Insights From An Experienced Campaign Strategist: 5 Crucial Tools for Political Candidate Websites
In twenty years of campaigning for political candidates, one thing remains true regardless of whether the candidate is running for President or School Board: Campaigns aren’t won on election day. Instead, campaigns are won during the early months of operations planning.
These days, a significant component of any campaign plan involves digital media. Of course, a lot of campaigns get it right because they commit to getting it right. That means investing, learning, and trusting the process.
But most campaigns don’t get digital media right, and I’m always surprised by how many candidates run without real investment in digital outreach tools and programs, even in 2023. Here’s why:
Professional marketers say you have to meet your customer where they are, not where you think they should be. Political candidates…are you listening??
You have to be realistic.
Think about it. Even if you jammed your campaign schedule with every event under the sun, you still can’t meet every voter in your database. Even if you commit to knocking on every door, you’ll still miss most of your voters. Meeting everyone is just not humanly possible, even in small districts. That’s where digital media comes into play and starts with a website.
For first-time candidates, it is crucial to avoid common pitfalls and leverage the right tools on their political candidate websites. In this blog post, I will share insights gained through years of campaign experience to help you make the most of your online platform. Discover the five crucial tools every political candidate website should possess, empowering you to run a successful digital campaign.
User-Centric Website Design:
The best and most effective website is one the candidate is proud of but is wholly designed for the voter. In marketing, we call this user experience.
On the technical side, you’ll want to prioritize a clean, intuitive interface that ensures seamless navigation across devices. Next, optimize load times because visitors have no patience for slow-loading pages. Finally, conduct user testing to identify usability issues and make necessary improvements. By prioritizing user experience, you’ll maximize engagement, encourage longer visit durations, and convert visitors into dedicated supporters.
On the content side, you’ll want to develop a strategic plan for effectively conveying your campaign’s message. Avoid the trap of bombarding visitors with excessive information that over-explains. Instead, craft concise and compelling content that captures attention, highlights your unique selling points, and addresses voters’ concerns.
Pro-tip: Utilize storytelling techniques to create an emotional connection with voter segments. Focus on quality rather than quantity, ensuring all content aligns with your campaign’s core messaging.
What pages should your political website feature? At VOTEGTR, we start with the fundamentals:
- Home page – Here’s where you establish your campaign brand and core message
- Volunteer Page – This page needs to inbound contact info with low viscosity quickly
- Donate Page – This page must quickly accept contributions in compliance with State and federal laws. More on this below.
I’ve seen many websites roll these three functions into one URL effectively.
But for candidates running for legislative or executive office where positions on issues are something voters take to the internet to research, then we recommend issue pages.
Additionally, as your campaign builds momentum and earns media, your team can post articles to keep your campaign supporters and the press up to speed on the latest developments.
Integrated Fundraising Tools:
Effective fundraising is essential for any campaign’s success. Therefore, your website should seamlessly integrate fundraising tools that make it easy for supporters to contribute.
At VOTEGTR, our donation forms load quickly and offer multiple payment options, including one-time donations, recurring contributions, and customized donation amounts. In addition, our forms motivate giving using urgency, social proof, and compelling calls to action. And once the donor is ready to hit the donate button, the payment is processed quickly and securely. Each of these attributes is a must.
Of course, all that sounds easy if the donor is already on your site. However, getting them there is half the battle.
Campaigns need to use social media, email, and sms/text to communicate how donations will support your campaign’s goals. Use themes that convey urgency and make every attempt to personalize the call to action. Look for opportunities to incorporate compelling visuals and personal stories to inspire individuals to contribute.
Robust Data Analytics:
Data is a campaign strategist’s best friend, but making the most of data analytics can only be possible for campaigns with dedicated expertise.
Proper data analytics can start with asking basic questions.
- Are more people visiting our site every week?
- Are people taking time to read the content, or are they quickly bouncing?
- Which issue pages are people spending the most time on?
- Are users finding our volunteer and donation forms easy to use, or need clarification?
By objectively examining your site statistics, you can learn where to refine your campaign strategy, which content to optimize, and where to tailor messaging to responsive voter segments. And stay committed to the process: analyze campaign performance, identify trends, and make data-driven decisions weekly or biweekly. By harnessing the power of data, you can enhance your targeting efforts and amplify the impact of your digital campaign.
Active Social Media Integration:
But what about Social media?
Yes, in today’s digital landscape, social media can be a game-changer for political campaigns of any size in any jurisdiction. But candidates will only benefit if their social media outreach is easy to find on the networks the voters are on.
Remember, you must meet the voters where they are, not where you want them to be. Gone are the days of spending all your social media time on Facebook. Now candidates need to engage and compel voters who spend their social media time on Instagram, LinkedIN, TikTok, and other smaller but no less essential networks.
Start by prominently displaying social media icons on your website for easy access. Next, actively maintain and update your social media profiles, sharing compelling content and interacting with followers. Finally, leverage social media advertising to reach wider audiences and amplify your campaign message. Encourage supporters to share your content, thus expanding your campaign’s reach organically.
You can differentiate yourself from the competition by avoiding common pitfalls and harnessing the right tools on your political campaign’s website. But getting all this right is tricky.
At VOTEGTR, our team is happy to help get you started and on the way toward raising money in days, not weeks. Our voter-centric site templates, strategic content development, integrated fundraising tools, robust data analytics, and active social media integration can greatly benefit candidates running for office, regardless of how large or small.
Regardless of which digital strategist you use, embracing these essential tools allows you to run a digitally savvy campaign that captivates audiences, mobilizes supporters, and propels you toward electoral success. Best of luck on your campaign journey!