No Guru Necessary: 5 Valuable Campaign Analytics

++ Okie EXCLUSIVE ++

by Ryan Cassin, Connect Strategic Communications

At this point, enough has been written decrying the GOP’s “technology gap” to fill volumes. Special RNC committees have convened to contemplate large-scale change within the party. And people, like me, who believe in the incredible power of online organizing have been engaged in fierce conversation about what the party must or must not do to be competitive.Cassin

Big changes are necessary in the way our party mobilizes voters and talks about its ideas, but our challenges cannot be overcome with another line of code or refined messaging. The biggest shift our campaigns need to make — from the state house to the White House — is embracing a culture of data and testing that characterizes the biggest Democratic victories of the 2012 cycle.

At the recent Google Political Innovation Summit in New York it was revealed that the Obama campaign hired 150 full time data and analytics staff. Folks who looked at the numbers, recognized patterns, and identified opportunities. At every fork in the road, they were called upon to help the campaign make an informed decision about almost anything: which swing state the president should visit, which TV ads delivered the most bang for the buck, and which potential voters needed just one more contact to become definite voters.

So much is changing: the diminishing effectiveness of TV advertising, the growing importance of mobile to reach voters, and a renewed emphasis on grassroots organizing to name a few. To adapt to the constant change, campaign leaders need a framework for making data-driven decisions and measuring results.

Here are five ways to introduce a more data-driven culture into your organization:

A/B Testing. Everything can be optimized, which means anything can be A/B tested. Your team should always be testing new ideas: Does one picture on the donate page generate more contributions than the other? How does changing the “Submit” button to say “Volunteer Today” impact the number of people who sign up? For campaigns with low traffic or small audiences, A/B tests can take time before a clear winner is found. Be patient! With low traffic, A/B testing becomes even more important so you can maximize every visit.

Website Analytics. Measure, week-to-week and month-to-month, the growth in traffic to your website, where that traffic is coming from, and which pages are being visited. Live analytics during a big event or Election Day show you where voters are seeking more information. Seeing a spike in traffic on a page discussing particular issue? Make sure it is up to date, robust, and includes clear calls-to-action for visitors to take the next step (sign up to receive emails, donate, connect on social media, etc.).

Email Analytics. From message to message, compare open rates, click-through rates, and who takes action. Combine with A/B testing to find the most effective subject line for a message. Use the results to segment your list and customize your messaging for donors, inactive supporters who need to be reengaged, and opinion leaders who forward your emails to others.

Advertising Analytics. Test every combination of message and graphics imaginable, then monitor the best performers. The results, coupled with your polling data, can illuminate effective ways to discuss issues. Of course, a message that sounds perfect in the campaign office but doesn’t generate clicks can mean a trip back to the drawing board.

Engage Daily. Voters may be exhausted by the constant campaign, but the constant conversation — a meaningful discussion of ideas — is always welcome. People passionate about issues are active on social media regardless of the political season, and feedback you receive from these supporters has a great deal of qualitative, if not quantitative, value.

Ryan Cassin is former Political Director for Senator Inhofe and founder of Connect Strategic Communications, a full-service Republican digital agency responsible for the online campaigns of Senator Deb Fischer, Governor Gary Herbert, and Congresswoman Kristi Noem.