Cover Story: Political Direct Marketing 2004
At first, some Kerry aides reportedly resisted raising money through the Internet, but Dean’s unprecedented success could not be ignored.
The Dean factor
The campaign of Dean for America, Inc. raised about 50 percent of its $41 million through the Internet, propelling him — at least for a brief moment — to the front of the pack in the Democratic race for the White House.
While partnering with Internet software and services firm Convio, the Dean camp created an ongoing dialogue with constituents through online surveys, polls and petitions, as well as online forums — Web logs, also known as blogs — to allow constituents to voice their opinions, make suggestions and communicate with other supporters.
Dean blasted out e-mail communications on a near-daily basis asking members to sign time-sensitive petitions and forward messages to friends and family members. Dean continually challenged supporters to participate in specific drives by setting up online initiatives with firm deadlines and goals.
In all, Dean engaged roughly 650,000 supporters online, drawing an average of 430,000 unique daily Web site visits. The entire cost of his Internet campaign totaled about $1 million, which means it raised about a dollar for every nickel spent on fundraising. For Kerry’s efforts, the cost of Internet fundraising amounts to only three cents of every dollar raised.
The inclusion of Kerry’s Web address in his Iowa victory speech proved to be a turning point for the campaign’s Internet fundraising initiatives and overall online presence, as evidenced by the unprecedented $2.6 million raised in just one day, two days following Super Tuesday.
But once the Democratic party made it clear that Kerry would be its standard bearer against President Bush on Nov. 2, the campaign’s online fundraising efforts really intensified. Kerry launched a drive to raise $10 million in ten days and kick-started a steady stream of e-mail appeals from party superstars such as New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Bill Clinton and James Carville. E-mails also came to inboxes signed by Kerry campaign staff: Mary Beth Cahill, campaign manager; John Ross, of the IT department; and Eiring herself — to give messages a more personal feel.