December 18, 2017

Helping PR pros make smarter decisions

Obama Takes Next Step with Email Supporters

Obama Takes Next Step with Email Supporters

In the weeks since Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential election, there has been considerable discussion in the blogosphere over how the campaign would take advantage of its massive email list now that the race is over and governing has begun.

The first clues emerged early this morning when campaign manager David Plouffe asking each supporter to “Share your campaign experience and your thoughts on the best way to keep supporting our agenda for change.”

It then links to a four screen questionnaire aimed at gathering valuable segmentation data about the individual, including things like how frequently they attend religious services, how they identify themselves (politically and demographically)


Next, the survey moves on to the mechanics of how the email subscriber might be interested in helping out — things like community organizing or supporting legislation, for example.


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This should help the campaign separate the hard-core supporters from those with a casual interest — something incredibly valuable for future outreach efforts. Many of Obama’s supporters may have been interested in the concept of change, but may not be as inclined to take regular, active steps to enact his specific agenda.

Finally, the survey advances to issue identification questions to help them determine what motivates the individual supporter — education, environment, budget, Iraq, or any number of others. Supporters can even write in other issues.


The survey concludes with open-ended questions enabling the supporters to feel empowered to share their personal anecdotes and suggestions.Interestingly, there’s a reference in the survey to the notion of a future “Obama organization.” This is obviously fairly vauge, but it suggests the campaign could be interested in setting up some sort of advocacy organization as a successor to the election effort. Of course, it could also be something less innovative like the Obama 2012 campaign or even the Democratic National Committee. In any case, it does seem to suggest that there may be plans for some sort of external effort maintained to support Obama’s governing policies.

There are lessons in what Obama has done and continues to do for business marketers as well. Trying to convert one set of leads to another can be a complicated process, but the approach taken by the Obama campaign to identify why people became leads in the first place is something that many could replicate in the future.

Individuals are always more receptive to messaging targeted at their specific interests as opposed to generic mass communication. By gathering valuable data to enable careful list segmentation, the Obama campaign will be exponentially increasing its ability to influence future outcomes.

The key question at this point is how responsive Obama’s email supporters are to this new effort. How many people on that list were passive and how many want to remain invovled? Even if only a small percentage of the list takes this next step, however, it will be an incredibily valuable asset for years to come.

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About The Author

Chip Griffin is the Founder of CustomScoop. He writes and speaks frequently about data-driven public relations. You can follow him on Twitter at @ChipGriffin.

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