How British businesses can harness digital in the same way as political parties

The 2015 Conservatives’ digital campaign – with its targeted use of online advertising, emails, social media, online films and interactive websites – helped the party win a majority for the first time in over 20 years.

There are some important lessons that businesses of any size, old or new, can learn from the campaign about the role of digital:

Take digital seriously

In 2010, no British political party took digital seriously. The digital operations of all parties were under-staffed, under-funded, and focused on producing content aimed at political insiders not swing voters.

In 2015, digital was at the heart of the Conservative campaign, and everything they did was tracked, measured and scrutinised against the organisation’s goals. 

Many businesses seem confused about where digital should sit. Digital really does now need to be at the heart of where the customer messages and propositions are developed. It has the chance to transform how you engage with your customers but only if you truly engage with them on their terms.

Be where your customers are – and ignore the places they’re not

If your customers aren’t on Instagram or Snapchat or Pinterest, there is no reason for you to be either.

At the election, the Conservatives prioritised Facebook over all other platforms (including Twitter – the perennial obsession of Westminster insiders), because they knew that was where they could reach the undecided voters they had to win over. 

Many businesses obsess with Twitter. Yes, it’s important, but remember where your customers are and think about how they engage with the social media channels – all of which have a very different purpose from a customer perspective. 

Read more on social media engagement:

Measure the right thing

Make sure digital is judged by KPIs that actually matter to the organisation; don’t let it play by its own rules. 

At the election, success for the Conservatives’ digital campaign was judged by the same measures as every other part of the organisation – money raised, volunteers recruited, swing voters reached with key messages.

Retweets and Facebook ‘likes’ do not win elections – you have to focus on the numbers that matter to your business.

So link your measures of digital success to the broader business strategy goals. If sales are headed downwards but Facebook likes are heading up, you still have a problem and your digital strategy could need refocusing.

Continue reading on the next page to find out how the Conservative party grew its email database from 300,000 to 1.4m people.

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