With less than two weeks until Election Day, your last mailer should be finalized, your TV ads running, and your digital program should be about to start transitioning to GOTV messaging.
But what do you do with the last $5-$10,000 you either stashed away in case of a brutal oppo attack or those last-minute dollars from the donor you’ve been chasing all cycle?
The only answer is clear: digital.
This late in the game, it’s hard to scoop up more quality air time and unless your direct mail team is comprised of nimble gymnasts, it’s also unlikely you’ll get another bite at the direct mail apple.
If you’re working with a digital firm, they’ll be able to fold in your extra $5-10,000 into their strategy before you can say “what extra budget?” But if you don’t, and you’re a small, scrappy team, here are three ways to spend those last few dollars before Election Day:
1. Text your voters.
At this point in the cycle, you can bet that most high-quality digital inventory (much like TV inventory) has been spoken for. What’s left are mediocre placements that will cost multiple times more than what they did four months ago.
Instead, reach for your phone. In 2016, campaigns saw the rise in effectiveness of SMS (aka short message service aka the text message). For $5-$10,000, text-message companies like Resistance Labs can dispatch 20,000-40,000 individual text messages to voters on behalf of your campaign or organization. Last-minute texts can boost turnout by as much as 1-2 percent, or even persuade independents to get on board, Yoni Landau, CEO of Resistance Labs, told me.
The best part of putting your money where people’s phones are? Because there’s no “inventory” to fight for, you’ll be able to have personal, one-on-one conversations with voters at the same rate as you would in January.
2. Remarket on social.
If you want to go the social media route — and are prepared to pay through the nose — remarket, remarket, remarket.
Instead of trying to find, target, and persuade a new audience members at the end of the campaign, use Custom Audiences to remarket to folks who have visited your website or engaged with your page and ads.
Brian Young, digital director at ProgressNow Colorado, notes that campaigns need to remind those who already support them that their vote isn’t enough. In fact, they need to get the support of their friends, family and loved ones, too. Remarketing can be an effective way to do some last-minute relational organizing.
3. Get creative.
Finally, if you want to put that extra funding toward some creative and unconventional digital media look toward platforms like Snapchat to get your message out.
With Snapchat, your goal should be to get your campaign in front of as many eyes as possible. Expect your audience to skew younger, and plan to have fun with it. It generally takes less than 24 hours to design, upload, and get approval to run a geo-targeted Snapchat filter that has the potential to reach millions. Last year at SF and LA Pride, a geo-targeted Snapchat filter reached nearly 1 million users for less than $1,500.
If you’re running a candidate campaign, Snapchat will help your candidate be front-of-mind for young voters on or before Election Day.
And if you’re an issue-based organization or non-profit, a strategically placed, geo-targeted filter will engage folks interested in your issue area while reminding them how important it is to vote. For example, if you’re an environmental protection organization, placing a Snapchat filter around State or local parks that encourage voters to “Vote YES” to protect our public lands, will engage those who you know already appreciate the value of our parks.
As we count down to Election Day, literally every day and every dollar matters. But if you have a few extra dollars, leverage them to strategically reach voters, re-engage folks who already support your campaign or cause, and get creative in how you outreach to voters with shared values.
Cheryl Hori is the founder of Pacific Campaign House, a progressive digital campaign firm.