With Election Day closing in, those campaigns that still have some funds are looking for ways to spend it. Now, yard signs don't vote, and email doesn't either. In the latter case, research shows it’s not an effective medium for turning people out to the polls.
So what does work? Here’s how to spend a last-minute cash influx online to woo likely voters for your candidate, or remind your supporters to get out and vote.
Go where the voters are (search).
In the last few days of the election, this is when voters are most likely to be doing research to figure out how they want to vote. This means you’ll want to be easily found on search engines. If somebody living in your district googles your candidate’s name, or “election”, “voting” et cetera, will they see your message?
It’s probably too late at this time to do much in the way of search engine optimization on your website, but as long as you have more than a day’s notice it’s never too late for online advertising. A simple, cheap and affordable Google search campaign can help. Geotarget it just to the district to keep costs low and make your funds go farther.
If you have the funds, you can go wider to reach your potential voters as they surf the web.
Consider expanding your campaign out beyond search to include the Google content network and other display networks. You can target specific news and information sites, put your campaign videos on YouTube, or use retargeting to “haunt” people after they visit your website, wherever they go next (remind them to go vote for your candidate or point to a polling place locator).
Consider voter-file targeted display ads.
This way you are targeting specific voters rather than delivering your message to people on both sides of the divide. You’ll need a fairly large budget and timeline to pull this off though. Match your voter list to Facebook specifically here, or you can use self-serve tools like this one, if you’re not working with a digital consulting firm already.
You can also do effective affordable outreach with Facebook and Twitter self-serve advertising.
This can work for targeting people in your district who already like you/follow you, or people in your district who are of the right party and so on. Set cookies on your website and then keep talking to those people via Facebook, Twitter, and Google display advertising reminding them to GO VOTE and FIND THEIR POLLING PLACE.
Think about running a campaign geofencing around the polling place itself.
On Election Day itself, this is great for if there’s a long line on and people are surfing on their phones in boredom (very likely).
But make sure to set end dates on all ad campaigns. You don’t want the meter to keep running past Election Day — the campaign could face a horrific bill.
Laura Packard (@lpackard) is a partner at PowerThru Consulting, a Democratic digital strategy and web development firm.