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4 Reasons Why Obama’s Digital Strategy Was a Success

by on December 27, 2012

obama's digital

Barack Obama’s digital strategy was key to his re-election effort. But what made it so effective? EngageDC, a political new media agency, recently published “Inside the Cave,” an in-depth look at the Obama campaign’s digital secret sauce.

The report itself, while well worth a read by digital politics geeks, weighs in at a lengthy 93 pages. If you would like a “too long, didn’t read” version, Mashable has collected some highlights of the report’s arguments for your enjoyment.

1. Obama Hired Technologists, Not Politicians

Looking at EngageDC’s list of Obama’s “best and brightest,” a common trend emerges: Obama hired technologists, not politicians, to work on the digital and technology teams.

The technologists created something like a startup within the larger campaign. How did Obama recruit his digital brain trust? They pored over data rolls, looking for people working in technology fields, then sent this email:

“You’re one of very few people receiving this email because, based on what you’ve told the Obama organization in the past. We think you might know someone who should quit his or her job and come work on the Obama campaign’s digital team for the next 18 months. It won’t pay very well. The hours are terrible …. Most people who come to work here will take a pay cut.”

2. In Analytics They Trusted

The Obama team understood what the technology startup community has known for years — data don’t lie, and analytics are the key to success. EngageDC found “every aspect of the campaign,” from the digital team to boots-on-the-ground field organizers, used analytics to work smarter. The overall analytics team was five times bigger in 2012 than it was in 2008.

3. Obama’s Social Team: Lean, Agile and Innovative

1.2 million active Facebook app users. 34 million Facebook fans and 98% of American Facebook users were friends with an Obama fan, helping his content go viral. 24 million Twitter followers. The most tweeted photo ever. That all takes a mammoth social media team, right? Wrong. Obama’s social media squad was four people.

4. Click Here to Donate

Obama raised $690 million online in 2012, almost $200 million more than he did four years ago. More individuals donated online and the average donation was up from $126 to $156. How did Obama’s team pull that off? Put simply: Testing and anxiety. EngageDC boiled it down to a three-step process:

1. Send A LOT more email than 2008 (at least 404 national fundraising emails in 2012).
2. Test everything.
3. Make people think they were going to lose.

Obama’s donations emails weren’t the only source of online cash for the campaign: Quick Donate, a mobile-friendly wallet app that stored Obama supporters’ credit card information on file, had more than 1.5 million users and raised $115 million.



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