What can be named one of the most talked about, dramatic, and polarizing US Presidential Elections, 2016 has also been one of the most informative in multiple ways. Though we as Canadians could not exercise our right to vote in this election, it has been a hot topic of conversation throughout the whole country, and even around the world. Regardless of whose side you were on and which result you wanted, no one can deny that both parties followed a strict campaign throughout the election. Something that not a lot of people realize, however, is the campaigns in which presidential candidates such as Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton present follow the same processes that we as companies use in our own marketing tactics, especially in the digital space.
Businesses are not the only ones that have had to adapt to the technological shift that we have experienced, but candidates have too. Just like you market a product or service in the attempts to get the most conversions, candidates must also do this, only their conversions aren’t a click or a sale, they are a vote. So how exactly did both Hillary and Donald optimize on Digital Marketing tactics to run such successful campaigns? Let’s dive in.
Let’s start with the most obvious; social media. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, you will be influenced by social media in some way. Whether it be seeing a hashtag on an ad, seeing someone snapchatting on the sidewalk, or even scrolling through Facebook yourself; it is everywhere. The US Presidential Candidates used this societal obsession to their advantage. Through dedicating posts to certain elements of their platform, or sharing pictures of them interacting with citizens, they communicated with voters on a more intimate level and marketed themselves through a medium that we are all using on an everyday basis. For instance, below you can see how Hillary is using Twitter to learn about voters’ opinions on a topic that was very dear to her overall platform in the campaign. Not only is she reaching out to her followers, but she is also trying to engage them by having them comment back and take the initiative to join in on the conversation.
Here is another image depicting the social media following of each candidate. Now this of course is not the only determining factor of a successful campaign strategy, but one can notice that the candidate that does have the largest social media following is now named the President of the United States.
Though social media is extremely important today, it is not the only digital marketing tactic that these candidates used in their campaigns. The various tactics that went into each political campaign that we also use as businesses are as follows; segmentation, split testing, engagement optimization.
When marketing a product or service, segmentation is crucial. Segmentation allows you to understand how to go about speaking to your consumers or potential clients to push them further along the sales cycle. Whether that means turn cold traffic into a lead, turn a lead into a buyer, or turn a buyer into a repeat buyer, it is essential to understand that each conversation must be personalized to where that customer is in the sales cycle. For instance, you wouldn’t present a buyer with the same offer that you would present to a cold traffic potential consumer. This is exactly how the candidates also went about conversing with multiple people around the world. The largest, and most obvious, segmentation between voters would be whether they are Republican or Democrat. That is simple. When Hillary, for instance, goes to a Press Conference where many individuals were Democrats, she would not have the same speech prepared if they were Republican. It isn’t just as simple as this, however. There are multiple people, with multiple values and points of view, within each party. For example, one voter may favour Hillary because of her women’s rights activism, whereas another may favour Hillary because of her emphasis on student debt. Each individual voter has their own reason to be in favour of a certain party, and each of them must be addressed differently. This of course is difficult as an electoral candidate since many opportunities to address voters are in public atmospheres where these individuals unite. This is where, as mentioned above, social media can play a big role in speaking to each individual need, or pain point in business terms. By taking the time to personalize each conversation, you are allowing each consumer, or voter, to feel as if their business, or their vote, matters.
Just like in business, it is hard to get your marketing and advertising strategy perfect on the first try. Reaching out digitally is a great, yet inexpensive, way to speak to voters, or consumers, and get their feedback on your messaging or product base. The rule of thumb in all businesses is that you must give the customer something of value, and something that they desire. What better way is there to ensure that you are delivering on that promise besides asking them for their opinion? Just like in business, presidential candidates took the time to present various ads to their voters and analyze the results and reactions. Once an ad is released, the candidates could realize whether it was effective based off audience response and made the required adjustments. Through presenting your ads digitally, it allows you to receive this feedback quickly and perfect the messaging quickly as well. Split testing is a tool that helped both Trump and Clinton speak to their voters how they wanted to be spoken to, whether that be through an ad, a press conference, or even an email. If they can do it, you can too!
Once your audience is segmented, and your messaging is perfected, it is now time to engage each consumer. You can talk to people all you want, but if they are not responding then you are in a one-sided relationship that will not help you reach your conversion goals. Just like a business, both Trump and Clinton realized that they can not just prepare a speech and talk at America, but talk with them. It of course is a difficult task to talk to every individual in America based on geographical and time limitations. Through the digital world, however, these boundaries cease to exist. Through examples such as the Tweet shown above, Trump and Clinton could engage voters digitally and this helped to optimize on conversions (votes). Donald Trump’s engagement on Twitter was so robust, that scientists studied his style to see why he was so interesting to voters and why they were so engaged. Just like these candidates took the time to have voters engage with them, you can also engage your consumers. Through the tools listed previously you will be able to amp up the conversation with each potential buyer and help to move them along the sales cycle and get you closer to reaching your goals!
As the quote, “candidates are people too,” does say, it is in fact true. Only we will change it to, “candidates are marketers too.” Whether you are marketing a product, a service, or yourself, every detail must be considered and all the tactics used to your advantage. After all, the main goal is to get people to like and engage with you or your brand, and that is exactly what the presidential candidates focus on when campaigning. Who knew we could learn so much from the most powerful people in the world?