Political marketing: Comparing the signup process & first impressions of the candidate sites

Each candidate’s web site includes a way to get on their email list so you can get current news about your favorite Presidential candidate.

Today, I compare the sites from a “I’m here for the first time and I want to get news emailed to me” perspective, as well as give some first impressions of the site as I arrive to give them my email address.

Barack Obama : Acts like a squeeze page upon first visit, but only the first visit (ie: the site is paying attention so they don’t “bore you” with a squeeze page that you’ve already seen – smart). The squeeze page was nice and clean. Do this, or do this, no chance of distracting you with the “bright shiny object” and take you away from the goal of that page – to get your email.

After that initial visit, the squeeze page is not shown and you must choose to give them your email address. Low objection level to joining, it only asks for your first name and email address (ala aweber.com).

Because they aren’t asking for much info, they’re more likely to get email addresses. On the other hand, not having address info makes it tough to localize emails, meeting notices and perhaps most importantly, it makes GOTV and direct mail more difficult. It’s possible to get some of this info from some email addresses based on domain registration and reverse IP lookups.

Hillary Clinton : More traditional entry page, joining the mailing list occurs first. You’re asked for an email address and zip code. After adding your email to the list, you are taken to a page where they request your contact info and identification of priority issues. It remains to be seen if these issues will drive specific emails in the future.

One oddity about Clinton’s site: The main menu has a “States” drop down. Only the states with a caucus or primary are included. If I’m interested in what’s going on in my state and that state isn’t on her menu, what message does that send to me? The site has no search capability.

Regarding the email news signup process: Asking for all contact and priority issue information might put off some people, but it does allow them to tailor the email by issues. At the point where this ask occurs, they already have your email address and zip code. On the other hand, the site is unclear if you are volunteering (“join our team”) or just asking to get on their email list.

Clearly the latter is a goal, but for someone who just wants to be kept up to date, it might put off some people. Failing to ask for a name, or at least first name puts a damper on the ability to personalize future emails, at least until they get you to fill out the “Join the team” page with complete contact and issue info.

John McCain : Required zip code, then took me to a Team McCain signup form where they asked for complete contact info, important issues and areas where I might want to volunteer. Site includes a search capability.

Mitt Romney : Splash screen on first entry didn’t offer a place to enter an email. Options were an economic platform video, a contribute link or a button to skip to the site. I closed by browser after the first visit without clicking on anything, and like Obama’s site, a second visit skipped the splash screen and took me to the main site. Again, the server is paying attention. The main page includes a search feature, an oddity among candidate sites.

Oddly enough, there was no place on the main site to just enter an email address and get email updates. I had to dig around a bit to find an email-only option where I could get news without becoming a “Team Mitt” member, something I’m not doing on any of the candidate sites.

Ron Paul : Asked for first name, last name, zip and email. Upon completion, it went to a form asking for complete contact and issue information. No search capability. Paul’s “States” menu item included all 50 states.

All of the sites clearly understood the value of having an upsell on the thank you page. Upsell as in contribute, join our team or both.