During a campaign, voters would discover the candidate at different times and through different media. Some would be brought in by existing supporters, some will attend an event while some others may be drawn in by a yard sign or banner.
At one point, however, an interested voter goes searching for more information about the candidate to the same place – the web. So for a modern election candidate, it is important to have a web presence. That is created through maintaining the right social media channels, being visible on search engines and setting up an Election campaign website.
While you are likely aware of which social platforms your voters are on, the basics of a campaign website are a foreign subject for many political candidates. Here we have covered it all.
Purpose of a political campaign website
An election campaign website is not just a digital brochure for the candidate. It can help you in other aspects of the campaign from volunteer recruitment to fundraising. The campaign website establishes your visibility when a curious voter types in your name on Google. Through the site, you can lay out a route for the voter to discover more about the candidate and finally commit to vote for them.
It is an important practice to cover all the necessary aspects of a proper campaign website so that the voter finds what they come looking for.
Pages and information to add
A good election campaign site has to cover the following.
- Links to social media accounts. Voters may discover the campaign website out of momentary curiosity but you can use it to keep them engaged throughout the campaign period. Link to your Facebook campaign page and official account on Twitter. The point is to push regular updates so the voter stays connected to the campaign as voting day draws closer.
- Collect email IDs and names. Some voters may not be keen on following the campaign over social media. They might have a preference for email updates so it is good to have that available for interested voters as well. When a voter subscribes to the service, you also get their email IDs and names. Collecting voter data is quite important to give your campaign communication a leg up.
- Donation page and links. A voter who arrives at your site with an interest in the candidate or their policies may even be willing to donate to the campaign. You have to pitch in the question at the correct moment for that. A donation page or information on how to contribute will open that channel. The voter who is interested would like to have links to online donation forms or details on other methods readily available when they visit the campaign website.
- Volunteer recruitment form plus information. Similar to donors, campaign volunteers are interested supporters who discover the right channel at the right moment. Keep a volunteer recruitment page ready on the campaign site with a form for voters to fill. The page should mention what tasks and timings the volunteers are required for and the skills required. In fact, letting the voter choose what they wish to volunteer for brings more supporters forward. Let them choose between phone banking, door to door canvassing, organizing local events etc.
- Survey or poll. Depending on the hot issues of the election, your campaign website could ask visitors to fill out a survey or poll on the matter. This lets you gauge the voter’s perspective and shows what really strikes out for your supporters. This will help you prepare for future speeches and addresses to the voters and lay out the campaign communication accordingly.
- Photos for sharing. This is something new candidates often do not plan for. Media channels and supporters who share campaign-related information look for photos of the candidate. This leads them to the election campaign site. A photos page on the website addresses their needs and ensures all the photos shared over the campaign are picked by you. Keep the page updated and add photos from recent events to the page over the course of the campaign.
A domain for your campaign website
To start with, you’d need a domain for the election website. This is the web address voters go to, to browse the site. So it should be memorable for those who find the site through campaign literature or other media.
Decide on a domain name which sticks to the voter’s mind like DwayneJohnsonForPresident.com or something equally straightforward. This builds the candidate’s name ID as well. You have to check whether the domain is available for purchase. Sites like namecheck.com or knowem.com can help you in this regard. Next, go to a domain registrar like GoDaddy and buy the domain of your choice.
Select a website host
You’d have to get a hosting service for the election website. This is where the site files and data are placed. Selecting a host is about deciding how much space the site needs and the traffic you’d expect. For a local campaign, you can go for a basic setup. Some of the best hosting services are BlueHost, HostGator and GoDaddy.
Creating the website
Now that you have a domain and host, you can build the site and pages. There are quite a few options available specifically for political websites. NationBuilder, Blue State Digital, The Action Network and CiviCRM are a few you might want to check out first. NGP VAN offers a similar service for Democratic candidates. Otherwise, you could pick a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress. A CMS supports themes so you can choose your election website template and use it to set up the basic site. The tools to edit individual pages are all available within the platforms so you can modify and add the pages you want right by logging in. You can tweak the appearance, menu options, layout and design without any coding knowledge.
Pages and optimization
As discussed above, your campaign website requires some pages to address the voter’s interest.
- Homepage with the candidate’s image and office they are running for. The homepage should have the campaign message and call-to-action for the voters like subscribe, donate, volunteer etc.
- About page with the candidate’s background and relevant information on what makes them qualified for the position.
- Issues page where the candidate offers their take on the main issues of the election. Dedicate one page for the issues of focus during the election and individual pages for the candidate’s approach to each matter.
- Donate page with information on all the channels used for fundraising by the campaign.
- Volunteer page with a form for interested supporters to fill up. Give details on all volunteer activities like phonebanking, canvassing or hosting events so the voter knows what would be expected of them.
- Contact page with links to social media pages as well as a mailing address, phone number and email ID of the campaign. You can include a contact form for the voter too.
- Updates/ photos page where you post regular updates from the campaign trail. Include an email subscription button for voters who want to get updates straight to their inbox.
To make sure the campaign website is visible on Google, pay attention to the page titles. Mention the town/locality you are contesting in the typed content. Keep track of the keywords and titles you want the site to be optimized for and add the appropriate metadata when creating the pages.
A plugin like Yeost SEO for WordPress can help you in this regard. It analyses the page you create based on a focus keyword of your choice and gives suggestions to improve the page. Another useful plugin, SumoMe can help you add social media buttons and even create pop-up windows for donations or asking voters to subscribe.
Setting up a website may seem intimidating but once you get the hang of it, it is a smooth track. There are various functions served by an election campaign website. Play around with the customization options and you can keep the voter hooked till election day.Tags: best political campaign websites, best political candidate websites, building a campaign website, campaign web design, campaign website builder, election campaign websites