Using Digital to Win Votes

The challenge of elections

Digital marketing is becoming more important than ever in modern elections as it allows political campaigns to precisely target key voters without wasting resources. The nature of the political system in the UK means that a relatively small amount of the population has a voice that counts. In certain “swing seats” across the country voters have a greater influence in the national result due to the tight election races taking place. For instance, the smallest parliamentary majority in the 2015 election was 27 votes in the seat of Gower. This means that just 14 voters switching their party allegiance would have yielded a different result.

Political parties in the UK fiercely contest these “swing seats” in their bids to win parliamentary majorities, deploying their full resources to win these competitive races.

How can you win votes?

When it comes down to it, the challenge of winning an election is quite straightforward. You must convince the right people living in the areas that matter to vote for you. Here are 5 steps to beat out the competition and win votes:

  1. Define your target audience – As “swing seats” are specific areas of voters across the country, strict location targeting is crucial when creating ad campaigns on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. Targeting a defined location ensures that only users in that constituency would see the ads. Additional targeting such as ages 18+ can then be overlaid to ensure that you are only reaching those eligible to vote. Depending on your messaging you may then want to overlay further targeting information. For instance, if you want to promote your policy on pensions you may want to target those who are retired or close to retiring. This can also be enhanced by the use of third party or CRM data.
  2. Deliver the right ads  Ad imagery and messaging needs to be engaging to capture user attention. A political party can have the best policies, but if the ad campaign is poorly thought out or is not engaging, people won’t pay attention. Ads on YouTube; and video and Canvas ads on Facebook are among the most engaging formats. From our experience, trying to track user intention can be difficult. Consider a call-to-action such as “sign up to support us,” which will help to give an indicator to how people are responding to the campaign.
  3. Retarget, retarget, retarget – Differentiating ad messaging to voters based on their previous online behaviour is incredibly effective. Let’s take these three video ad interaction as an example: an individual who has watched the entirety of the video, someone who initially skipped the ad, and another who has only watched the first few seconds. These interations tell us a bit about how engaged the user is with the content. Creating audiences based on these interaction achieves a greater level of granularity, allowing us to target users with personal messaging. You should also exclude users who have committed to your campaign, this is done by suppressing a CRM audience, or excluding users who have clicked through a “sign up” link.
  4. Remind people to vote – You can’t win an election if people don’t vote for you! When election week rolls around, retarget those who have shown support and remind them to get out and vote.
  5. Win

Using digital in this way could have a decisive impact on the outcome of an election.