Thought Leadership

Why Political Candidates Should Start Thinking Like Content Marketers

Andrew Stark

MediaPost
February 17, 2016

Campaigns today can look a lot like modern businesses, leveraging the latest technology and data to increase their efficiency and ROI. As political decision-making has moved from smoke-filled backrooms to social media and cable news, politicians, like businesses, need to think strategically about their brand perception and how they can best move people through their funnel.

Big data has enabled campaigns to act like modern marketers, identifying patterns and targeting ads programmatically.

In the midst of content marketing’s meteoric growth, the marketer’s tool belt continues to expand. Recently, political campaigns won on the margins by leveraging big data and programmatic display advertising.

Tomorrow’s political success stories will tell of candidates who are able to engage the right audience in meaningful ways with the right message at scale, while constantly optimizing their efforts.

This is exactly where the maturation of content marketing technologies and strategies comes into play. To move the needle, it’s not enough just to produce content, candidates need to learn how to think like content marketers.

Content marketing is about building trust through engagement.

Content marketing allows advertisers to build trust with their target audience by engaging with them on a deeper level. That often takes the form of entertainment or useful information, but it can include anything that a brand or politician wants their audience to consume, in order to give that audience a certain picture of who they are.

This is second nature to politicians. 

They spend their lives trying to convey that they get us, and will do right by us. But that’s for naught — unless it reaches the right people and actually has a chance to accomplish its goal.

All marketers know that creating something authentic and emotionally resonant enough to get shared over and over again is incredibly hard.

Politicians will need to deliver content to the right voters at scale — wherever those voters may be.

When crafting direct mail, political organizations can work with third-party data providers to create custom audience segments, based on attributes like income, age, gender, occupation, location and political affiliation.

For example, one could create an audience segment of Colorado teachers who vote Republican and have a household income of $80,000. Then show them a link to a fascinating sponsored post about education reform.

In order to find voters, campaign strategists will need to be smart about distributing their content across channels. With today’s voter consuming content on different platforms, a winning strategy will need to seek out readers wherever they are — regardless of whether that means a sponsored post on the homepage of USA Today or a content recommendation at the bottom of a story on Business Insider.

Advanced metrics can make your content marketing more effective than ever before.

Content marketers should make sure readers are engaged by using a number of metrics that go beyond clicks and impressions. Those include:

· Scroll Depth/Velocity reveals if they actually engaged with it.

· Completion Rate illustrates how often people finish an entire article or video.

· Social actions let you see how many people share that content.

By analyzing a multitude of data points, politicians can improve their content strategies. For instance, you might find that there’s a certain piece of content really resonating with a segment of your target audience, and then decide to start creating more content relative to that subject.

Or, you could learn that a certain post performs best on Facebook, and then use that insight to spend more money promoting it through that channel. With the wealth of data they receive from online content marketing, politicians can optimize every step of the campaign.

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