(Note: WideNet is a non-partisan company and takes no official stance on political elections. This blog is an objective look at how data and digital marketing helped the Trump campaign win the 2016 election. It is not meant to endorse, support, or promote the agenda, policies, and beliefs of any political party or candidate.)
In the early morning hours of November 9th, Democratic voters across the country were left scratching their heads. Every major poll pointed to Hillary Clinton winning the election. Even data-guru Nate Silver had her taking the White House by a comfortable margin. So what happened?
For weeks now, blogs, news sites, and pundits have weighed in on Trump's surprise victory. But regardless of the emotions and politics surrounding the election, Donald Trump won because of one reason: Data and Digital Marketing.
More specifically, rather than trying to appeal broadly to the whole nation, the Trump campaign made good use of data and digital marketing to target a highly personal message to a very specific audience. And that audience was exactly whom they needed to win over.
In a recent NPR interview, Brad Parscale, Digital Director for the Trump campaign, explained how this worked:
We never fought for the popular vote. There was no economic reason, and there was no reason based off the system of our constitution to do so. We needed to win 270 [electoral votes], and to do so we needed to win in certain states, and we needed to target registered voters that had a low propensity to vote and a propensity to vote for Donald Trump if they come.
This was actually a very progressive campaign strategy and could very well set a precedent for the future. So let's break it down and talk about how this very same strategy can help your business in 2017.
Trump's Data Plan
Early in the election, Parscale's digital campaign was written off as "amateurish and comically bad" (similar to the criticisms thrown at digital marketing back in the day). But this "Moneyball" strategy ended up being pretty brilliant.
As Parscale said in the quote above, the Trump campaign never tried to appeal to all Americans, just the *right* Americans. It was less about the actual content and more about who consumed the content.
Through the use of available voter and demographic data, Parscale took full advantage of the electoral system and focused on the exact audience he needed to reach in order to win: registered voters in certain swing states that haven't voted in recent elections (low propensity) but would likely vote for Trump if they came to the polls.
From there, the campaign continued to monitor the effectiveness of their messaging in various locations to determine whether or not they were able to pull these voters into their camp and then adjust where necessary.
One important thing to note is that in many of these targeted areas, the Trump campaign opted to remain digital instead of opening actual field offices. While this was lambasted by critics, it actually played to Trump's favor. If the campaign noticed better results in one location over another, they could shift budgets, efforts, and messaging to those areas within a matter of hours.
Ultimately, this strategy is what helped push Trump over the finish line and clench the election. And while the rest of the country either celebrates or mourns the outcome, those of us in the digital marketing world are taking note because, for many of us, this election was a major confirmation of the shape of things to come in 2017.
Hyper Personalization and Your Business
The Trump campaign's digital strategy is a part of a much larger marketing trend that we're going to see take hold in 2017--using in-depth (often complex) data to reach a very specific audience with an exceptionally high buying probability.
And not just any data either, but particular data points. We're going to move away from impressions, clicks, and reach and focus on more conversions, behavior, and engagement. We'll also see a lot more account based strategies. Simply put, marketing in 2017 will exemplify the most extreme version of quality over quantity to date: hyper personalization.
The digital world has been building to this for years, but it's finally coming to a head. People like personalized messaging, because it makes them feel as if you're actually speaking to their wants, needs, and interests. It shows you've done the research; it shows you care.