Ready? Set? GOTV digital planning

Ready? Set? GOTV digital planning

You’re almost there! The days of living on coffee and handfuls of candy and too much drama are almost over. When Election Day or Lobbying Day or the day your bill comes up for a vote in the legislature is fast approaching, what do you need to plan for over the last few days digitally-speaking to make your mark?

Assuming you have worked backwards in developing a calendar from the Big Day, then you’ve already sent out emails and texts etc. to recruit the volunteers you need on the day itself. You’ve already planned and sent reminder messages to those volunteers to make sure everybody knows the plan, where and when they need to be.

“Get Out The Vote” is an important evidence-based read on what really works and what doesn’t for turning people out to vote on Election Day. For example, mass emails generally don’t work. However, plan-making – asking people where, how and when they’ll vote and chatting with them until they develop a plan – is very effective. Groups have tried to use this technique digitally by working it into a GOTV email, but the research is out on whether that’s any more effective than nothing. Texting has been found to be more effective for GOTV, and peer-to-peer texting programs are the best of all. Look at tools like Hustle, which let your volunteers mass text voters to remind them to vote.

Go where the people are (search).
In the last few days of the election, this is when voters are most likely to be doing research to figure out how they want to vote. This means you’ll want to be easily found on search engines. If somebody living in your district googles your candidate’s name, or “election”, “voting” etc., will they see your message? It’s probably too late at this time to do much in the way of search engine optimization on your website, but as long as you have more than a day’s notice it’s never too late for online advertising. A simple, cheap and affordable Google search campaign can help. Geotarget it just to the district to keep costs low and make your funds go farther.

If your issue is heating up in the legislature, expect that many more people will be googling it and perhaps trying to find their representative to make contact. This is a great opportunity for a Google ad campaign directed to a landing page with your talking points and a “look up your legislator” function.

If you have the funds, you can go wider to reach your potential voters as they surf the web: expanding your campaign out beyond search to include the Google content network and other display networks.
You can target specific news and information sites, put your campaign videos on YouTube, or use retargeting to “haunt” people after they visit your website, wherever they go next (remind them to go vote for your candidate, point to a polling place locator etc.).

If you’re lobbying legislators, consider doing some advertising targeted to their staff. You can pull off a campaign that looks much larger than it is, by being very focused on the location you’re targeting and/or the people you’re targeting to.

You can also look at doing voter-file targeted display ads. This way you are targeting specific voters rather than delivering your message to people on both sides of the divide. You’ll need a fairly large budget and timeline to pull this off though. Match your voter list to Facebook directly, or you can use self-serve tools like (for Democrats only) if you’re not working with a digital consulting firm already.

If you are doing legislative work, you could use digital advertising to target voters in district of legislators on the fence, and use those ads to drive emails (good) and calls (better).

You can also do effective affordable outreach with Facebook and Twitter self-serve advertising. Targeting people in your district who already like you/follow you, or people in your district who are of the right party etc. Set cookies on your website and then keep talking to those people via Facebook and Twitter & Google display advertising, reminding them to GO VOTE and FIND THEIR POLLING PLACE.

This is also an effective tactic for non-profits – you can use paid social media matched to your email list to reinforce your Advocacy Day message and drive even more calls and messages to legislators.

On Election Day itself, consider running an ad campaign geofenced around the polling place itself, great for if there’s a long line on Election Day and people are surfing on their phones in boredom!

A geofenced ad around where the legislature is in session is another way to look much larger than you are, as a non-profit.

Plan out and automate your digital efforts ahead of the big day as much as possible.
Keep in mind that on Election Day or Lobbying Day itself, you and your fellow staff and volunteers are likely to be full of adrenaline and also sleep-deprived – this does not make for conscientious work. You may want to write and automate as much content in advance. Be sure to have somebody else eyeball all content whenever possible, if you’re running around putting out fires and attempting to draft content for a mass audience.

Make sure to set end dates on all ad campaigns. You don’t want the meter to keep running past your big day, the campaign could face a horrific bill.

Consider live streaming to social media from the victory party that night or from the advocacy day itself. Let people be a part of your day, whether or not they can be there in person.

Be prepared to report back, win or lose. Yes, it absolutely sucks to lose. But you owe it to your supporters to deliver a personal message after the fact, via email and social media. Let them know what you plan to do next. (Also FYI many consider it bad luck to only write a victory speech. It couldn’t hurt to keep this in mind – write a victory email and a concession email ahead of time if you must.)

It’s much better when you get to report a win. But don’t forget to report that back too! You can’t assume people will already have the news another way.

Have more questions about a last-minute GOTV online ad campaign? Contact PowerThru and we can help.

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