With the US Presidential election only a week away, both candidates are opening up full throttle on their campaign efforts. These candidates have been out on the campaign trail for the last four years, and have shared their respective platforms on the issues at countless rallies/meetings/fundraisers. Millions have and are being spent on radio, television, internet, and print marketing to persuade America one way or another. If you have been watching the media coverage of this whole process, you may have noticed that the campaigns are really focusing on a few key “battleground states” and the “undecided voter”. It only makes sense that these campaigns focus their resources on those voters that will actually make a difference for them in the campaign. If each camp broadly applied their resources to all voters, they would be out of money quickly and end up with little to show for it on election day.

Campaign strategists use various tools to determine where these key voters are. One easy way is using the Electoral College voting system. This system tells anyone the exact number of votes a state has in the presidential election. By focusing on states that are not fully committed one way or the other, a candidate has the chance to win several votes. Polls can help indicate how a particular state is feeling. Once a state is identified, the next step is finding the undecided voter. Not all undecided voters identify themselves, however some do. Careful judgment is required to find the unidentified opportunities while determining what should be done for those who have come forward.

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As a marketer, undecided voters are sought after every day. These are people that have not yet committed to your product or brand. Unfortunately, there is no clear map of voters to help you zero in on opportunities and you most likely don’t have millions in donations to spend on getting your message out. There are tools at your disposal to help find efficient ways of marketing to these individuals. There are qualitative surveys, quantitative analytical data, and third party information from countless data aggregators out there. With all these tools, a marketer can sit down and identify starting points for optimizing the different messages and channels you currently have.

As part of Adobe’s digital marketing strategy, we recommend that clients start by looking at those areas where impact can be greatest or the “battleground state”. This audience may be those individuals in your checkout funnel, people who have signed up for your email list, or visitors to your landing page from PPC campaigns. To find where opportunity lies, turn to your analytics package. Areas with high traffic can be a good place to start. Another source can be your customer service department. They may be keeping tally of common questions on the twitter feed, or complaints from the call center and these can also indicate areas ripe for optimization.

With each of these starting points consider the cost to reach the audience as well. For a candidate, a TV ad costs much more than a YouTube campaign. Same goes for digital marketing. Spending resources to target extremely complex profiles may not make sense right now because the cost does not warrant a large enough opportunity.

After finding your “battleground state”, discover what the right message is. Too often, marketers dive straight into delivering a particular message to a very narrowly targeted audience. This is the equivalent to a presidential candidate advertising their stance on immigration to an undecided voter, when really the undecided voter wanted to hear about the economy. By assuming that the voter wanted to know about immigration policy, the candidate sacrifices an opportunity to really gain ground where it counts.

A better approach is to discover the right message and then push it out to that audience as quickly as possible. Use testing to identify that message and how different segments of your audience respond to it. Once you find a winning experience, push that optimized content out to deliver that right message to the right audience at the right time.

I’ve enjoyed watching this year’s election and different strategies taken by both parties. It has been fun to watch the different approaches they have taken in the digital space as well as traditional marketing. Best of luck with your own campaigning and don’t forget to vote!

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