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How Web Analytics Data Was Used To Win The US Presidential Election – GAAC Summit Day 1

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By Adrian Tan on October 14th, 2009

Director, Online Marketing Services. Oversees the SEM, SEO & Web Analytics operations of the unit. Actively engages the industry as a regular speaker; advocating Online Advertising in particular.

in Web Analytics | 5 Comments

As the first Google Analytics Authorised Consultant (GAAC) in South East Asia, we were extended an invitation to the annual GAAC Summit held at Google’s birthplace in Mountain View, USA. As luck would have it, we were greeted on the first day of the event with a severe storm system with chances of hurricane (arrgghhh).

Dan Siroker Presentation on Importance of Data in Obama Campaign

Well, bad weather aside, we entered the hollowed grounds of geeks (we will do another post on the Google premises another day..promise) and settled ourselves down for the start of the keynote speech. Dan Siroker, Fomer Director of Analytics in the Obama Presidential Campaign team would be sharing on How They Had Used Data To Win The Election! This would be behind the doors look at how Online Media and Web Analytics helped Obama beat McCain, changed the political scene in one of the most powerful nations in the world and how it has influenced the course of history (ok..I am being dramatic here).

Dan Siroker Presentation on Importance of Data in Obama Campaign

Here is Dan explaining why he left Google (woh) for the Obama campaign and onwards.

Dan started with the fundamentals. For the US Presidential race, accumulation of campaign funds was critical to the success of the candidates bid. Drawing parallels between the commercial sector (how companies need to increase revenue and be profitable) and the mechanics of the political election, Dan quite sensationally revealed the following statistics:

- Obama had 2.5 M Facebook friends compared to a paltry 0.5 M Facebook friends for McCain (seems strange to think of politicians on Facebook though..)
– Obama raised USD 500 M online versus the total amount of USD 201 M by McCain

Dan Siroker Presentation on Importance of Data in Obama Campaign

The Obama Campaign

Dan proceeded to reveal the secrets that triggered success in the online arena for Obama – 5 simple tips.

5 great take-aways in handling Analytics and Optimization

1. Define Quantifiable Success
As with what GAACs do, Dan defined the conversion cycles and measurement parameters involved from website (cost per click)> signups (conversion rate)> money raised ($ per recipient). With the statistics that come in, it would enable the limited resources (even for Obama, there were limited budget available for each marketing channel) to be deployed appropriately and speedily to the needed areas.

Define your key success metrics

2. Question Assumptions
The most interesting segment at his talk. We were shown various versions of the splash screen for the Obama campaign website and asked to judge which versions we thought would perform the best. The majority voted for a “Sign Up Now” button with an impressive video of Obama’s tour of the country.

Different copy text, different experiments

Donation button experiment

We were wrong.

Based on data from analytics, a passive “Learn More” button with a static and non-Obama centric picture of a family trumped the rest of the variations. Moral of story was to test, test and test. No assumptions should be made and that unique scenarios would need unique approaches!

How the pre-donation page looks like...

3. Divide and Conquer
Extending the above point, it would be best to optimise different landing pages for the various audience types. New customers/visitors would see a different version of the landing page compared to return visitors. This was how the Obama campaign extracted maximum donations from their website by customising the landing pages.

Donation button experiment

4. Don’t Reinvent The Wheel
Use existing tools available: Google Analytics, Google AdWords, Yahoo/Bing SEM, Google Optimiser, other tools. There is not much point in creating some proprietary tool that does the same thing as existing ones.

5. Take Advantage of Circumstances
A video of Sarah Palin was shown with insights of how Obama’s New Media team quickly swung into action while the video was first aired. An email was crafted out and sent to the Obama’s team database. As a result of the quick action, there were huge returns obtained. Again, with the pace of communication through online, companies need to make use of this intrinsic benefit vis-a-vis the traditional media.

Email sent after Palin's campaign on the TV

Inspired by these tips, we at clickTRUE would certainly strive to put our next client on the same success path as Obama’s team did for his campaign (and who knows, maybe we could help in the upcoming election rally in Singapore).

5 Responses to “How Web Analytics Data Was Used To Win The US Presidential Election – GAAC Summit Day 1”

  1. Dan Siroker says:

    Thanks for taking such good notes, videos, and photos of my talk. Hope you enjoyed it!

  2. Jereme Wong says:

    We did! Thanks for sharing Dan!

  3. Jeanlebon says:

    Very well done.

  4. Great post! I really enjoyed the presentation as well. I will send this post to my co-workers so they can enjoy the video.

  5. Joanna says:

    fabulous! thanks for sharing guys! :)

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