By Scott Porter
Wow, check out Ron Paul's Internet Marketing campaign!
Without doubt, Ron Paul's success on the Internet is nothing short of amazing. His team's approach has been ground breaking in the way they've applied Internet Marketing techniques, not only to reach potential supporters, but to attract a significant number of contributors.
Although not currently one of the frontrunners, Ron Paul is now being called an "Internet Phenomenon" by many political strategists.
While the Internet Marketing strategies being used by Ron Paul's team are not necessarily unique, the dedication his team has shown in reaching potential supporters online has been outstanding. By deploying a very aggressive Internet Marketing campaign, Ron Paul's team has attracted a flood of contributors and a huge number of avid supporters.
In a very short period of time, Ron Paul's team has developed an enormous Internet presence. In fact, anyone who's been online in the past six months has certainly seen multiple references to Ron Paul on the news or social media sites.
If you consider the raw numbers, Ron Paul's Internet Marketing strategy leaves his competition in the dust - and it's a big reason he's still in the race:
Consider the facts ...
· Last month, Ron Paul's site had well over a MILLION visitors, more than all other Republican candidates combined!
· In one day, Ron Paul's team raised over $6 Million dollars on the internet.
· They raised approximately $20 Million Dollars in the 4th quarter of 2007 alone.
· On YouTube, there are 109,000 videos currently available about him.
· And in the past month there have been over 89,000 blog posts about him, according to Google.
The bottom line ... Ron Paul's focus on Internet Marketing is changing the face of political campaign strategies.
Ron Paul is not the only candidate making use of the Internet ... on the other side of the aisle, Barack Obama's team has deployed a very well designed Internet Marketing strategy - over 728,00 visitors last month - and has been very effective in reaching potential supporters and contributors in his own right.
An Objective View
My analysis of Ron Paul's internet success is purely driven by curiosity; I have no political affiliation or opinion of Ron Paul's political platform.
What intrigues me about Ron Paul's Internet strategy is not only the response he's received (over a Million visitors last month), it's the number of contributors he's attracted and the dedicated constituency he's built on the Internet. With a major part of his communications being conveyed via the Internet, Ron Paul's campaign team has demonstrated beyond any doubt that Internet Marketing is a formidable tool in building a successful political campaign strategy.
Perhaps the Ron Paul campaign chose to focus more on Internet strategies and less on other media simply due to budget constraints. Whatever the reason, their decision to use the Internet as an integral part of their campaign strategy is undoubtedly a big reason he's still in the race.
This is not the first time we've seen a candidate deploy an Internet Marketing strategy as a part of a political campaign strategy - but it may be the first major campaign that has used the Internet as a primary part of their campaign strategy.
So, what does this say about future political campaigns and the tactics that will be developed to exploit the enormous potential of the Internet?
Political campaign teams can be very creative in developing marketing methods and I have no doubt we will learn a great deal concerning Internet Marketing by watching the successful political campaigns.
If 'necessity is the mother of invention', then the Internet Marketing strategies being developed by political campaign teams like Ron Paul's will no doubt be leveraged by other organizations to help build their own visibility and success.
Ron Paul's Internet Strategy
So, what does Ron Paul's team do differently?
The short answer lies not in what his team does, as much as it does with how his team 'works' their strategy.
First, the Internet Marketing strategy Ron Paul's team has implemented focuses on some very basic Search Engine Marketing tactics:
· Website optimization,
· Compelling content,
· Intuitive site navigation,
· Social Media,
· Press Releases,
· RSS feeds
· Email Marketing, Newsletters, & Breaking News
Pretty straight forward, right? No real surprises here with the exception that Ron Paul's team does not really use of PPC strategies to any great extent.
The real difference lies is the way Ron Paul's team implements their tactics, especially when compared to other Presidential contenders' strategies.
The body of the site contains very compelling content that is easy to find and leads you to endless amounts of interesting information concerning Ron Paul.
Maybe the most obvious difference is Ron Paul's site is constantly being updated and changed; the team adds new information daily and continually works to improve their Search Engine visibility using well attended blogs, Press Releases, and Social Media.
Web Site Optimization
Overall, the Ron Paul team has deployed a very solid website in a short period of time. Not that every part of the site is perfect, but the good points far outweigh the bad. In fact, with just a few slight changes, the Ron Paul website could serve as a great model for other political candidates.
One somewhat insignificant difference, but one that I personally like about Ron Paul's website, is that his team does not use an annoying Splash page as many other candidates do.
