Barack Obama Takes You To Tax Marketing School?

Today I'm going to share with you where Barack Obama is dominating.

It might surprise you, especially from someone who doesn't agree with many of his policies (me).

And now back to how President Obama rules -- even with a tepid speech at the convention (and a hat-tip to my friend, Robert Skrob, of the Information Marketing Association for a few of these ideas) ...

In 2007-8, Barack Obama's campaign took Hillary Clinton to internet marketing school.

After he won the nomination, not even Sarah Palin could help John McCain slow down the Barack Obama online machine. And what's interesting is the Obama campaign didn't create anything new; they simply incorporated the fundamentals of  smart marketing into his online political campaign.

First, a disclaimer. Before you interpret this breakdown of marketing techniques as a love letter to Barack Obama, you need to know I don't agree with the president. I was pretty put off by his "You didn't build that" comments, and I don't see how  it was a misunderstanding. (His full, unedited remarks were even more revealing.) And don't get me started on how someone could have the gall to label Congressman Ryan's budget "irresponsible" when his own proposal overspends revenues by $4 trillion.

While I'm not planning to vote for him, Barack Obama's campaign is extremely instructive from a marketing standpoint. In fact, you could put the two campaign efforts side-by-side with a big "DO" over the Obama campaign's site and a big "DON'T" over the Romney campaign's site.

There's a lot to learn by studying Obama's campaign regardless of who you plan to support in the election. One of the greatest challenges of any website is that as many as 85 percent of your visitors come to your site once and never again. Since few first-time visitors enroll with your services, that's a lot of wasted traffic that will never generate business for you.

It's the same with campaign websites, and this is where there is an important difference between the two campaigns. Visiting Obama's site, www.BarackObama.com, takes you to a landing page that prompts you for your email address and ZIP code. This page alone completely changes the economics of a website. By prompting each visitor to provide an email address before continuing into the site, the Obama campaign is able to follow up with visitors via email. While no site gets 100 percent of its visitors to provide email addresses, a landing page like Obama's -- or a clearly-stated reason on your main page for your visitors to give you their email address -- will enable you to follow up with the most interested visitors.

The Barack Obama campaign is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to drive visitors to its website. It's instructive for anyone marketing on the internet to see how the campaign has employed a landing page to capture email addresses, even before asking for contributions. More about that in a moment.

There are two fascinating innovations in the 2012 campaign that speak loudly to the nature of the internet and people in general: the new sweepstakes and the grassroots mobilization. If you want to have a sweepstakes to give away a vacation package, you have to include pages of legal disclaimers, and heaven help you if you require the customer to buy something to enter. Political campaigns have always been free from those obligations, but it's interesting that the Barack Obama campaign is the first to really embrace it. The Barack Obama campaign has increased fund-raising by offering sweepstakes to supporters who make contributions.

A recent promotion featured dinner with Barack and Michelle. Although these offers have a low actual cost to the campaign, they have a high perceived value to supporters, generating significant contributions. Could you raffle away opportunities to vacation with you? Or, perhaps instead have a free annual consult every year for 10 years?

The campaign further leverages its sweepstakes programs by posting photos of the winners on its site and pushing out the photos and stories via email to supporters. Essentially, they are recreating the commercials that feature the guy with a fistful of balloons knocking on your door to announce you are the winner of the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes. These stories make the President look more like a "regular guy" when a lot of the poll data indicates that voters think he acts "aloof." Plus, it tells readers that these prizes are actually awarded, increasing desire for the next one.

And there is one thing that's so important that I cannot end this without mentioning it. It's a fundamental shift in thinking the Obama campaign has learned about internet marketing that the Romney people obviously haven't figured out yet. The money is in the follow-up. The majority of the contributions will come from responses to email messages in the days and weeks after the first visit to the site.

What does this mean for you? The vast majority of your sales will come through email follow-up to your website visitors in the days and weeks after the first visit. In most internet sites which actually work and  form the backbone of a real business, the follow-up sales equal three times the initial sales.

For example, if you have 100 visitors and five of them choose to call you on their first visit, that's nice; you've got 5 percent of your website visitors enrolling your services. But if you send follow-up messages over the next several days and weeks to the 95 percent who didn't buy, you can convert another 15 percent into clients, usually over the following three weeks. (Yes, that's simple but you'd be amazed at how few really take the time to actually write the follow-up messages and implement this "secret.")

So, you are following up with your website visitors with an auto responder email sequence, aren't you? (If not, here's an idea for you: www.StartEmailingNow.com) Writing those messages is a science unto itself, but case studies of happy clients is a good place to start. Of course, for the Obama campaign, the token contribution from the email follow-up is just the beginning. If they can get someone to contribute even just $5.00, then they can capture their full contact information including a phone number that generates a warm lead for their phone room to maximize the value of that contributor.

How can you apply a similar strategy? Create a simple, "low-bar" way for your prospects to call you -- plus follow-up, and then offer that client abundant opportunities to upgrade into other services (tax planning, financial planning, audit protection, etc.).

Although I hope Obama loses, I admire the machine he has created to maximize the value of every contributor who visits his site. Get over to your laptop, and study the campaigns. You'll be a better informed voter, and you'll learn a lot about the latest innovations in creating websites that generate money.

Oh, and one last thing: I have hosted a few webinars lately, and we're doing it again. This weekend, and next week, you can register for a webinar which breaks down how to really win with your online marketing and get ready
for tax season.

Register here --> www.TaxWebsiteWebinar.com

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