By Sharon A.M. MacLean
It’s election time 2015. Politicians are going to the polls and candidates need to launch their campaign in record time.
Signs must be ordered, volunteers recruited, and constituent policies distilled to fit Party oratory for release to their respective publics. Funds need to be raised to carry out their best intentions.
Sadly, many candidates still are sending out individual emails to raise dollars, find influencers, talk to the media, and reach voters because they’ve not set up automatic systems. In business, we call it lead nurturing, and I will use the term here, as well.
Let’s back up a few months and pretend that candidates have an up-to-date email list of donor patrons and potential voters.
Lead nurturing is a digital marketing technique used to understand how and when a prospect prefers to make a decision. Automated lead nurturing saves everyone a pile of time.
For example, if it takes your prospects a few weeks to make a decision—either to financially support you or to vote in your favour—it’s a good idea to spread out your communications to keep them engaged throughout the decision cycle. Here’s five more tips.
- People support those they know and trust. The first time someone visits your website or sees your email, they probably don’t know you so well. Lead nurturing is an opportunity to show what you represent.
- Learn about your prospects. What challenges are they facing? What legislation are they interested in? By presenting different questions or types of content, and identifying who responds to what, you can qualify your leads and set yourself up for warmer conversations.
- Avoid the push style of messaging that emphasizes only your ideas. The best relationships are built face-to-face. However, in today’s world where people don’t always answer their phone, you can send a series of emails that outline your beliefs.
- Think video. Convert your text messages into short videos or podcasts and email them to people on your database. It’s more personal.
- Once you set up an automatic email system, the emails do the work for you by helping to move leads down the funnel faster.
How do you start?
Try starting with some general educational emails that outline your policies. For example, the messages could offer people links to more whitepapers, blogs, and videos that you genuinely believe will be helpful to the recipients’ needs.
MarketingSherpa found that segmented emails get 5 more clicks, so you should take any opportunity you have to segment your leads. This means you might want to space out your emails weekly or more frequently during the election crunch. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different times and see what resonates with your audience best. Here’s four more tips.
- While we generally encourage you to send educational emails, your mix of lead nurturing messages should also include some encouragement to vote.
- Try to avoid boring content. Make them highly targeted and create a clear connection between the content and the first emails you send.
- Did a voter click on a specific message on your website? Then perhaps, that person would be interested in taking a phone call or seeing you at the front door.
- Headlines are the most important element for your emails. You need to capture readers’ attention fast and pique their curiosity.
- Write a clear and direct subject line that will tell your recipients exactly what they’re going to get. Be as specific as possible.
- Write a title in a way that creates a sense of urgency or importance. You want people to feel enticed to read your email when they first see the title.
Time to get personal
What happens if a prospect opens your email? This is the time to connect with the candidate or team member.
That way, the prospect gets a more personal touch, has a chance to ask specific questions, and gets to talk to a real person rather than being part of an email group. It gives you a chance to offer extra attention and might be the moment a potential voter or donor becomes an actual voter.
Two more tips.
1. Include a photo of the candidate. Make sure your “reply-to” address is a real person, too. This lets people know that you care about hearing from them by allowing them to reply to a real person.
2. Keep a list of additional resources, influential bloggers, and white papers handy to send to your prospects. They might appreciate the content and check out the suggested resources you have curated for them. For instance, if someone watched your video about health care, you can follow up with a list of ideas about mental health options.
Social media supports your electoral brand
You may not confirm votes using social media but relevant platforms will support your direct messages using email. The two channels complement each other and help you stay top-of-mind within your constituency.
Social media is a great way to stay in touch with leads over time and keep them updated on your campaign—especially with photos and infographics to convey statistics.
Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ would be good platforms for an election. LinkedIn is more for business but would be a good place to engage conversations around the economy. Students aged 18 to 24 love Instagram. Post your videos on YouTube, as well.
If you have followed the suggestions and best practices above, you are on the right track to creating a stellar lead digital election campaign.
However, the most precise way of knowing how you are truly performing is to keep an eye on some key metrics. In order to improve the performance of your lead nurturing campaigns, you need to be engaged in ongoing measurement. Tracking your progress will allow you to see what is working and what isn’t. What is more, you will have a chance to optimize along the way and improve performance.
Pictured above: Premier Jim Prentice
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Life-long communications strategist Sharon MacLean owned and published a traditional print magazine over 21 years for business people. She now applies her enhanced knowledge in digital marketing to the needs of her clients and believes in the value of combining the best of both worlds.