Online political campaigning has evolved over the last decade. While strategies have become more sophisticated, the campaign website has remained the hub of the online campaign. It takes time and effort to build support. If you think putting up a website and slapping on a donation button a few weeks before Election Day is a winning tactic, think again.
E-campaigning and electronic communication can enhance your credibility when used properly. There is a learning curve, so starting early will help you learn the tools and get your overall plan in order.
Here are some other reasons why you should get your campaign website started sooner than later.
Raise Money Faster
By starting early, you can raise campaign seed money faster. Have a website set up for donations makes it easier for donors to contribute. It’s easier to get someone to click and donate than to write out a check, put it in an envelope, and mail it out. You can raise more money faster if you have a way to fundraise online.
We offer our Lite Campaign Website Package. It’s designed for short-term campaigns or for campaigns that are on a limited budget and just starting out. A lot of our clients use the site to raise initial funds and then upgrade their site for a custom design and addition features in time for the primary or general election.
Search Engines Need Time
Go ahead, do a search for your name on Google. What shows up? Is it a new article, a LinkedIn profile, a Facebook Page, or information about someone else who shares your name? If so, how long do you think it will take for your campaign website to gain traction and rank above that other content?
It’s probably going to take more than month.
Just setting up a website a few weeks out before an election and expecting it to be found by voters searching on the web is unrealistic. Google, in particular, will not just ‘rank’ new, unknown websites – even if the domain name contains a candidate’s name. To get a site to show on Google takes both time and the existence of links from other sites pointing to the website.
Because it takes time for candidates to establish themselves online, we include hosting with all our website packages. It’s our way of encouraging candidates to start early with their online presence. Waiting a month or two before an election to start campaigning online does not provide enough time to build a network of support.
Note that some elected positions, such as judges or sheriffs, have very specific requirements as to when and how they can raise money or even begin campaigning. As always, check your local election rules before you begin any political campaign activity.
Your Own Site or Someone Else’s?
If you’ve done research on political website providers, you’ll find a number of sites offering ‘instant sign-ups’ to get started immediately. Basically, this means that you sign up for a monthly (recurring) billing – and you get to start setting up your site – from scratch.
But wait. Is the site that has just given you ‘instant’ setup let you create your own, distinct website? Or is your site just a subfolder of another site? Is there a domain name actually included? Does that domain name point to a real, separate domain – or does it just point to a folder on an existing domain? (www.websiteservice.com/johnsmithcandidate)
Does the website selling the service tell you that information before you sign up? Perhaps more importantly, can you even reach them to answer your questions? How can you contact them? Is there a phone number? Who will answer your question? Where are they located? What if there is a problem?
FREE TIPS SHEET: 7 Preparatory Steps for a Political Campaign WebsiteOnline Candidate Ebooks Now Featured On Amazon.com
4 Challenges Faced by Small Campaigns »