Digital List Building: Four Questions You Should Be Asking.

Political list building is essential. In a world where platforms like Facebook and Google can exert control over your digital presence, list building is one of the few ways that you can leverage the advertising capabilities of platforms to build something these tech giants can not take away or cancel – a marketing list of supporters and donors.

But the year is 2021. The 2020 cycle is behind us, and the 2022 & 2024 cycles still feel far away. So what can the digital shop of political campaigns do now to set themselves up for success?

This article will give you 4 strategies and tactics that many political campaigns are not thinking through yet and help set you up for success. These are mainly aimed at digital teams supervising lead-gen and direct donation efforts on platforms like Facebook or Google.

1 – When should I start list building campaigns on digital?

 Strategy: As early as possible. Sometimes it is hard to fight for a list building budget early in a cycle, but the math speaks for itself. The earlier you start to build a supporter list, the longer you’ll have for that list to pay off. Here’s how it works:

– You Spend $100 to acquire 50 leads. That’s a $2 cost-per-lead.

– 2% of your leads (so 1 person) sign up to donate recurring $5/monthly

– 10% of your leads (5 people) make 1-time $10 donations to your digital team’s email, direct mail, or fundraising effort over the next 2 years.

– By the end of a 24-month election cycle, your $100 investment has netted $120 in recurring donations and $50 in one-time donations for a total of $170 earned. That’s a 170% Return On Ad Spend.


2 – How do digital ads play with other digital channels?

Strategy: In a traditional marketing funnel, the investment at the top leads to results at the bottom. Facebook and Google list building ads do not make money in isolation. You need to be running an email and/or an SMS program that is capitalizing on the leads you’re bringing in.

If you are running any component of a marketing funnel without a down funnel strategy, you are wasting a lot of potential. People may see and hear about your candidate on TV or digital ads. Still, you’ll capitalize on the media only if you give voters ways to engage with the candidate on social media or through donation emails in their inboxes.


3 – Don’t just try to get cheap leads 

Strategy: Your cost-per-lead on digital ads can be the most deceptive metric out there. While getting a low-cost-per-lead is good, it’s important to focus on unique leads and quality leads.

 When you first launch lead-gen/list building ads on a platform like Facebook, you’ll get flooded by leads. However, since your goal is to find leads that will make money for your campaign down the road, you need to find a way to control for quality (i.e., how many of your leads will engage/donate with your political campaign this cycle). If you’re running ads for a southern Conservative, you don’t want to direct users to a landing page that asks them to sign a petition to show their support for gun control. You will get leads, but they won’t be valuable users down the line because they don’t support your cause and won’t donate. When you design a prospecting program incorrectly, your cost per lead will be higher when looking at qualified leads only. You can also be cleverer in targeting people who are more likely to take a donation action in the future by selecting certain advanced targeting options in the algorithms. 

4 – Optimize your content based on performance

Strategy: For a large-scale list-building operation, you can’t just rely on a few ad creatives. When we start prospecting for a client, our strategy is to begin testing a wide array of creative and messaging concepts to figure out what content best resonates with each individual audience. 50% of your cost efficiency running list building comes from a data-led, well-oiled, content machine!

Once we start seeing results in platform, we optimize our creative requests to hone in on content that converts. You can’t have an efficient ad operation without a content strategy that delivers creative refreshes for successful evergreen and breaking news programs. As you start to scale up your campaign, we recommend at least 2 creative refreshes a week for each program you’re seeing good results on. 

Have follow-up questions? Feel free to reach out to us directly:

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