Why you should treat your online marking like a political campaign

Why you should treat your online marking like a political campaign


The big vote is just a few days away…

It’s looking like a close race (if polls are to be believed – which they absolutely weren’t in the last UK election).

The Ins could win on the 23rd and keep us in Europe, bound to “the shackles of Brussels” (Boris Johnson).

Or the Outs could have it, and lock us into isolationism, nimbyism and the “fragmentation of the western world” (former foreign secretary William Hague).

More than anything, I’m getting ready for a barrage of angry emails from OUT voters when they read this email.

But before you email me your rage – or lengthy, reasoned arguments – please understand, today’s eletter is not a political statement.

Whether we remain in Europe or not, the aim of Digital Upstart is to help you improve your online marketing, build a qualified email list and a loyal audience of customers who believe in you, trust you and buy your products.

Because no matter what I think, or what will happen on the 23rd, I believe there is one battle that has been won by the Remain camp….

And that’s their website.

Why you should treat your online marketing like a political campaign

One of the best ways you can improve your business is to look at the online activities of passionate political and social campaigns.

The rival campaigns couldn’t be any more relevant or highly charged, and the stakes could not be higher.

These sorts of sites are strident in their goals, ambitions and call-to-action (the bit where you turn passing traffic into something more engaged).

They are designed to grab the attention of people who have deep, passionate beliefs, then convert them into members of the campaign.

The ultimate goal is to get them to vote.

In the same way as you have to take a casual website visitor on a journey towards handing over their money for your goods or services.

So you should treat your online business like a passionate political or social campaign.

It doesn’t matter whether you sell wedding accessories, blog about cycling or run a wine shop.

The whole point of your website is to:

  • Make it clear why YOU are the best choice for information, advice and products. Stand out against the opposition and be different.
  • Communicate your passion, beliefs and goals, so that you come across as someone credible and worth following.
  • Show how your potential customer can have a better life through what you are offering (more fun, higher confidence, better health, happier relationships, less pain, more money).
  • Share your vision for a world, or express a clear cause, in which your products and services genuinely help wider society, not just your own bank account.

If you can do that, you’ll build a following of like-minded people who share those passions, who believe in your cause, and see you as authentic and credible.

So let’s see how the IN versus OUT approach this on their campaign website, and how you can adapt their principles for your own website.

By the way, I’m looking at these websites “above the fold” – which means I’m running an analysis on what most causal visitors would see on their screen before they start scrolling down.

It’s all about that first hit of communication.

Here’s Better Stronger In Europe’s site.

Benefits and Human Interest – the IN campaign

Why you should treat your online marking like a political campaign

  • As you can see, there’s a benefit in the banner “Britain stronger in Europe”. This is repeated with more detail in the headline “Britain is stronger, safer and better off in Europe than we could be out on our own.”
  • A classic direct marketing truth is that people are driven by deep fears and desires. This headline tackles both fear (we’ll be safer) and desire (we’ll be better off).
  • The headline is on the top left, which is the first place the eye goes to when scanning a webpage, therefore getting the main message across as soon as possible. This corresponds to what is known as the Gutenberg diagram:

Why you should treat your online marking like a political campaign

  • There’s an email data capture right next to the headline, on the second most visible part of the page (the eye scans from left to right). The call to action button (“sign up”) is in red as a stark contrast to all the blue and white around it.
  • In the ‘weak fallow area’ is video that shows a woman with her child and has a headline on it: ‘Brexit and Your Family’. Human faces raise levels of attraction, memorability and trust. One study by the Georgia Institute of Technology looked at 1.1 million photos on Instagram and found that pictures with human faces are 38 percent more likely to receive likes than photos with no faces.
  • The woman and child also suggest there’s a human interest story. Stories are far more powerful ways of selling an idea than dry analytical facts, stats and diagrams. Stories activate areas of the brain that inspire sympathy and emotional connection in the viewer or listener. They link human stories to their own experiences. What’s more, they get a rush of dopamine that gives them a deep feeling of reward when hearing a story, which makes it more pleasurable and memorable.
  • To the right of the video there’s another set of bullets with benefits of staying in (better economy, better leadership).

Okay, so let’s turn to the Vote Leave website…

Stats and alarm

Why you should treat your online marking like a political campaign

Why you should treat your online marking like a political campaign

  • First off, there’s no core “Vote Leave” banner that expresses any kind of benefit or emotional pay off.
  • They have a statistic about money that goes to the EU, with rolling details of what that could pay for. Good idea, but it’s a bullet point, not a main headline. It doesn’t tap into fears or desires. It’s far more intellectual than emotional.
  • The call to action buttons for the email data capture and social media “sign up now”, “join the campaign” – are all in red, just like the headline and general colour of the site. Better to have one call to action standing out.
  • The video shows a crowd of people, which is always less effective than showing one person. We respond emotionally to faces. And the headline in the video is “You can’t trust David Cameron on Immigration”, which is a negative statement, rather than a headline which suggests a story, or how it might impact the viewer.

Now, ultimately, if the OUTS win the day, you might tell me that my assessment was wrong.

Of course I don’t believe the EU Referendum campaign will be won because of a webpage design.

However, I do believe that the IN campaign is one that tries a lot harder to get its claws into the emotions of the visitors, and get across clear benefits.

The messages you can take from both is this:

  • Give your business a clear goal, a manifesto, a purpose for existing. It’s much more powerful than simply existing for the purpose of making you money.
  • Don’t be afraid to take sides, express a belief, and have an attitude that’s different to your rivals. This is how you stand out, and come across as passionate and human.

Really, this is why I have been prepared to wade into the EU Referendum storm today.

I know it will stir up emotions, opinions and outrage.

But hopefully this will get across how important emotions are when it comes to your online success – they drive your potential customers to take action!

That’s it from me.

I’m off to by a tin hat and wait by my inbox.

This article first appeared on Digital Upstart. Read more and comment here