Obama's '08 Campaign: Using Data to Win

  |  December 4, 2009   |  Comments

Looking ahead to an SES Chicago keynote by Dan Siroker, who led the analytics team for Barack Obama's presidential campaign.

Next week I'll be traveling to Chicago to join hundreds of fellow marketers at Search Engine Strategies Chicago, where I'll be doing a couple of sessions. There are many new and interesting sessions. I'm looking forward to attending the keynote by Dan Siroker, who led the analytics team for Barack Obama's presidential campaign and is a former Google employee as well. The title of his presentation is, "How We Used Data to Win the Presidential Election."

I've read about it, so I'm pretty sure Dan will discuss how the Obama campaign tracked the success of every e-mail, text message, and Web site visit, capitalizing on the analytics available and how they optimized each one.

In fact, in Edelman PR agency's report, "The Social Pulpit: Barack Obama's Social Media Toolkit," they reported that:

Each ad and e-mail was created in multiple versions (e.g., different headers, buttons vs. links, video vs. audio vs. plain text) to test what worked and what did not. The campaign developed more than 7,000 customized e-mails, tailored to individual prospects, and made real-time improvements to its outreach materials. Adjustments were made daily to improve performance and conversion. It worked. As the campaign progressed, the effectiveness of the e-mail campaign increased and conversion rates similarly improved.

Think about all the processes required to execute on that, what kind of manpower it takes, what types of resources were necessary. There are many businesses that can learn from the campaign in terms of converting visitors to buyers (donors), creating engaged and empowered brand advocates, and effective use of e-mail, text messaging, and online video, etc.

One of my favorite examples is the optimization of the e-mail sign up page. On this page, they experimented with the media/message or benefits of signing up and the button to sign up.

They tried four variations of the button:

  1. Sign Up

  2. Learn More

  3. Join Us Now

  4. Sign Up Now

Which do you think performed the best?

They tried six variations of the message (where the words "Get Involved" with the picture of Barack Obama is now). Three of these messages were static words and images and three were with videos.

  1. The original, "Get Involved," you see above.

  2. A family image with the words "Change We Can Believe In."

  3. A picture of Barack Obama alone with the words "Change We Can Believe In."

  4. A video clip of Barack Obama.

    Download the clip here

  5. A video clip of an appearance in Springfield.

    Download the clip here

  6. A video clip the team called Sam's video.

    Download the clip here

Which media/message do you think was most effective at converting visitors to sign up for the newsletter? Most people do not guess the correct one, even if they are the boss, and that is why you need to let the data help you make decisions.

I won't spoil Dan's presentation by providing you with the results this time, but I will share them with you next time. In the mean time, if you have any questions for Dan or me, send them to me and I'll make sure I get a chance to ask him.

I hope you can join us in Chicago at Search Engine Strategies, and if you are there, please be sure to reach out to me and don't miss the fabulous SES Pre Game Meetup planned for Sunday night before the conference.

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Bryan Eisenberg

Bryan Eisenberg is co-founder and chief marketing officer (CMO) of IdealSpot. He is co-author of the Wall Street Journal, Amazon, BusinessWeek, and New York Times best-selling books Call to Action, Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?, and Always Be Testing, and Buyer Legends. Bryan is a keynote speaker and has keynoted conferences globally such as Gultaggen, Shop.org, Direct Marketing Association, MarketingSherpa, Econsultancy, Webcom, the Canadian Marketing Association, and others for the past 10 years. Bryan was named a winner of the Marketing Edge's Rising Stars Awards, recognized by eConsultancy members as one of the top 10 User Experience Gurus, selected as one of the inaugural iMedia Top 25 Marketers, and has been recognized as most influential in PPC, Social Selling, OmniChannel Retail. Bryan serves as an advisory board member of several venture capital backed companies such as Sightly, UserTesting, Monetate, ChatID, Nomi, and BazaarVoice. He works with his co-author and brother Jeffrey Eisenberg. You can find them at BryanEisenberg.com.

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