Watching the US presidential coverage on the news always provides
entertainment, especially considering how intense the democratic
nomination was. While watching one of these segments they mentioned
that Barack Obama had raised 100% of his campaign funding through
He has not accepted any campaign contributions from large companies
or lobbyists. Instead, Barack Obama’s campaign has been one of
the most profitable in history, with the majority of campaign
contributions made online through over a million small contributions.
In fact, Barack Obama has raised nearly $200 million online, with a record $55 million raised in February alone, or nearly $2 million per day.
That hit my button.
It was a Saturday night and I immediately jumped on my laptop and brought up www.barackobama.com.
The next hour was just spent in admiration of the level of detail and
expertise implemented by Barack Obama’s online marketing team.
When you know what to look for in a good website and marketing
campaign, you can really start to appreciate the level of skill behind
his entire online marketing strategy.
Although there are way too many positive elements to cover in this
article, here are 6 major strategies which really make the Barack Obama
online marketing campaign a raging success:
1. The First Time You Visit Your Site You Are Asked To Join His Mailing List
Before you can view any part of Obama’s site you are taken to a page where you are asked for your name and address:
Notice how he makes it very easy to subscribe, only asking for your
email address and zip code. Also notice that the main call to action
button ‘learn more’ is in red. This is done to attract the
eye to the primary action that he wants you to take on this page.
Importantly, you do not have to subscribe to view the rest of his
website, you can simply click on ‘skip signup’ to visit the
main website – but this is not the focus.
Of course I entered my details in to see what happened, and was taken to this page:
What’s impressive is the wording they use, such as ‘Join
the movement’ and ‘this campaign is about you’. They
are giving you reasons why you should fill out the form.
So the first step was a small yes, just email and zip code. The next
step is to enter your full name, address and phone number. If all of
this information was asked of you on the first page, the response would
be much lower. Remember, getting people to say ‘yes’ on a
higher number of small commitments is better than asking them to say
‘yes’ on one large commitment.
After you enter your details you are taken to this page:
There are 3 main actions he wants you to take on the ‘thank
you’ page. The most important, as we can tell from the red
button, is to ‘donate now’ (which I will cover shortly).
The others are to register to vote and to visit the home page. Every
image on the page is a link, ensuring that a visitor will be taken to a
different page no matter what they click. The site makes it very easy
Of course, once you subscribe you will start to receive high value
emails from him driving you back to his website to take action.
2. Every Web Page Furthers the Primary Action to ‘Donate Now’
No matter what page you are visiting on the Barack Obama website,
the red ‘donate now’ button draws your attention. It is
essentially the only red image on a blue, grey and white website, which
is a very subtle, yet powerful method of encouraging people to take the
When you click on the ‘donate now’ button you are taken to the following page:
This is a landing page designed to compel the visitor to donate to
the Obama campaign. When you visit the page a very short video
automatically starts playing, with very relevant information which
explains WHY you should donate to his campaign.
By giving options for the donation amount, it makes it easy for
people to make a decision on how much to donate. The website also
pre-populates the fields with the information you entered on the
previous page so that only minimum additional action is required of the
person making the donation. The main call to action button is a red
graphic, bringing attention to the action he wants you to take. Again,
you have a ‘skip donation’ link at the top of the page in
case you do not want to make a donation at the time.
The online donation process is by far his most valuable ‘sales’ system on the website.
3. Excellent Information Architecture
The way that the information is laid out and presented makes it easy
to use and, more importantly, to scan. Website visitors have the
shortest attention span of any mode of communication, quickly jumping
between pages and leaving sites where they cannot quickly find what
they are looking for.
When you visit the Barack Obama home page, the information draws you
in. You can quickly find what you are looking for, and it is easy to
take action to learn more:
A subscription box is included at the top right hand side of the
page, to join the mailing list, and a picture of Barack Obama and
inspiring quote is included to build instant credibility. Of course,
the ‘donate now’ button is visible immediately, as well as
additional actions which he wants you to take. All this happens BEFORE
you start scrolling down the page.
The main ‘banner’ of the page rotates the main messages
and actions of the day. An eye catching banner is used with a strong
headline and a clear call-to-action ‘learn more’ to
encourage visitors to visit the landing page. Each banner links to a
different targeted landing page, ensuring maximum response on every
click taken, such as:
“Fight The Smears” Campaign:
And ‘Supporting The Open Convention’ campaign:
Every call-to-action on the site leads to a landing page which is setup to convert.
4. A Blog Is Used To Communicate Messages
Posts are added to the blog multiple times per day to communicate
with supporters on a daily basis as well as providing a channel for
supporters who only consume news through RSS aggregator software such
as Feeddemon or Bloglines.
Blogs are one of the best methods of communicating and building
relationships with people, and Obama is using is very effectively.
He is also taking advantage of Web 2.0 websites within his blog posts, such as Flickr, the photo sharing site:
And YouTube, the video sharing site:
Notice the integration of social bookmarking ‘quick links’ at the bottom of every blog post.
5. Social Networking Is Used To Maximise Exposure
One of the most impressive elements of Obama’s online
marketing campaign is the reach achieved through social networking,
which is one of the fastest growing and far reaching methods of online
exposure available today.
If you scroll down to the bottom of Obama’s site you will see the following:
Barack Obama has an account with every high traffic social
networking site on the Internet. More importantly, each of those
accounts listed above are very active and drive traffic to the main
website. This type of strategy is not for the faint hearted, and
requires a significant amount of management to achieve the levels of
success achieved by Barack Obama.
Not only does Barack Obama actively participate in all of the
largest social networks online, but he owns his own social network,
where supporters can ‘network’ with other supporters:
Of course I joined to see what it is all about:
Giving supporters a voice on his website is a masterstroke.
6. Mobile Marketing Is Used To Further His Message
Barack Obama includes a mobile subscription section on his website where you can join his SMS mailing list:
This links to the following landing page:
Notice how you can select the SMS updates you want to receive. That
way, you can keep up with the latest updates on the topics which matter
The best part about mobile marketing is that the deliverability is
nearly 100%, that is, everybody opens a text message when they receive
If you have ever wondered what a perfect online marketing campaign
looks like, just look at the Barack Obama campaign. Their online
marketing team are implementing every online marketing strategy
available, including social networking, search engine optimisation, pay
per click advertising, email marketing, mobile marketing and a number
of other strategies. Not only that, but their implementation is
The cost of running an online marketing campaign like Barack
Obama’s would be outside of the budget and resources of most
companies, but we can learn a lot about any particular strategy which
we are thinking about implementing.
For example, if you are looking at ways to improve your
website’s conversion rate, look at how the Obama website is
designed. If you are looking at ways to implement social networking,
check out the profile pages on MySpace or Facebook.
Start thinking about how you can implement what I have just spoken
about in this article on your own website and online marketing campaign.