Winning in Mobile: a Presidential Playbook

During the last election, just 35 percent of American adults owned a smartphone, according to Pew Research.

Over two-thirds (68%) own one today.

For about 10% of Americans, their smartphone is the only form of high-speed Internet they have access to at home.In the 2016 election, campaign successes, missteps and divisive issues are being played out upon our phones. Voters have faster and more frequent access to campaign and political news, and campaigns have better access to voters and their data.

Recently, The Guardian wrote about how the campaign of Republican caucus victor, Ted Cruz, used Facebook retargeting to reach potential Iowa voters. During the close race in Iowa, the Cruz campaign used a push notification to alert supporters that Ben Carson was pulling out of the race. Whether you like Cruz’s campaign tactics or not, the campaign team was able to immediately rally app users and seize advantage at a critical time through power of mobile engagement.

In 2016, we expect to see candidate apps using increasingly personal messaging to rally supporters. Ted Cruz and Ben Carson have official campaign apps and there a number of supporter-led apps for Bernie Sanders. We expect to see more campaign-led candidate apps as the election continues.

While the goals of reaching supporters, educating them on issues, and mobilizing constituents to action remain the same, big data and new mobile messaging tools will allow political campaigns richer access to detailed constituent behaviors, location, and real time responses.

Here’s how the candidates might use these tools:

Using Mobile Messaging to Reach Supporters

People who download your app are often your most engaged users. An effective candidate app would keep supporters in the know, while giving candidates an inherently personal connection (and rich targeting capabilities) with their supporters.

Candidates can leverage different tools to engage users: push notifications that light up their screen can be timed to align with political debates or key news stories. Content in a message center allows for campaign storytelling; whether it is b-roll footage from a local speech, testing a new ad or providing whitepaper content on a key issue. Interactive notifications allow for real-time response to content and 1:1 data collection.

We recommend planning ongoing mobile messaging across the election lifecycle — from welcoming a new supporter, onboarding them about key political issues, encouraging grassroots social sharing, to driving them to the polls on election night.

Convert and Persuade with Mobile Marketing Automation

The 2016 election will be won by big data targeting. To win people’s votes, you must be able to deliver the right message, to the right screen. Politics are personal — and mobile marketing automation and use of segmentation tools allow for relevant messaging based on wherever the supporter might be in their engagement with the candidate. Let your supporters opt in to receive location-based content, such as details about their local caucus and the public policy issues they care the most about.

Candidates can also use mobile behaviors cross channel and message mobile users based on data from their CRM. The attributes of these mobile supporters can be used to build look-alike audiences on Facebook. Facebook’s “custom audiences” even let campaign teams upload their own supporter databases and target ads directly to those people.

Mobilize to Action with Location

Our smartphones are always with us, always on. With mobile location services, campaigns can target app supporters to come to a local rally, or even encourage them to visit a polling place, if they haven’t yet been on election day.

With 80% of smartphone users multitasking while watching tv, interactive notifications sent during a debate can provide real time feedback to candidate teams. The built in sharing functionality of interactive notifications also allows constituents’ to be word of mouth ambassadors. A candidate’s message center can house mobile video content- a saving on mobile video ads!

We are looking forward to seeing how mobile messaging plays a part in the 2016 elections, and what real time targeting and messaging capabilities the candidates use. Watch this space after the winner is announced for our review of who won in mobile!