Recently in Edmonton, a total of 119 candidates put their names on ballots for mayor, council or school trustee as the municipal elections got underway.  There are also elections going on in municipalities across Alberta this month. Each candidate has all of 4 weeks, to make their case, let their voice be heard, and encourage voters in their district to head to the polls and cast their votes.

We’re already starting to see the mess of candidacy signs with their simplistic two-toned color schemes lining the streets across the city, and I can’t help but wonder – “do these signs actually encourage votes?”.  I feel sort of like I’m at a dog kennel, with 20 dogs barking for my attention. How can a candidate stand out from all this noise? The answer is leveraging smart online advertising techniques.

A quick search on Facebook and the web shows me that most candidates have some sort of web and social media presence which is great, however very few and using web advertising to turn up the volume on their voice and messaging.  Winning an election is about getting your message to resonate with a majority of your audience, and then encouraging them to go vote. Here’s three powerful ways to use online advertising to help win an election:

Remarketing

If driving new eyes to your website and Facebook page is the main goal of your election campaign, you’re only covering half the battle.  Your job is two-fold, keep previous visitors interested and engaged in your message, while still encouraging new visitors to do the same. Furthermore, your job is to educate potential voters on the platform you’re running on, what makes you different, what changes you’re planning to implement, and how it will affect the community.

Remarketing is a simple way to track the visitors to your website or Facebook page via cookies.  When a visitor visits your page, they are tracked, and then for the next 30 days, you can drive targeted ads to them as the browse the web.

With some customization you can help reinforce your message without annoying the customer like some remarketing campaigns have been known to do. You can design ever-changing ad designs to educate rather an advertise. Come election day, your ads can change from an educational approach to a “Go Vote” message.  The best part? These ads are free to run, you can target them however you want geographically, and you only pay on clicks.

Facebook Ads

Facebook now offers candidates the perfect home for their campaign.  A platform to share their message, and the tools to help broaden awareness of their platform to the masses – this is called a Facebook Business Page.  Sadly, the ads we’re mostly seeing on the we, are generic “Vote for so & so for mayor on Sept 21” or something similar.  This isn’t an effective use of ad space or ad budgets.  Getting your message across is the key to an effective election platform, and a close secondary focus is name recognition.

We would recommend focusing ad budgets on paid post ads versus the standard right sidebar ads that limit you to 90 characters. Paid post ads show in News Feeds and allow for 200 characters of text, larger images and even longer descriptions.  Posting engaging content is also a much better way to go than your ‘blah blah blah’ type ads.  Standing out is your priority, so doing something different should be a priority.

Facebook Landing Pages

One of the most important, but often overlooked, elements of an advertising campaign is the landing page.  Great. you earned a click, but where are these clickers going? What will they see when they get there? I’ve yet to find a candidate (short of Obama) who utilizes a customized landing page effectively on Facebook. Landing pages can be customized in a variety of creative ways, from simple images to spread information, to data capture of e-mail addresses to contests and surveys.

I dare you to click on an election ad – $10 says it goes to their page wall 99% of the time.  This is an easy way to lose your audience with too much information.  The simplest and best solution is to hit home a smart and generic message, and get them to like your page, or submit their e-mail address.  This simple act will allow you to further connect with these individuals either for free through e-newsletters or Facebook updates, or via paid ad solutions that can re-target them and their friends.

Conclusion

There you have it, three incredibly simple ways to use digital advertising to strengthen your election campaign considerably without breaking the bank. Of course, we here at Strong Coffee Marketing are happy to help launch these campaigns, but as always our approach is to educate first! Good luck to all candidates in Alberta come election time.

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Post Written By:

Brian Siddle

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