How Trump Won /w Digital

Kyle CassanoBusiness,Featured,Politics

If you’re a campaign consultant, or work in public affairs you know that it’s no secret digital marketing and advertising plays a much larger role in political campaigns cycle after cycle. In 2008 Obama used Facebook his first time around to connect with soccer moms to defeat his rival Senator John McCain. This past cycle, Trump used micro-targeting and collected data from putting money into the market to guide his strategic decisions on fundraising and messaging.

If you’ve met with, or worked with anyone on our team before then much of what you read in this article will sound familiar. If you have sat in our conference room, or us in yours, then you have no doubt heard Kyle Cassano’s bit about optimization and digital strategy – “we do more of what works and less of what doesn’t [work].”

Or perhaps you can recall hearing Todd say, “we let the data tell us what to do and what to say.”

That’s what’s so great about digital. The data doesn’t lie and it doesn’t take long for us to tell you which messages are performing best; who exactly the audience is; where they’re located; what they care about, etc. We’re never guessing or waiting on the results from a poll.

Kushner is quoted in this article saying “I called some of my friends from Silicon Valley,some of the best digital marketers in the world, and asked how you scale this stuff,” Kushner told the magazine. “They gave me their subcontractors.”

Yes, there are some very talented folks in the Silicon Valley, but I am here to tell you that you don’t need to go all the way out there to find the best digital marketers in the world. You’ve got the team at Digital Advocacy right here in your backyard. Am I tooting my own horn here? Maybe a bit… but our clients will tell you that we have been saying the exact same thing you’ll read in the article about how Kushner let Trump to victory using digital marketing.

Our clients already know. Over the past 3 years we have remained the the background, behind the scenes, quietly guiding our clients to victory using the data we collect from managing their digital efforts to inform the overall strategies.

We inform our clients about best and worst performing ad messages so they can quickly scale up. We tell them to increase spend for the best performing messages and quickly kill the worst.

We report on sentiment and social comments — what their audience is talking about and what they care about so we can integrate that feedback into our ads.

What happens when we get the message right?

  • We see social engagement go through the roof.
  • Our audience begins to ask questions – the right questions. The questions we want them to ask. Questions that give us the opportunity to educate and insert our message into the minds of voters.
  • Our base supporters begin to chime in on post comments and support our messaging.
  • We hear our supporters spout back our key message points (almost verbatim) – this is when we know we have achieved message penetration and it is sticking with our target.
  • As you’ll note in the CNN article, they echoed many of these same sentiments.

I want to break down a few more paragraphs in this article and tell you how we have been doing this same thing for our clients:

Ivanka Trump’s husband learned how to use Facebook micro-targeting, and social media becoming a major aspect of the campaign’s voter outreach strategy.

  • We take the voter file and identify voters by email and phone number. We upload this list to Facebook, Twitter, Google AdWords and run a match rate to see how many people on that voter file have profiles on Facebook, Twitter or Google. Once we have our matched list of voters we create a look-a-like audience on our ad platforms to build an audience that closely resembles (demographic, interests, geo, etc.) the list we have build using quality data. We serve our ads to this audience.

Kushner formally took over the data efforts for Trump in June, Forbes reports, building a secret 100-person data hub in San Antonio, Texas, “designed to unify fundraising, messaging and targeting.”

  • Collecting data (engagements with our content) we are able to identify trends. This data informs our overall campaign strategy (direct mail, digital ads, video, TV, and website content).

Kushner and his team took a fast-moving, trial-and-error approach to spending in states, reflecting the Trump campaign’s famously lean spending strategy throughout the campaign. This was key to victories for the Republican candidate in states like Michigan and Pennsylvania.

“We played Moneyball, asking ourselves which states will get the best (return on investment) for the electoral vote,” he said. “I asked, ‘How can we get Trump’s message to that consumer for the least amount of cost?'”

  • The ROI approach to digital is A.M’s core operating principle. We shy away from impressions and awareness and build our campaigns around overall campaign goals. This is the strategic approach that is missing in the online sphere of political campaigns. This is what makes Digital Advocacy different from its competitors. We are familiar with this approach because our background is e-commerce and business to consumer marketing / advertising. When we apply this strategy to political campaigns we eliminate waste — we get more bang for our buck. We are simply able to spend wisely and focus on areas that perform better.

“We weren’t afraid to make changes. We weren’t afraid to fail. We tried to do things very cheaply, very quickly. And if it wasn’t working, we would kill it quickly,” he said. “It meant making quick decisions, fixing things that were broken and scaling things that worked.”

  • Perhaps one of the echoing comments that we hear time and time again from our clients is the awe in which we are able to make changes to our online campaigns. We call this “optimization” and it is a standard part of daily campaign maintenance.

What should you takeaway from this email?

  • Let digital guide your overall strategic messaging and ground operations – NOT the other way around.
  • Call Digital Advocacy NOT the folk in Silicon Valley.
  • Let digital experts build your digital strategy.
  • Start with building quality data (user-based), NOT cookie-based targeted segments (“persuadable on gun control”) or a purchased email list.

What’s next?

How about a phone call to chat about how we might be able to assist your team with digital? Have a potential client? We will write the digital piece of your proposal and consult on strategy to help you win the client.

To see what else we’ve been up to and are capable of doing, please take a look at our Capabilities Deck… hooray! (Click the BIG red button below to download the deck)

If you have any digital needs or know someone who does, please shoot me a call at 916.601.7527 or email us directly at!

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