This is the last of four parts of a larger article I wrote for the Campaigns & Elections special edition on the CampaignTech conference, which is shipping with the current issue of the magazine. This piece appeared earlier in the C&E blog, and see also Part One, Retail vs. Wholesale Online Politics, Part Two, Data-Driven Politics and an Advertising Explosion, and Part Three, Twitter Duels, Faster Politics, and the Importance of Integration.
Key Political Tools for 2012
Sure, Pinterest and Tumblr are cool, but what tools really matter for campaigns in 2012?
1. CRM Platforms: If you’re trying to stay in touch with a few thousand (or a few million) people at once, you’ll need a database to do it. Fortunately, modern CRM (Constituent Relations Management) tools are up to the challenge. Many political consulting firms offer their own platforms, and campaigns can also take advantage of standardized toolsets like DLCCWeb (on the Left) and NationBuilder (nonpartisan). A good CRM automates the process of signing up for your email list, and most will let you track (and target) supporters based on their past actions or indicated interests. An effective CRM is crucial for any campaign trying to get the most value—in time, money or both—out of its supporters.
2. Fundraising: Speaking of money, online fundraising is where it’s at, whether you’re building a network of small-dollar grassroots donors or trying to increase the efficiency of your big-money bundlers. Every transaction is easier to process if it comes in electronically rather than on paper. Remember, too, that grassroots donors typically give small amounts, meaning that they can donate again and again without reaching FEC limits.
3. Advertising: Online political advertising will be everywhere in 2012. Woe be unto you if you live in a battleground state and hate politics, since you’ll have to turn off all electronic channels to avoid the campaigns. Though even if you hide under your bed, someone’s likely to be figuring out a way to run ads on your dust bunnies