If there is one thing that is a staple of the election season, it is campaign ads. You cannot watch television for more than a few minutes in a swing state without being bombarded with ads; you cannot drive to the supermarket without sneering at a few lawn signs extolling the virtues of “the Other Guy”.
Things are no different on the web, where we see countless political banners, videos, and calls to action put in front of us at all times. And while as a nonprofit many of the attacks ads and partisan catch phrases may not seem applicable, you can still learn a lot about effective calls to action from the online ads we run into daily.
So what can we learn from the political calls to action this election season? Here are three common elements the majority of them are using:
Strong and Consistent Marketing Phrases
Whether the phrase is “We Need a Real Recovery” or a simple word like “Forward”, political calls to action tend to use these phrases across multiple mediums in order to drive a consistent message. The imagery and context may change, but the marketing phrase is in there somewhere.
This is an important lesson to learn when running an online fundraising drive – you should be using a consistent message that can be easily disseminated across your website, social networks and print materials. This use of marketing phrases allows the message to really sink into your audience’s sub-conscious, causing them to think on your mission and fundraising goals each time they come across that simple phrase.
This one is pretty straight forward, but still worth examining. Many times in political calls to action you will see crowds of people at a rally, photos of individuals either positively or adversely affected by the policies the ad is either promoting or condemning, or simply photos of the candidate in action.
The common thread across all these images is people. People either making eye contact with the camera or looking away from the camera. The mere presence of eye contact can dramatically change the impact of your call to action and change the mood of the entire image. Eye contact invokes involvement and a feeling that the viewer is being directly engaged by the message. Lack of eye contact implies the viewer is a simply an observer to the scene, though if the scene is a profound one, this can still provoke an emotional response.
As someone working to engage people to contribute online, the use of imagery can make a huge difference in how your call to action is received.
Closing the Sale
Now that you have engaged your potential donor with a strong marketing phrase that the donor may have seen in your Facebook Feed, and drawn them in emotionally with strong imagery, it is time to close the deal.
You have seen this countless times in political ads this season: “Make Sure We Finish Strong”, “Help Turn Around America”, “Midnight Deadline for hitting our Grassroots Goal”, and so on. Online donors are notoriously distracted, being ready to give one moment and making a easily forgotten mental note to do it later when something else grabs their attention. Using closing phrases helps solidify that engagement you built through marketing phrases and imagery and turns that potential donor into a contributor to your cause.
Now, Here’s a Challenge!
One of my favorite examples of clever online campaigning this year has to be www.romneytaxplan.com, paid for by the Democratic National Committee.
This example uses reverse usability to create an un-clickable button. It takes a second before you get what the ad is trying to say, but when you do, you can’t help but chuckle regardless of whether you agree with the message or not.
So, with that that said, how could you use some fun methods like this to engage with your donors? While many causes are too serious to be able to joke around like this example, there is plenty of room for having some fun with some of the fundraising campaigns I’ve seen across the industry. So, be bold with your call to action, follow the above tips, don’t be afraid to have some fun, and maybe the next item on my Facebook wall with be a call to action with your shiny new marketing phrase on it!