As we continue to labor through the days before the respective conventions and the start of the fall campaign, I continue to be amazed by the lack of real attention being paid by the GOP and the Mitt Romney camp with respect to digital media.
The lack of attention is contrasted dramatically with the intense focus and tactical execution of those that inhabit the “Obama Bunker” in Chicago. The lack of basic knowledge and focus on best of breed interactive strategies within the Republican Party is frankly embarrassing. Having been a witness to the debacle thus far, I can only surmise that the GOP is buying into a belief system that the Internet and Social Media strategies are irrelevant to winning the White House in November. If this discounting of the importance of the interactive marketplace is real, we have found the one marketing unit on the face of the earth that believes it.
The latest Social Media site data trend continues the trend line of the last six months. President Obama, with 27,051, 392 Facebook Likes compared to Mitt Romney’s 1,952, 259, continues to crush it. On Twitter the numbers continue to be equally dominant — Mitt with his 561,860 followers compares to the President’s 16,714,936. We continue to hear just how important a role the women’s vote will play in this year’s election. Michelle Obama has more than 1,056,441 Twitter followers compared to Ann Romney’s 47,491. There is nothing on the radar screen to suggest any radical change in these numbers is forthcoming in the next several months.
Obama’s search traffic five times higher than Romney’s
In fact, a recent article in Search Engine Watch, Eli Goodman provided incremental evidence of the Obama online juggernaut in his analysis of “search trends.” Goodman has been monitoring key word searches being made by individuals for both “Romney” & “Obama” on all search engines, his premise being that those who are interested in learning more about the respective candidates are using search engines to learn more about their views, etc.
Comparing Barack Obama’s search volume in 2008 (when he was battling Hillary Clinton for the nomination ) to Mitt Romney’s volume in 2012 at this point in time, we learn that Obama’s search traffic is five times that of the GOP contender.
Obama delivering more paid search, display ads
There is some acknowledgement of the importance of search in attracting undecided voters to the GOP/ Mitt Romney camp. MittRomney.com is delivering 2.4 million paid search ads to support this effort at key interactive intersections. The real problem, though, in paid search is that BarackObama.com is delivering 7.5 million paid search ads, more than three times that of Romney.
Within the online display advertising arena, the data is consistent from Comscore Ad Metrix. Romney is delivering 26 million impressions (mostly on Facebook) versus the Obama campaign that is delivering a staggering 865 million impressions across hundreds of sites. One of the most popular ad units in the online campaign features Michelle Obama encouraging voters to “Tell Barack You’re In.”
Making email count
Effective email communications continues to be the most cost effective and efficient manner to establish a dynamic and engaging conversation with consumers and voters. One of the basic mistakes that most marketers made in the early days was to think about email as “electronic direct mail”.
Take a direct mail mentality and mailing piece convert it to a “one size fits all” electronic format and blast away into consumer mailboxes. The thought was “email is cheaper than direct mail… we can send a ton of it for little money and be effective.” That philosophy worked for about 10 seconds before consumers started equating irrelevant “Dear Friend, Dear Customer” emails to “spam.” Spam messages taking the EZ Pass lane to the electronic trash can. It seems that nearly everyone in the consumer marketing arena now understands just how important leveraging data and personalization in electronic communications is in building an effective and engaging dialogue with consumers.
Where Romney’s emails fall short
Everyone it seems, with the exception of the GOP and “Believe in America – Romney Folks.” In the last week, I have received three emails: A Flag Day from Mitt, A Father’s Day message from Tagg Romney and a “Small Towns” email from Katie Packer Gage.
Each email must assume that I am interested in opening the message due to the nondescript Subject Lines being used: “Our Flag”, “My Dad” & “Small Towns.” Gotta tell ya, if I weren’t tracking the campaigns like I am, nothing in these subject lines would give me any pause to open any of these messages (I would be very interesting to see open rates for these messages ). Having opened each email, I am greeted with the salutation “Republican” …not “Dear Republican”… just Republican.
How to fix it
A couple of issues here: No. 1, it’s just bad form in a letter and/or an email to bark “Republican”… you would never write an email or letter without using “Dear” because it denotes some reverence for the reader and sincerity from the author. No. 2, in 2012 with all of the incredible access to data and personalization, I would hope that the Romney campaign is using an email platform to build dynamic and personalized emails. It looks like they aren’t. UGH.
They have my email address; they most probably have my first and last name from one of the millions of databases available in the market that match my email with my first and last name. Why would you ever send an email to “Republican “when you could give the impression of a strong connection between message and recipient by greeting the recipient with a personalized salutation like “Dear Al”? It’s mind boggling to me that we have a team working on behalf of a candidate for President of the United States that doesn’t grasp these basic fundamentals.
What Mitt needs to do to communicate better
There is nothing fundamentally wrong with reminding voters of the importance of Flag Day or your daughter letting everyone know she feels about her Dad on Father’s Day. I really don’t even mind hearing from the Deputy Campaign Manager about the “Small Towns” Tour T Shirt. What’s truly wrong is that the GOP and Mitt aren’t bringing anything close to their “A” game to the interactive marketplace. They seem to be caught in a time warp and asleep at the wheel.
Email campaigns should be used aggressively to continue to pound the message of the fundamental differences between where Mitt Romney and the GOP stand versus the President. The messages need to be targeted and personalized by geography and/or any other metric that can be appended to an email record. Mitt needs to speak to voters like he knows them, cares about their challenges and can provide meaningful assurance that when he does win the White House, their concerns and need will be taken care of.
Mitt Romney and the GOP are losing the battle for the interactive voter population in grand fashion. The search and social media data validates it clearly. Now, if all the campaign can muster up is “Republican” Salutations in their email campaigns to bridge the gap in providing voters a meaningful online connection that will move the ballot box in November, we most definitely have a significant failure to communicate.