Cover Story: Political Direct Marketing 2004
In June alone, JohnKerry.com raised $12.1 million, with an average contribution of $99. According to Eiring, of the more than 1 million opt-in e-mail subscribers, 45 percent eventually become active donors. Even those members who don’t ante up the greenbacks are valuable to the Kerry camp, simply because they’re plugged in.
“Some of the support we are receiving online is not necessarily financial in nature. Our [members] get out their e-mails to neighbors and friends to spread the message as to why they support John Kerry,” says Eiring, former deputy development director at Emily’s List, the nation’s largest grassroots-political network dedicated to electing pro-choice Democratic women to office. “We understand the importance of building our e-mail list, because come November, we need to reach out to everyone as quickly as possible to relay our message and get them to vote.”
It was Dean who first showed political fundraisers that the more you ask of your online supporters, the more they will do, affirms Danny Rose, director of Internet operations for 21st Century Democrats, a political action committee dedicated to supporting progressive political candidates.
“Online [political] fundraising isn’t just asking people for money, but giving them ways to get involved and feel like they’re making a difference, like they are personally connected to the candidate,” says Rose, a former field organizer for Dean’s presidential campaign and a founding member of D.C. for Dean, a grassroots organization.
Currently, 21st Century Democrats is fetching close to the industry average of $100 online, while direct mail is drawing close to $30, and Rose says the recent e-phenomenon in the political world is based on organizations’ efforts to build relationships with supporters by engaging them with timely information — another lesson learned from Dean.
“Mass-advertising time is getting more expensive, and it’s getting harder to reach people with it,” says Laurie Moskowitz, a principal at FieldWorks, a Washington, D.C.-based political consulting firm specializing in grassroots organizing and field strategies. “Towards the end [of the election], when all you see is wall-to-wall commercials, it doesn’t gain a candidate that much marginal impact to run a spot. Candidates need to find other ways of reaching people.”