Obama's Innovations Online and Your Campaign

by The Campaign Workshop

Obama Innovations

Online Advertising Testing

Over the last two Presidential election cycles, the Obama campaign has done some really innovative work online. There has been a lot of discussion in the progressive community about how other campaigns and organizations can take some of these tactics and apply them to their own causes. While it’s true that not all campaigns will have access to the same resources – budget, consultants, in-house staff – that the Obama campaign did, there are still some great lessons that can be applied to your campaign, regardless of size. One of the biggest takeaways from the campaign that can easily be applied to campaigns and organizations of all sizes is testing. The Obama campaign took testing to another level and tested everything from emails to online ads.

On the email side, they tested everything from the subject lines to the content of a fundraising appeal. Granted, the Obama campaign had a huge email list to use for testing. Many campaigns will not have a huge list to break into 10+ segments for testing, but even with a small list, testing is possible. Regardless of the size of your email list, you can split it in half to do an A/B test. Or try taking 20% of your list and testing something like a graphic or subject line. Then roll out the winner to the remaining 80% of the list.

For online ads, the Obama campaign tested various images and headlines to see which ads worked best. Their ads had various calls to action – from fundraising appeals to urging people to find their polling places. Each test helped ensure that as many people as possible were not only seeing the ads, but also clicking on them, and taking further action.

Make sure you build in testing whenever you’re planning an online campaign. With emails, it may just be a matter of sending a test version out the day before you launch to your full list. With online ads, it may mean adding an additional week to your online buy so you can test first. Testing can be a key factor in a successful online campaign.