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How to Use Digital Organizing to Win Campaigns in the Age of Coronavirus

Using innovative strategies like virtual door knocking helped us move the NO on 2A campaign 46 points (from 30% NO in 2019 to 76% NO in 2020).

In early 2020, we wrapped up the NO on 2A campaign down in Pueblo, Colorado. We were thrilled to be part of an all-star team that helped lead Pueblo in the right direction, and away from a risky and costly municipalization which would have hurt the city tremendously.

And it was a dramatic turnaround.

In March of 2019, just 30% of Pueblo voters opposed municipalization of the city's electric utility. But on Election Night in May 2020 we won 76% of the vote. That's a shift of 46 points!

What We Learned

NO on 2A taught us a great deal about what it is like to campaign in the age of coronavirus when traditional door-knocking and events are not available. Many campaign elements stayed the same:

  • Steve Welchert of The Welchert Company, managed the campaign brilliantly

  • Frederick Polls taught us what we needed to say, and what we needed to avoid

  • Strother-Nuckels Strategies produced an outstanding paid media campaign that dominated television and digital

  • The Tyson Organization did an excellent job on phones

  • JPM+M sent brilliant mail

Effct innovated quite a bit, especially on digital because we weren't able to knock on doors, and do traditional field organizing. One of the most innovative things we did was a state-of-the-art virtual door knock.

How to Do a Virtual Door Knock

The campaign purchased a list of 14,000 Puebloans' emails, and we segmented it by gender, age and political party.

Then we set up email addresses using a diverse group of well-known stakeholders in the community. We used local council members as well as a former District Attorney and a recognizable leader (with their permission of course)

We sent emails to our most avid supporters asking them to confirm that they wanted to receive a yard sign. This helped "warm up" our email addresses, which set us up for higher deliverability when we went to send to the larger list.

Now that our email addresses were warmed up, we sent casual yet on-message emails to highly segmented lists that matched the stakeholders demographics. The result? We got warm list results from a cold list.

On our first pass through, we initiated roughly 140 conversations with voters. That would be considered a great day on the doors.

We also trained volunteers to answer the replies. This kept them involved and passionate much in the same way volunteers knocking doors would.

By the end of the campaign, we'd earned a nearly 20% open rate and 1.4% click through rate, competitive with the rates political campaigns get with warm audiences.

We'll definitely be using this strategy more in the future along with more relational organizing techniques scaled through digital.

What's Next?

Are you interested in using a virtual door knock and other innovative digital organizing techniques in your campaign?

We have only a handful of spots remaining for this year for campaigns we can support on a holistic level, and those spots are going fast. So, don't wait.


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