When we started our partnership with John James in 2017, he had a great story and an unmatched work ethic. Over the course of three years we built one of the most powerful digital fundraising operations in the country on the back of consistent, vibrant, and relentless messaging that drove a sharp omni-channel marketing strategy.
Donors and potential voters were naturally attracted to John as a candidate. He is a West Point graduate, U.S. Army veteran, and businessman whose family has gone from slave to sharecropper to knocking on the door of the Senate in only four generations — the living embodiment of the American Dream. We knew that if we could successfully translate his message and backstory into compelling digital content, people would jump at the chance to support John.
And that’s exactly what we did — over two election cycles, John James stole headlines and came within a hair’s breadth of being the GOP’s only Senate pickup of 2020.
How we did it
We packaged John James' story and message into effective email, SMS, and advertising creative that consistently and effectively acquired email signups and spurred donations. Using these tactics, we grew our email house file by over 200,000 users, and added 100,00 phone numbers to our SMS list over the course of a single election.
Our social media ad creative leveraged John’s unique bio, his frequent Fox News appearances, new polling data, and face-to-camera videos in order to convert donors and acquire leads. We mixed issue and biographical creative with topical content focused on the media hits and recent polls in order to keep our content rotation fresh.
The approach we took to our revshare creative was a little bit different — we focused on introducing potential donors to John through long-form content focused on his military background, his business experience, and his family story. Almost every single email was from John himself, and we place the emphasis squarely on his personal story. We used imagery from John’s past to add life to our content and made sure potential donors felt like they knew who John was as a candidate and person.
For SMS prospecting, we relied on new polling information and breaking news to acquire new leads and donors.
Once leads were in our house file, we engaged them with petitions, surveys, campaign trail updates, news hits, and donation asks. We fed them a healthy mix of engaging content focused on actions other than donations, and then asked for their financial support.
Our creative mix was designed to convert donors multiple times after their initial donation, and we succeeded — donors averaged six unique donations to John throughout the course of both the 2018 and 2020 cycles.
We also employed a persuasion advertising campaign on social media that sought to amplify positive news about John, and ultimately drive voters to the polls as Election Day got closer. We used face to camera videos, GIFs, and static ads to push voter turnout and alert people to their polling locations and their hours.
Our ability to successfully package John’s incredible story and message into a compelling digital narrative allowed us to build a passionate house file that consistently delivered donations, volunteers, and social media actions for John, again and again.
WE GOT RESULTS
In 2020, we raised over $7.1 million online through more than 159,000 individual donations.
What we learned
Take time to build out quality long-form content and steady engagement with your donors. If you invest in your donors, they will invest in you. Stay true to your message — a consistent message creates consistent donors.
Your audience will give, give, and then give again, if they feel like they truly know your candidate.
Fine print for the nerds:
From June 2019 to the end of 2020, we grew our email house file by 216,554 users and our SMS house file by 107,987.
On average, each donor gave to John James six times over the course of the 2018 and 2020 cycles, and the average lifetime value of each donor was over $370. And nearly 14k of the donors who gave to John in 2018 gave to him again in 2020.