Make the Most of Your Digital Budget

Through social media, campaign content, digital display ads and online video, campaigns up and down the ballot are reaching voters online – every single day of the election cycle. 

But executing an effective digital strategy doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive, and campaigns can quickly implement digital best practices to make the most of any budget. 

The SpeakEasy Political team has broken down campaign-tested no-cost and low-cost strategies to mobilize voters online to get you started. If you would like to consult with us directly on digital ads for your campaign – get in touch and one of our account managers will reach out!

No Cost Ways to Engage Voters Online

Establish a strong social media presence.

Set aside an afternoon to launch your free campaign Facebook and Twitter pages. Your profile picture can be your campaign logo or a campaign-appropriate photo. Make sure to pre-populate your pages with content (more on that below!) so they aren’t empty when you launch. 

Post content that you would want to read as a voter. 

Think about content that would make you want to stop scrolling through family photos from old acquaintances and engage with a candidate’s post. 

Links to upcoming campaign events, succinct policy position summaries on local issues or snapshots of you in the community (think at a local event with your family or with your team knocking doors) are all great places to start. And the shorter the better – the experts agree that shorter social media posts see greater engagement. 

Ask your friends, family and supporters to like, share and retweet.

Ask your supporters to amplify your message to their social networks. 

This is especially important as you’re growing your online presence – once shared, your posts will not only reach your followers, but also the followers of the person that has shared the content. This is a simple, yet effective, strategy to reach community members in a way that feels authentic and organic. (When friends ask you how they can support your campaign, ask them to share your content – after you’ve secured their donation and signed them up for a few canvassing shifts).

Low Cost Tips to Reach Your Target Audience 

Allocate a budget to digital.

Approximately 80% of Americans are online daily and digital ads are a cost-effective and addressable way to reach the right voters, at the right time, with the right message.  

Instead of only spending tens of thousands of dollars on billboards or TV ads that reach everyone (non-registered adults, children and out-of-town visitors), digital ads use audience targeting to talk to only the people you need to reach online. 

And even though spending in political campaigns is projected to continue to grow year over year, many campaigns are still wondering: how much should I really be spending online?

We typically recommend spending 15 – 25% of your total campaign budget online – which includes Facebook, Twitter, banner ads, online video and even CTV (Connected TV).

 Make sure your digital matches your print materials.

We like to think of digital ads like a billboard on the side of the road – something simple, visual and memorable. 

If all of your lawn signs and walk cards are using a green and blue color scheme, think about carrying that over into your digital ads. If your speeches are focusing on education, consider reinforcing that messaging online with education-focused banner ads

Don’t forget about Facebook’s boosted posts.

Have less than $1,000 to spend on digital media? Facebook boosted posts are a cost-efficient and impactful option to get your messaging in front of your audience. 

Facebook allows you to “boost” a post – effectively paying to get it in front of an audience that you wouldn’t typically be reaching organically. We typically recommend starting with $25 for 3-5 days per post, and then increasing the budget if you’re seeing strong engagement (likes, shares and positive comments).

Before you launch your Facebook strategy, be sure to review their authorization requirements for political ads so that your ads will be able to run on the platform. And for more on how to boost a post within the platform, check out Facebook’s guide here

For paid media, make sure your audience size matches your budget.

If you are running for a large city-wide office, but only have $2,000 to spend on digital ads, think about who you actually need to target in order to win. 

While targeting the whole universe of registered voters is always an option on SpeakEasy Political, our platform also lets you target by vote history, age and gender. 

A smaller universe allows you to achieve a higher frequency (the number of times voters see your ads). For example, if your strategy tells you that frequent women voters are most likely to turn out and vote for you in your election, think about using that voter universe for your GOTV (Get Out the Vote) ads. 

Our pricing page can help you budget and target based on how much you’d like to spend – or send us a note and one of our account managers will be in touch with draft budgets for your review. 

SpeakEasy Political is a self-serve Democratic ad platform that templates professionally designed campaign creative and integrates voter targeting, in order to make top-of-the-ticket political mail and digital media easily accessible to Democratic campaigns up and down the ballot. Launch your digital program today with SpeakEasy Political or talk to one of our account managers by reaching out to hello@speakeasypolitical.com.


Focus on the Fundamentals

This may seem overly simplistic, but the person who wins an election is the person who gets the most votes. So, the focus of any campaign should be garnering as many votes as possible. Except for biennial November General Elections essentially every election is a low turnout affair. Many of these low turnout elections have fewer than 10% of the people in your district voting.

Since roughly 90% of the people in your district aren’t going to cast a ballot doing a lot of general outreach to the community at large makes little sense. Smart campaigns identify the subset of voters who are likely to vote, and then focus their entire campaigns on only those voters (except for family and close friends who you know you can harass into voting for you when they don’t normally vote). Everyone who is unlikely to vote, which is most people, should be dead to your campaign.

If you don’t have a data scientist at your disposal then voting history is generally the best way to determine your likely voter universe. People who have a robust history of voting in elections with similar, or lower, turnout than the election in which your campaign will be on the ballot are going to be your likely voters. The size of the universe should be slightly larger than what you expect turnout to be. Use historical turnout as a guide if you don’t have a better option.

In these low turnout elections the candidate(s) with the higher name ID among those voters casting ballots wins much more often than not. That makes logical sense too. When going into a voting booth if one name resonates with us much more than the others we tend to vote for the name we know best. This is especially true when a voter is personally contacted by a campaign, and campaign contacts are best done by the candidate themselves.

Active voter outreach, like canvassing and phone banking, are more effective than passive communication (like mailers and social media). Having money for a robust mail plan can be a quick way to increase your name ID, but campaigns without the funds for such things can be successful. It will just take (literal) sweat equity by lower funded campaigns as they will need to make up for a lack of funds by outhustling their opponents at the doors and on the phones.

There are no shortcuts to winning campaigns. Quick, cheap, and easy ways for you to win your campaign don’t exist. If your campaign isn’t the hardest thing you have ever done in your life then you likely aren’t doing it right. Hard working campaigns with strong fundamentals beat better funded, but lazy, campaigns all the time. Doing the work of running a proper campaign of methodically reaching out to likely voters may be the hard path, but it is the right path.