There’s been a lot of talk about what the Obama and McCain cam­paigns are doing in both paid and organic search opti­miza­tion, but not as much on what they do with that traf­fic once vis­i­tors land on the site. Cam­paign sites pose a unique chal­lenge because they have mul­ti­ple goals for vis­i­tors who land from dif­fer­ent sources with a wide range of intentions.

One Site, Many Goals

These are the 3 major objec­tives I think a cam­paign site has to accomplish:

1) inform
2) per­suade
3) solicit

The prob­lem is that not all vis­i­tors progress through each stage, nor do they fol­low them in any par­tic­u­lar order. It’s a bit of a chicken and the egg…and, uh, the cow prob­lem. Luck­ily, it’s also the per­fect sce­nario to bring your acqui­si­tion mar­keters and site mar­keters together. Your acqui­si­tion chan­nels can help seg­ment your vis­i­tors by goal and com­mu­ni­cate that back to the site. More on that later through real exam­ples from the Obama and McCain campaigns…

Time = Voters

What I find inter­est­ing about polit­i­cal cam­paigns is the urgency that dri­ves exe­cu­tion at a much faster pace than most com­pa­nies out there can accom­plish today. I sus­pect that the mar­ket­ing team behind each can­di­date ranks near the top for agility and speed because there sim­ply is no other option. The pri­mary prob­lem is not whether there has been enough bud­get and head­count allo­cated for 2009, it’s about who bid on the right key­words rep­re­sent­ing the issues vot­ers are search­ing for today and who can react fastest to the lat­est event to hit the headlines.

As we’ve all seen over the last few months, adver­tis­ing is one of the major vehi­cles dri­ving a campaign’s mes­sag­ing and brand­ing. It shows us which top­ics can­di­dates are focus­ing on and which chan­nels they are spend­ing the most money on. What’s some­times missed, though, is what that adver­tis­ing then tells them about us. There are few adver­tise­ments that don’t ask you to do some­thing in return, whether it’s donat­ing on a web­site or join­ing a mail­ing list. Below is a com­par­i­son of each campaign’s ad on the same day in the same loca­tion, along with the cor­re­spond­ing land­ing page.

The McCain campaign’s ad on Drudge Report:

Ad’s Land­ing Page:

Obama Campaign’s Ad on Drudge Report:

Ad’s Land­ing Page:

You’ll notice that there is a wid­get avail­able to input infor­ma­tion about your income so that you can cal­cu­late how much you could poten­tially save under the Obama/Biden tax plan.

Con­nect the Off­site and Onsite Experience

Could these two expe­ri­ences be any more dif­fer­ent? McCain’s ad is a straight­for­ward call-to-action to donate. It focuses sin­gu­larly on the “solicit” goal. How­ever, there are key ele­ments of that ad that are lost once the vis­i­tor lands on the site. For exam­ple, what does it mean to “Invest in Vic­tory”? Should we at least see that head­line rein­forced on the land­ing page, if not elab­o­rated on with how indi­vid­ual con­tri­bu­tions can help?

It’s also inter­est­ing to note that the call-to-action specif­i­cally uses $50 as the amount to con­tribute, but it is nei­ther high­lighted nor pre-selected once the form to donate is pre­sented. I would imag­ine that some mar­ket analy­sis led to the empha­sis of $50 in the ad, so why not con­tinue that through the expe­ri­ence by mak­ing the process to donate $50 just a lit­tle bit simpler.

In con­trast, Obama’s ad is tar­get­ing vot­ers based on the issue of taxes. It takes the approach of focus­ing on the “inform” and “per­suade” goals. You’ll see that the land­ing page cal­cu­la­tor asks for anony­mous infor­ma­tion and then returns an esti­mate of sav­ings. Here’s what the page looks like after fill­ing out the calculator:

Note that the cal­cu­la­tor has changed into a form that now asks for my infor­ma­tion to keep in touch. We’re now mov­ing into the next stage of solicitation.

Engage the Visitor

From a design, flow, and rel­e­vancy per­spec­tive, I think this ad to land­ing page expe­ri­ence is very well-executed. Beyond that though, I think it’s also a clever way to get a lot of infor­ma­tion about your vis­i­tors in a way that is not explicit. Let’s take a closer look at what we learn as the vis­i­tor pro­gresses through the ad and land­ing page.

After the vis­i­tor clicks on the ad:
We can infer that this vis­i­tor is inter­ested in learn­ing more about taxes and sav­ing money.

After the vis­i­tor fills out the cal­cu­la­tor:
At a min­i­mum, we know the visitor’s annual income and fil­ing sta­tus. On top of that, we may know how many depen­dents they have, whether they are over 65, if they have child care expenses, if they are sav­ing for retire­ment, the out­stand­ing bal­ance of their mort­gage, and if they have col­lege expenses. That is A LOT of infor­ma­tion when you look at it from a pro­file tar­get­ing and seg­men­ta­tion per­spec­tive. Imag­ine how much more rel­e­vant and engag­ing you can make this visitor’s expe­ri­ence across mul­ti­ple chan­nels includ­ing dis­play, email, and site by hav­ing this type of data.

After the vis­i­tor fills out the “Stay Informed” form:
We now have the visitor’s email address and zip code to tie all the infor­ma­tion together in the database.

To recap, here’s the wealth of infor­ma­tion that the Obama cam­paign has in their data­base now after a vis­i­tor clicks one ad and fills out two short forms:

  • email address
  • zip code
  • issue inter­est
  • income bracket
  • fil­ing status
  • age*
  • # of dependents*
  • mort­gage balance*
  • sav­ing for retirement*

*optional field

Would you send a dif­fer­ent email to the voter in a swing state mak­ing $40,000 a year vs. the voter in New York mak­ing $300,000 a year?

These Prin­ci­ples Apply to More Than Politics

The strate­gies employed here are not unique to pol­i­tics. They might just require a shift in how you approach your busi­ness and define the goals of your acqui­si­tion mar­ket­ing efforts.

For exam­ple, let’s say you’re a retailer that sells HDTVs. Instead of an ad pro­mot­ing a spe­cific model, maybe you show an ad that pro­vides infor­ma­tion on how to select the right HDTV for you. The land­ing page then asks the vis­i­tor about their bud­get, pre­ferred size, and other rel­e­vant para­me­ters. Maybe that then leads them to per­son­al­ized search results, or you dis­play another short form that enables them to receive alerts when an HDTV goes on sale within their budget.

Think about how you can make each touch point with your vis­i­tor more rel­e­vant and engag­ing so you can draw them through a cohe­sive expe­ri­ence that both leads them to the water and increases your bot­tom line. In other words, ask not what your vis­i­tor can do for you, but what you can do for your vis­i­tor. And don’t for­get to vote!


Hi, I have created one main and 3 territory level reporting suites in Omniture. All the 3 territories data is going to main reporting suite also. But I found that the Average time spent of main reporting suite is more than the 3 territory reporting suites. How can it be possible?


All Voters need to read this article A.S.A.P. We, the voters, get overwhelmed with political campaigns, and after while, just can't stand to hear any more. We need more articles like yours to keep our mind sharp and full of knowledge. After reading this article I'm excited to seek out more information about the election and use "These Principles Apply to More Than Politics" as listed above. Thank You! Holly