Victory Lab II - Lessons for Marketers from the 2012 Presidential Campaign

Head of Research and Insights
Published 11/8/12
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Political campaigns are marketing campaigns

Election Day 2012 has come and gone, and apart from the many important political messages, there are also lessons and insights for marketers.

Marketers can learn from both campaigns


Further to my blog post on "The Victory Lab" - which looked at how campaigns have set new standards in targeted, personalized marketing, a series of recent articles published after the election highlighted how "in politics, the era of big data has arrived."  Two articles stand out: Anthony Young of Advertising Age offered his marketer's assessment of the election, and Time Magazine got an 'insiders' look at the Democratic party "data crunchers who helped Obama win." From these two articles, I have summarized five of the most important lessons for travel marketers:

1.  Hyper-Local is the New Black: The campaigns deployed precisely targeted online advertising down to very small areas, complementing targeting by behavior and context. Mobile advertising emerged as a significant new digital channel for the first time.

2. Adaptive Marketing is Critical: Iterative marketing was a major strength of both campaigns, allowing messaging and delivery to be continually refined based on results. Emails were continually tested in multiple formats with subject line, content and sender all tightly tested. Results from top performing emails to bottom within a single testing cycle of different 'recipes' could vary by over 1000%. Campaigns also applied testing across channels, trying creative ideas online before deploying them on a more expensive (and difficult to change) medium - television.

Iterative marketing was a major strength of both campaigns.

3. Video Still Works: The campaigns all spent heavily on TV because it still can offer real impact and reach. Online video also entered the mainstream, and spending rose on online video advertising an estimated 700% from 2008.

4. Focus on Your Swing Voters: Both campaigns invested a huge proportion of their spend and effort on trying to win over voters in key swing states. Marketers can also consider how to apply targeted resources to move customers from "interest" to "action." Applying additional effort in specific markets or "interested" customer groups will likely generate better results than spreading the same effort thinly across many prospects.

5. Remember Your Ground Game: With all of the new marketing tools/techniques available, consider the role of good old-fashioned customer service. Like politics, travel is a "people business" -  personal, one-on-one interactions with customers still lie at the center of most successful travel organizations.  

More:  Advertising Age:  "What Marketers Can Take from the Presidential Campaigns' Best Tactics," Anthony Young.

More: Time Magazine "Inside the Secret World of Data Crunchers Who Helped Obama Win."

More:  "The Victory Lab" - The Author's Blog (with links to Sasha Issenberg's book "The Victory Lab")