When it comes to running for an office, whether it is within your local, state or national government, there are many ways to reach out to voters. With the power of the Internet, your website can be used as a great advantage to your campaign. You have the ability to gain endorsements, discuss hot button issues and collect donations.
The problem with many candidates’ websites is that they don’t use them to their full potential. A well designed website can increase voter interaction, as well as donations and volunteer efforts.
If you are running for office for the first time, you can use your website to get your name in the public eye. Voters can also access more information about you through your site, and get to know you and better understand the topics you are passionate about.
According to a study done by the Pew Research Center, “campaign websites remain the central hub of digital political messaging.” If the public is viewing your social media page, they will most likely end up back on your website for more information. This is why your website should contain the latest on what you want voters to know.
Covering the Hot-Button Issues
When it comes to designing your website, focus on the topics that ignite voters. Whatever position you are seeking, there are a wide variety of hot-button issues. You should discuss your stance and how your role in the government will make a difference.
There are many major issues that concern voters, such as education, taxes, the economy and homeland security. Take time to prioritize these issues and ensure that your site makes it easy to find topics of interest to the voter. The more time they spend on your site, the better they’ll know you, so link between content whenever there is a logical connection that strengthens your case.
Consider including a local news section in your website to keep supporters up to date with the latest campaign news and what you are doing to address the issues in their lives. A news section might be the perfect place to have a call to action. When you readers to join the cause with something as simple as signing up for a newsletter, you keep them engaged. This can also make it easier for them to donate money and share your post on social media.
Using WordPress for Your Political Site
WordPress is one of the most popular and most user-friendly website options that is super easy to use. The look and feel of WordPress can be customized easily to match your campaign brand. Plugins can add needed functionality. By using WordPress, you will be a step higher than a simple landing page or static website and you won’t need to hire an expensive developer to design your website.
In fact, according to Automattic, the founder of WordPress.com, “thirty-five percent of U.S. congressional races, 40% of U.S. Senate races, 44% of U.S. gubernatorial races and 41% of state political parties” relied on WordPress for their website in 2012. Those numbers continues to grow.
According to the director of platform services at Automattic, Peter Slutsky, “Politicians are coming to WordPress because it’s incredibly easy to use, it’s very flexible, it’s free, it’s open-source and it’s a language that a lot of people speak.”
WordPress offers the ability to switch between stock templates and custom frameworks. A study done by OrgSpring on the 2014 Congressional Races in Pennsylvania showed that 42.5% of candidates’ websites were built on WordPress platforms. Of those websites, candidates who had a custom design won 78% of the elections, whereas those using stock templates won only 57%.
One of the great benefits of using WordPress for your campaign website is the ability to add widgets. Certain widgets can help you better connect with website viewers through mailing list signups, social media features and donations.
When collecting donations directly on your website, you want users to be able to do so in the easiest way. If donating becomes complicated, you are less likely to close the deal. The good news is that there are easy to use plugins for platforms like WordPress to accept political donations.
In order to get the most out of the donation experience, you want to keep the user on your site and move the user through the donation process as quickly as possible. Always give the user the option to make the donation recurring, which will benefit your campaign and keep your donors more engaged.
Always use the thank you page to invite the donor to perform some action, like sharing a message on social media or writing a testimonial about the candidate. You can also use the addresses captured during the donation process to send pins, bumper stickers and other items to help them publicly show their support.
WordPress has proven to be a practical tool for political candidates in local, state and national governments. As the 2016 elections approach, WordPress is expected to continue to dominate in candidate websites. If you are running for a political seat, the Internet can have a big impact on your campaign when leveraged properly.
“How the Presidential Candidates Use the Web and Social Media,” Pew Research Center: Journalism & Media Staff. Pew Research Center. August 15, 2012. http://www.journalism.org/2012/08/15/how-presidential-candidates-use-web-and-social-media/
“WordPress is Probably Powering Your Favorite Candidate’s Website,” Fitzpatrick, Alex. Mashable. September 17, 2012. http://mashable.com/2012/09/17/politics-wordpress/#xLpNHuGV_gqY
“Analysis of Winning Political Websites for Congressional Races in PA,” Grella, Craig. OrgSpring.com. November 5, 2014. http://mashable.com/2012/09/17/politics-wordpress/#xLpNHuGV_gqY
“Building Political Sites and Gearing up for the Elections on WordPress,” Slutsky, Peter. WordPress.com. October 27, 2014. https://vip.wordpress.com/2014/10/27/building-political-sites-and-gearing-up-for-the-elections-on-wordpress/