Political parties and activist campaigns across the world are changing in response to technological changes in the way citizens and voters interact with the world around them. In every capital and regional centre political parties are asking themselves the same questions:
How and where will we reach voters? How can we build our party membership? What should our digital strategy be? How do we win election?
Check out our guide to the political campaign softwares and tools that we are seeing to be effective for parties and politicians.
1. Slack - If you haven’t used Slack before it's just a really great way for teams to communicate. It has a laptop interface that allows teams to share messages, documents, images and so on for fantastic office communications. It also has a great mobile app that allows you to connect all your field workers into the loop. You can create channels in Slack for, say, Precinct #4 Field Team, or Voter Issues, and in this way keep on top of all aspects of your campaign communications in a clean way. Oh, and it’s entirely free until a certain threshold of messages have been sent (but you’re unlikely to hit that in a normal campaign).
2. Youtube - Youtube needs no introduction but it makes our list because so much content online is being consumed in video format. Candidates need to be in front of camera explaining their message and responding to what comes up on the campaign trail. These videos can be shared through social media and email subsequently. Youtube is a free product unless you want to promote your videos. Check out our own Youtube channnel here.
3. CallHub - CallHub is a really great phone-banking and text messaging software that connects to your voter database. Charges are based on the number of calls made. Ideal for GOTV and general voter outreach. Plus, follow them on social media and you can see they are made up of some really dedicated and passionate staff!
4. Hotjar - This might not be known to you but Hotjar can record visitor interactions on your website. See how visitors navigate your site, what they respond to and what they skip over. This is amazing software for figuring out how to get people to donate to your site, sign up for a newsletter or become a supporter. It also gives really valuable information on the types of content that visitors like, so you can cycle that intelligence back into your campaign. Free or €29 per month plans available.
5. Hootsuite- Hootsuite is a social media scheduling tool (we love this). Connect your Facebook, Twitter and other social media to Hootsuite and you can then schedule content to go out at intervals over the coming days and weeks. It has really helpful auto-suggest content for you as well, based on your preferences. HootSuite simplifies your social media efforts and means you can get it all done in 30 minutes in the morning rather than checking in all day. It also means you can work on social media in a real open way with the rest of your team. Has a freemium plan but isn’t hugely expensive if you want to go beyond that.
6. Click & Pledge - Online fundraiusing can always be easier right? It's something that is a common problem for our users and that's why Click & Pledge makes perfect sense. Cstomize and brand your fundraising campaigns with mobile-friendly donation forms, real-time receipts, and more. Embed them directly into your website, or use a standalone link.
7. Hubspot Sales - Don’t be put off by the title, Hubspot Sales gives great functionality for any teams that require a task board and email tracking. Build around ‘funnels’ of individuals, who can beimported (just with their email if necessary) into the CRM system. The idea is to move that person down the funnel to a stated goal such as getting a donation or becoming a supporter. It can be really useful for targeted efforts like donations, rather than for your voter database as a whole and can help your campaign team to focus on individuals. Task management, email tracking (did they open my email? How many times?) are all included and it connects to other softwares very easily. A lot of campaign teams are using this now but there needs to be a good return as it costs about $50 per person to use on a monthly basis.
8. Facebook - What to say? Facebook pages are essential for all campaigns. It is your face to the world for a lot of campaigns and the place where voters can interact with you. Facebook ads platform is incredibly good for targeted advertising also. If there is one social media to be involved with, it is FB. FB Live is a live-streaming service that can be used for ‘digital town-halls’, open meetings or just to drive engagement with voters on specific issues. It isn't going anywhere any time soon, that's for sure!
9. L2 - Running a successful campaign requires data, the best reputable way to get this is usually from a governement body but you can also purchase this information. L2 is probably one of the most commonly known organisations that provide this kind of service. Whether you are using an electoral register, party data file, or a purchased list, it is going to be your most important tool in terms of direct outreach to voters and in terms of understanding voters. We have a separate resource that outlines some common sources for data which you can access here.
10. Voter Circle - VoterCircle is a powerful and easy to use friend-to-friend outreach platform that enables your campaign team and supporters to leverage their personal relationships to benefit your campaign or organization. This is a nice tool for building your grassroots the way it should be done and for getting the best from your GOTV operations. They have a free version but also it can jump to $150 per month for some extra functionality.
**11. Anedot. Anedot is a great platform for managing donations easily. Fundraising is optimized with easy-to-use forms that embed on your website. Pricing is based on a percentage of what you raise so there are no initial costs.
12. Change.org- Change.org is a simple petition building tool that allows anyone, including campaigns, to sample the appetite for a particular issue or to gather support and connect with new audiences. Very simple to use, Change.org is something every campaign should take advantage of.
13. Twitter - Another one that needs no introduction. Build your social media capital on Twitter including an audience of followers. The ability to campaign with "just 280 characters" can be very powerful and allows you to react incredibly quickly to campaign events. It brings you closer to your electorate but needs to be carefully managed and tweets should be proofed before being sent. Free tool in monetary terms at least.
14. Instagram - Instagram has moved from the periphery to become one of the dominant social media channels. Instagram stories allow you to share short videos and it is a great way to connect with a younger audience if it is used correctly. We are huge fans of the platform here at Ecanvasser HQ because there is endless potential. It not only allows you to build confidence in front of the camera from their Story functionality but it also allows you to easily connect with issues and movements with tags similar to Twitter. Follow us here.
15. Whatsapp - Whether you like it or not, your campaign is already using Whatsapp. Experience tells us that field campaign teams use Whatsapp as a secondary communication tool. In many parts of the world, it is more important to capture Whatsapp contact info from voters for GOTV purposes as it is the main communication channel. It is important to consider it from the beginning and to set up Whatsapp groups as necessary rather than have it develop organically in the background in a way in which you don’t have any control over. Free and fully encrypted messaging and video messaging service.
16. Survey Monkey - Survey monkey is the best known online and email survey tool. A great way to get voter feedback and to build campaign intelligence without any great outlay. Surveys can be built very quickly and delivered by social media, website, email, even mobile. Shouldn’t cost more than €39 monthly.
17. Intercom - Intercom is one of those chat boxes you see on the bottom right of a website. It provides a simple Q&A interface with website visitors (ie, voters) and allows you to deliver information, images and other resources based on actions taken on your website. Having used this ourselves I can say it is the best online tool of the past few years.
18. Ecanvasser - Ah sure it’s us! Ecanvasser is a great way to get your team out in the field door knocking and capturing voter information. Voter mapping, surveys, issue tracking and a suite of analytics help you to understand what voters are thinking and organize your team. Also, means that you can connect your email blast functionality directly to your voter database and voter outreach for better email targeting. Tiered pricing makes it very affordable for local campaigns all the way up to national races. Starts at just €19 monthly including unlimited users.
**19. Tectonica. Our full-service website design and digital strategy studio that builds the online tools you need for a successful campaign. They create brands, plan winning digital strategies, and produce the communication and organizing tools needed for success.
**20. Nationbuilder The original political software. From a single dashboard, campaign managers can build profiles of supporters and activists who subscribe to their website or interact on Twitter, integrate that database with information from social media and electoral rolls, rally their base using emails, texts and voice calls, and organise canvassing according to target voters’ location.
Our top tip for running your campaign tech at less than $100per month? Bundle these guys together:
So there you have it, some surprises made it in, some more left out! If you have any suggestions about tools that made your campaign easier, let us know! We are always happy to update our list if you can make a good enough argument.