Common Mistakes Local Campaigns Should Avoid When Using Digital

Meet John. John is a political consultant based in Arlington, Texas. In 2016, he helped guide his clients’ campaigns to narrow victories primarily using traditional methods of TV and direct mail alone.

Even though his efforts were successful (his clients won), the margin of victory was too close for comfort. John knows his future campaigns are going to need more firepower to gain and retain a stronger lead through Election Day. The seemingly obvious addition is simplified digital, but he’s on the fence – his experiences with the medium have felt like a complete waste of resources.

With only a couple of local races to manage this year, John is looking to 2017 as a proving ground for incorporating digital into his future campaign arsenal.

Here are 3 mistakes John (and you) should avoid to get the most out of digital for your local campaigns:

1) Using Digital as an Extra

Digital can’t be an afterthought for modern campaigns. It’s not an extra you cast to stand in the background when you have some cash to spare. Taking that approach will limit the potential return.

Great campaigns cast digital as a lead role, incorporating and planning for it from the start as a core component of voter outreach. Make the commitment to digital early and reap the benefits on Election Day.

2) Micro-targeting to Oblivion

The ability of digital to target and deliver messages to highly targeted audiences is nothing less than impressive. However, just because the technology exists doesn’t mean you should deploy it as the only strategy for every digital campaign.

Successful digital programs need scale. While targeting and delivering a tailored message to female business owners over the age of 50 that also have an interesting in school choice may work for a statewide or nationwide campaign, it will limit the scale and performance of digital in tight geo. Worse yet is only matching the voter file to digital cookies or IP addresses.

Focus on delivering core messages that resonate with broad audiences at first. If you see success, test more specific messages to tailored audiences.

3) Driving Traffic Without an Acquisition Goal

Local campaigns that make the commitment to cast digital in a lead role need to see a high return. If you’re using ads to drive awareness alone and not acquire voter information, you’re losing a lot of value.

Acquisition doesn’t have to be difficult or a big ask. Campaigns can stretch their digital investment and improve ROI by simply collecting voter email addresses on the landing page. This will allow your campaign to further education the voter in the future and even make donation appeals – for free!


Digital is a powerful tool that deserves to be demystified. By avoiding these three landmines, political consultants, like John, can take full advantage of the medium’s benefits for their local campaigns.

The 2017 cycle is still in its early stages. Make the commitment to digital today, avoid these mistakes, and watch the needle move in your client’s favor.