Looking Ahead: What Will Digital Marketing Bring in 2016?
This month marks eight years since President Obama first won the Iowa caucuses. So much has changed, yet the fundamentals of political marketing remain the same. For all the talk of new platforms, campaigns have three primary business goals that we call the “Three M’s” – Message, Money, and Mobilization. Ultimately, successful marketing campaigns in 2016 will need to be measured on and optimized against these metrics, not just what gets the most publicity.
To that end, here are five priorities we are going to be focused on in 2016:
- Produce creative that people actually want to watch: Whether online or TV, we can no longer force messaging on people. They are tuning out in record numbers, either through DVR, muting, skipping, or simply looking away. We know this and can measure it. The only answer is better creative. But what does that mean? In consumer marketing, better creative often translates to strange or over-the-top concepts to draw the eye. This can work to a degree, but in the persuasion or brand context we win when we create content people actually want to watch or engage with. Whether our content is entertaining, interesting, or provides a tangible utility, we must judge our creative not only by whether it aligns with our strategy, but also by whether we would actually choose to watch it.
- Meet voters where they are – online or off: In addition to the obvious shifts online and to mobile, Americans are simply busier than they have ever been. As such, their media usage is more fragmented and in shorter spurts across devices and channels. Our media mix must shift proportionally. We must meet people with advertising where they actually spend their time. Whether it be Roku, Xbox, or the NYTimes app, we must reach people where they are today by being as channel agnostic as possible.
- Make sure to measure the right things: The digital world is full of things to measure – clicks, shares, retweets, views, and everything in between. Yes, digital campaigns are often more metrics driven, but we must be careful to not just use the metrics that are easiest to measure. Moreover, most of these metrics are built for the consumer world where engagement is often sufficient. But in our business we must differentiate between engagement and persuasion – two distinct outcomes. With tools like Vantage and others, we strive to always ensure we are actually moving the needle on the right metrics.
- Integrate, integrate, integrate: How many campaigns have we seen that reflect our own organizational charts? Voters cross many channels throughout the day, but they are the same people! Yet, the digital, television, mail, radio, field, etc. strategies often have little in common. But in 2016 we can and must go further. Not only should messaging and targets be coordinated, but they should actually be dynamically integrated. Someone who tells us at the door that they care about an issue should clearly receive more information on that topic, and none of our channels should waste any resources on people that are never going to vote. This is increasingly possible once we start to treat people like individuals, not targets.
- Never stop experimenting: At the pace things are changing, there is no perfect formula. Rather, we must continually push ourselves to test new ideas, new platforms, and new forms of measurement. Primaries in races across the country will be critical for this as they present a rare volume of opportunities to clearly determine what motivates people to turn out and vote.