I know splash pages look good to the website owner, but they're almost always a waste of time since most people just want to get to what they came to the site to see - in this case, information about Ron Paul!
The 'home' page Ron Paul's team has designed is very intuitive and easy to navigate. They've placed breaking news, volunteer sign up, Blog access, and an excellent menu of choices that covers everything from Ron Paul's position on the major issues to videos and recordings of his major appearances.
Looking at the foundation of the website, Meta Title tags are the same for all pages. Concerning the Meta Descriptions, they're also identical across all the pages of the website, so the Search Engines choose their own descriptions to display with the Ron Paul listing. Not recommended, but it probably causes no real harm in this case.
Looking deeper, the site could use some fine tuning, adding Alt tag descriptions that contain more keywords would help; as well as adding unique Meta Descriptions for each page.
Links into the page are almost non-existent and I would recommend adding a number of related, quality inbound links to the site. It couldn't hurt and would probably drive even more traffic to the website and/or Blog.
The site could also use some additional keyword research to help Ron Paul key in on the potential voters who are not familiar with him, and to present his message to more of them.
The Ron Paul interactive videos on top of the 'Issues' page are a great addition. It seems to me if more detail were added concerning Ron Paul's stance on the issues, it would be a more valuable contribution to the site.
Although there are some obvious opportunities for improvement; given the website's presentation, the information available, and ease of use, I give Ron Paul's team very good marks in the SEO category.
Social Media Strategies
Ron Paul's team's approach to social media marketing has made him a Republican powerhouse. His campaign team understands social media and knows how to use it.
From photos and videos to networking, Ron Paul can be found across the Internet.
Most candidates' teams have begun to use social media sites but most of them don't seem to be very active on them. Ron Paul's team excels
here because they are very active - they make continuous updates on his social media profiles all hours of the day.
Increasingly, as new generations enter the voting ranks, social media is becoming an indispensable part of successful political campaigns. The current generation of younger voters has grown up using the Internet as their primary means of communication. It's second nature for them to use the Internet to gain and share information.
Currently on MySpace, Ron Paul shows over 273,000 friends, Facebook shows over 205,000, and YouTube has over 109,000 videos under his name.
On the Ron Paul Blog, links to submit posts to Digg, StumbleUpon, Delicious and others are available. Also helpful, is the RSS feed button that's displayed in the upper part of the left column. Having an RSS feed signup on the blog helps to promote the blog even further in the social media outlets.
When you look at the popularity of Ron Paul on the social media sites and compare the other candidates to him, he is definitely using the social networks more than other candidates to promote his grassroots efforts.
Ron Paul has a very active Blog. His team consistently posts new information and breaking news all hours of the day. The Ron Paul team knows they have a very active and captive audience on the blog and they actively cater to them.
There's an RSS button to easily subscribe to blog updates and links to YouTube and other social media are scattered throughout the page to promote Blog entries.
Overall, Ron Paul's campaign team has done an outstanding job developing and deploying a very effective Internet Marketing strategy.
Internet Marketing is quickly becoming an integral part of nearly every political campaign.
Increasingly, the Internet is becoming a news and recruiting source that is irreplaceable in major political campaigns.
Pressed for campaign funds, both Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul have used the Internet as a very cost effective way to get their message across to potential contributors and voters.
Without their efforts on the Internet, it could be argued that very few people would have ever heard of either candidate. While both candidates are underdogs, they probably would not even still be in the race without their well orchestrated Internet Marketing campaigns.
How much of Ron Paul's or Mike Huckabee's success is due to their Internet Marketing efforts? There's no doubt Internet viewers looking for information concerning these candidates have had no problem finding it on the Internet.
The real question is how many potential voters will actually be affected by the Internet Marketing they come into contact with? Judging from over a Million visitors to Ron Paul's website and the amount of contributors he's been able to inspire, there can be no doubt many potential voters have been directly affected by the Internet Marketing strategy his team has deployed.
It's now clear Political Internet Marketing is a very effective campaign tool and will continue to be an increasingly important part of successful political campaigns well into the future.
By Scott Porter
2008 All Rights Reserved
About The Author
Scott Porter is President of MarketBuilders, a full service Internet Marketing firm. MarketBuilders uses targeted Internet advertising, top search results, sponsored advertising, Email marketing, Blogs, social media, Press Releases, copy writing, link building and optimized website design to provide businesses a significant competitive advantage on the Internet.
Scott Porter has B.S. and M.S. degrees in Marketing & Information Systems, and has over twenty years experience working with Fortune 100 firms to develop and promote marketing and information systems strategies.
by Scott Porter
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