Why should direct mail be part of a candidate’s outreach strategy?
Direct mail is the unsung hero of creating voter engagement. In the 2018 election cycle, a record $573 million was spent on this channel. That’s in a fractured and crowded media environment – TV, billboards, radio, web, email, social, search, etc. Mail combines print – ink on paper – with marketing to create the “Mail Moment”. That’s the time every day when a consumer looks through the mail they got and hopefully has their routine interrupted by the messaging, images, and copy you use to promote your candidate.
How is direct mail in the 2020 election different than in years past?
Coronavirus has changed the landscape of political campaigns because its spread and the reaction to it has been so unpredictable. Face-to-face campaigning, whether it’s knocking on doors, greeting workers during a shift change at a factory, or making a speech in front of any crowd from 100 to 10,000, is now seen as risky. Mail, though, goes to every household in the country. So there’s an opportunity to reach people at home like never before because their habits, jobs, businesses, and distractions have all changed in some big ways. With data profiles, you can more precisely tailor your campaign’s messaging to specific segments.
There are a lot of direct mail formats. Which one works best in profiling my candidate?
A jumbo-sized postcard works best because it is economical not just in cost but in how it lets you tell a story about the candidate. You can use white space and a hierarchy of text, images, and graphics to make it easy for a prospective voter to follow a message and form an impression of your candidate. With a regular contact schedule, you can use different mailpieces to talk about their qualifications, stands on issues, endorsements and testimonials, as well as that most important call-to-action: to vote.
Is mail better or worse than using other channels for a political campaign?
Actually, direct mail can make an enormous impact on supporters as part of an integrated, omnichannel experience. There are many options in addition to simply linking people from your mail piece to your campaign website or social media site via a QR code.
You can sync a mail drop with an email campaign using USPS informed Delivery. A voter who gets a digital sneak preview of their incoming mail every morning is directed to whatever landing page you want, before the postal carrier shows up at their mailbox. You can also set up special messaging for your voter segments with a mailpiece that opens their smart speaker tech. Or you may want to target visitors to your website or social media with a postcard mailed to an address that matches their IP address. In each case, when you reinforce a consistent message across all channels, you build trust in your intended voters.
What one thing do you need to get right in political direct mail?
Data is the most crucial factor in creating successful campaign messaging and voter outreach. You may think that you should mail to everyone in the constituency you’re running to represent. But everyone is not your audience. Instead of the spray-and-pray approach, start as early as possible by looking at voter registration lists.
With up-to-date addresses and party affiliations as your foundation, you can fill in gaps with lists from credible data suppliers. These brokers can help you add datasets from lots of third-party sources. Then, you can mail to different segments based on gender, age, and a wide variety of interests. This makes it easier to introduce and reinforce your campaign’s messaging on specific issues and contrast your candidate’s positions and background with the opposition. Hitting that sweet spot – getting aligned with voters – helps drive them to the ballot box.