Despite Big Data, Keep An Eye On Individual

Major campaigns now have (or claim to have) any number of “big data” capabilities, from digital voter files to extensive email lists and targeted digital advertising using third party data. Collecting data is valuable and necessary to campaign efforts, but after collection comes action.  

One of the most powerful tools for data is A/B testing. From individual buttons to creative, content, and even entire websites, it’s an effectively scalable way to determine what works. Just using something like A/B testing, however, is not enough. It’s important to then ask why something works – why a particular piece of content appeals to a user or a group of users, for example, or what the users that responded well to a particular test have in common.

But that’s where some A/B testing maxes out; much of it doesn’t allow analysis or testing on such a granular level, especially across a variety of user segments. That changes, however, upon integration with a Data Management Platform (DMP) with a robust library of user and audience information. Campaigns with DMP-powered A/B testing at their core come prepared to identify and message the litany of smaller potential audiences that exist in colossal groups like a general electorate.

To put it simply, it’s 2014 – it is time to stop identifying people with primitive criteria like “mobile user.”

We now have the capability to start conversations with people based upon what matters to them. It’s infinitely more sophisticated, but it’s also more identifiable. Where it was once the case that broad conclusions about people had to be drawn from technical stats like browsers and keywords, using audience segments enables campaigns to deliver personally compelling content to the average person. While the work of identifying and segmenting audiences is ongoing, it’s possible to create testable content for every audience as soon as they’re identified to a campaign. Identifying and targeting small groups of people with content tailored to their individual needs provides the best experience for a user; segmented content should accompany segmented audiences. 

This is where many campaigns have struggled, as coming up with multiple versions of content tailored for a specific audience is a significant amount of work. In today’s political climate, the average campaign is data-rich, but content poor.

And it shouldn’t be that way. Modern political campaigns succeed one user at a time — but only by understanding their audiences at a personal level and responding in kind. So while the upcoming elections may be about big numbers and vast warehouses of data, success still comes down to the individual voter and what inspires them to act. 

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