Vote Stickers on the back of voters hands representing the impact of having optimized forms for political websites.

If you are running or managing a political campaign, then you need to think about ways to optimize your website to make it more effective, and one of those ways is to optimize the forms. You might be asking yourself why? You slap a form on the website, and someone submits it, and you get the information That’s the end, right?

No, at least it shouldn’t be in the end. Especially if you are running a political website. Let’s talk about it.

Kinds of Forms

A campaign website usually, in my experience, has three to four different forms.

  • Basic contact form – this is the basic form to allow people to contact the campaign to ask questions/send messages.
  • Volunteer form – a form that lets people sign up to volunteer for the campaign. This is especially helpful if you have a lot of roles to fill. Phone banking, canvassing, lit drop, etc. A well-organized campaign needs lots of helpers.
  • Sign request form – getting signs in the ground is important, and having a way for people to sign up for a form is equally important.
  • Donate form – if you want donations, you need to make a way for people to donate online.

With forms, the rule of thumb is to only ask for as much information as you need to fulfill the request. For example, on the sign request form, it could be as simple as their name and address for the sign. For the contact form – just the name, email, and message fields. Why? Because the more questions you ask, the less submissions you’ll get.

The forms should be easy to fill in, both on desktop and mobile, and should be using clear and readable text. But I want to talk less about what goes in the forms and more about what happens after they submit a form.

Form submission doesn’t have to be the end

SO often, when forms are set up, the actual fields are created and the form is put on the website, but the rest of the form activities are ignored. What happens after they hit submit? How do you make that work for you?

Confirmation Message or Thank You Page

By default, when you create a form, the confirmation message is something like “Thank you for contacting us, we’ll be in touch shortly.” And that’s it, that’s the end. And that is a dud. That message isn’t going to drive your campaign anywhere.

You need a designated page that they land on after submission. In fact, you can even personalize this page with information they gave you in the form. And then you need to provide them with other things they can do on your site. Think about what your #1 goal is for your campaign. It might be donations, it might be sign requests, it might be social sharing. Whatever that goal is, you need to optimize your thank you page to try to reach that goal. Look at these two examples of a confirmation message.

Example 1: The Default

Thank you for contacting us. We will respond to your message soon.

Example 2: Optimized

Dear Kevin,

Thank you so much for contacting the Dillon Campaign for State Representative. We appreciate your support and can’t wait to get back to you.

Did you know that we’re a grassroots campaign, not accepting funds from corporate donors or sponsors. Can you help us with our campaign today with a donation of just $25? Your donation will go a long way toward funding our campaign and helping us make great strides in our great state!

John Dillon

Candidate giving thumbs up

Which one of those do you think is going to be more effective? It doesn’t have to be requesting a donation, this should be customized to maximize what you need the most. But this doesn’t have to be the end of your communication with this constituent! You can continue to market to them if you use this form submission to add them to your CRM!

Connect to your CRM

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. CRM software helps campaigns organize, strengthen relationships, communicate, and ultimately market to voters, with the ability to automate a lot of these processes.

How does this work?

As an example, say Kevin submits your form above, and they get that nice confirmation message. But their name also gets added to your email list in your CRM. Upon being added, a new automation routine is triggered, sending campaign messages that you’ve set up in advance. You can also continue to send messages to them this way as your campaign progresses.

Your CRM can be as simple as a MailChimp or MailerLite mailing list, or a more robust system like Zoho or HubSpot. There’s not one right solution. Decide on your budget and your functionality needs and look at what system is going to work best for you.

How often should you email?

So you’ve decided to add your form contacts to your CRM and send out an automated message. How frequently should you email and what should you send? These are good questions, and if you’ve ever found yourself on the receiving end of a presidential campaign mailing list, you’ll know exactly how often those emails get sent out!

There’s no one answer. You need to walk the line being obnoxious and making people unsubscribe and sending them enough to keep them informed. Before you decide on frequency, you should first answer two questions:

  1. How much time is there between now and early voting?
  2. What information do I want to share?

If you have ten topics you want to inform your subscribers about, and you have ten weeks before early voting, then you could set up a ten week schedule.

You could set up a schedule that goes every other week and picks up frequency as you get closer. It really depends on how aggressively you want to use your email list.

What should you send in your messages?

That’s really going to be particular to your specific campaign, but here are a few suggestions.

Welcome email. This is the first message in your series, that introduces yourself, your campaign, and gives them more information about why you are running.

FAQ emails. These are emails answering frequent questions your campaign gets. You could do a few of these, with information about where you stand on issues, what has inspired you to get into politics, etc.

Donation/Volunteer email. Don’t forget to use this email series to make the ask. Your campaign needs help, and you can use these emails get people involved.

Other emails you can send

Event invites. Are you doing events? Will you be at a booth? Speaking at a fundraiser? Marching in a parade? Use your email list to increase participation in these events by sending out invitations.

Blog posts. Are you keeping a blog on your campaign website? Automate those blog posts so everyone on your lis is seeing what you are sharing.

Other Form Submission Optimizations

Google Sheets: Did you know you can connect website forms to Google sheets? Why would you want to do that? Well, if one of your forms is a signup for yard signs, then you can put those requests all into a Google sheet to sort and track your sign fulfillment and removal after the race. If you are a little bit extra, you could even set up geolocating on a map to make delivery that much easier.

Mailers: You can also use these addresses to create labels for putting on your campaign mailers!

Ads: If you are collecting data from people, you can actually use this information in your digital marketing campaigns to specifically market to them via Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. Most platforms allow you to create custom audiences using data that you submit via a CSV.

The forms you put on your political campaign website isn’t *just* a form for filling out, it’s a valuable marketing tool that you should be using to create more effective campaigns.

Posted in | Tagged with
Amy Masson, Web Developer

Amy Masson

Amy is the co-owner, developer, and website strategist for Sumy Designs. She's been making websites with WordPress since 2006 and is passionate about making sure websites are as functional as they are beautiful.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.