, think about targeting that endorsement just to West Middletown, where it will probably have the most impact.

If you are running in an off-year election and the turnout is going to be 40%, it probably doesn’t make a lot of sense to target voters who have never cast a ballot.

If you are running in a Democratic primary, it makes no sense to target Republican voters if they can’t cast a ballot in your primary. So if Republicans won’t vote for you, don’t waste money targeting them. It might actually backfire in channels like Facebook—where all you could be doing is attracting trolls to make negative comments.

If you are a Latino candidate and you suspect that Latinos lean your way, you can target Latinos for special attention. If you are a Millennial candidate and young voters are your base, you can add an age “select” to your targets.

You get the point—you can slice and dice the internet audience just the same way you can using direct mail. If the information is on your voter file, you can target that audience on almost every available channel.

Correctly identifying your target voters is one of the key ways you elevate your political campaign from potential spam to vital information.

PRO TIP 1: The better you target, the better your engagement rate will be and the more persuasive your ads will become. Remember that for every position there are voters who agree with you and voters who disagree with you. Ads can actually backfire—if the electorate is split 50/50 on an issue, you might come out behind because people who disagree with you tend to remember that disagreement more than people who remember agreement. That’s why political pros pay so much attention to targeting.

PRO TIP 2: Targeting does not mean parsing on an issue—it is both unethical and unwise to take contradictory positions on an issue. You will be found out. But there is nothing wrong with taking about Medicare to seniors and Early Childhood Education to young parents.

Learn more on how to build a digital strategy for your campaign in the recently released e-book, 12 Must-Know Facts About Digital Media, by SpeakEasy Political founders Eric Jaye and Danielle Winterhalter.


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