Guest article! Jason Rosenbaum of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee graciously agreed to send over some additions to “How Campaigns Can Use the Internet to Win in 2012.” Jason works with candidates across the country and has some excellent nuts-and-bolts suggestions to help campaigns choose and use online tools. Also see Charles Lenchner’s earlier interview with Jason about what makes a good campaign new media director and his thoughts about a campaign’s first hire(s).
What the “Winning in 2012” EBook Left Out
After thinking about what I run into with campaigns all the time, here are some additions to the book you might think about:
How to Evaluate Tools
We have a lot of choice with CRMs and the like these days, and it’s not always obvious which is best. So guidelines on what to look for are helpful. Things that are important to me are:
- tracking, testing (random splits, easy a/b tests, good metrics)
- good targeting abilities and advanced queries (recency [ie: people who’ve been active in the last month], geographic, donor levels, and complex combinations)
- ease and flexibility of setting up email and website templates
- ease of setting up daisy chain actions and integrate sharing options and other things on thank you pages, after a user takes action
- flexibility of the system (can I make many different signup pages, flexible surveys/questionnaires, donate forms, etc…).
Basically, can a CRM handle the normal, day-to-day online organizing tactics like flexible and multiple signup pages, social sharing, and testing/tracking? (And, keep in mind that you can use different systems for different parts — one for email and signup pages, one for online fundraising, etc… For how to keep those working together, see below.)
It’s worth advising campaigns to think about data flow at the outset, as they are buying and choosing tools. I think the basic questions are:
- how will email addresses collected in the field by hand get on the email list?
- how will donor email addresses and information get on the email list?
- how will online donations be exported to the campaign’s finance software?
- how will online field recruitment (volunteers, event RSVPs) be exported to the campaign’s field software?
This doesn’t necessarily mean you need an all-in-one solution (some vendors’ integrated online tools are awful), but rather that you need to think about how the data will flow to make sure your tools can work well together.
Website Content Management Systems
The book hit the CRM points really well, but a campaign’s website (as opposed to its action forms, which are handled by the CRM) is usually built on different technology (say, WordPress) and is also an important choice. So figuring out how to evaluate the various platforms is important. Criteria like:
- the ability to create a good looking, customized template or theme on the CMS that fits your campaign’s needs, and get it coded at a reasonable price
- the ability to update things easily
- the ability to change basic things like navigation bars, sidebars, and homepage sections easily without relying on a coder
Overall, a system should be easy enough to use that other campaign hires like comms directors can post their own content (like press releases), etc.
Integration with Other Departments
One of the major jobs of a new media director, in my mind, is to go around to the other departments on a campaign and figure out how to use online tools to help their jobs and solve their problems. So how can field be collecting email addresses everywhere they go? How can online tools help field keep in touch with volunteers, and recruit them, too? How can online help finance turn low dollar donors into high dollar donors? Etc.
Asking these kinds of questions early can help supercharge other departments and give your campaign a solid foundation from the start.
Thanks Jason! This is a big help, and a reminder of how valuable it is to an author to have friends who know more about aspects of this field than he does. Teamwork! – cpd