Episode 114: Talking Digital Marketing for the US Election With Ryan Waterbury
Hey, All Robert Cairns here. I’m the founder, CEO and Chief creator of amazing ideas of stunning digital marketing. And today’s podcast, I sit down with Ryan Waterbury, and we talk about something really interesting. And that’s the impact of digital marketing, and how digital marketing has changed during the US federal election. So grab your favorite drink, sit down, and listen to this engaging conversation with Ryan and not.
Today, I’m here with my friend Ryan Waterbury, today, how are you today? Right?
I’m doing good. How are you?
doing? Well. So today, I thought would do something a little different. And you’re very much tied into the political digital marketing scene. So I thought we talked about that a little bit. Let’s talk about your background first, how did you get involved in that? And what else do you do?
So I got involved in that when. I mean, I’ve been in printing and design for a long time. So I’ve done mail marketing, for political campaigns for a long time. And I didn’t really get into the digital side until I got involved with my state Libertarian Party, a minor party, and did some activism work with them, and started working on their social media and growing their Facebook and Twitter and doing some, some web work there. That’s really kind of where it started. And that’s actually around the time, probably five, six years ago, when I officially incorporated my business, and really took a different track from just doing print broker and graphic design and really open up more web design under the company, digital marketing, SEO and, and, and full ad management on the search side and social side. So it’s it’s grown. It’s been fun. But yeah, that’s kind of where I started.
Yeah, this year, so a little crazy with all the all the mess in us with the election and all the issues. And, you know, at the time that this recording for those who don’t know, the President of the United States, was had COVID and was in hospital. So it’s it’s created a whole hoopla that I don’t think anybody needed Woody. You know?
That’s, yeah, that’s been an interesting dynamic. And his Donald Trump’s activity on Twitter makes for a really interesting daily news source.
Sure, it sure does.
That brings a whole different dynamic, and there are more people. Twitter is one of those platforms that when I look at the topics being discussed, it’s it can be a dumpster fire of political discussions, and you find a lot of that on Twitter, probably more so than specifically than some of the other platforms, although Facebook is kind of cluttered right now.
Yeah, so I would agree. It’s funny, you mentioned Donald Trump’s message on Twitter. And I’ve always said if he was strictly a marketer, he’d actually be a really good digital marketer, because he makes himself relevant. And people read this stuff, whether you like them or you hate them. So
you know, exactly. I follow him on all those channels, and to the chastising of some of my democratic friends, just because it’s it’s entertainment. And you never know what the guy’s gonna say that’s
now doing political websites. And I know because I have a couple of political clients in Canada as well. And you and I have talked about this before offline. Facebook is really convoluted domestic a little bit with things like ads and stuff. What is your take on what Facebook is doing in the political arena
that they’ve taken a whole step higher on, you know, the scrutiny on advertising, and with my nonprofit clients, it’s usually a slam dunk and within a couple of hours, I have ads running. pretty innocuous, you know, activism, dog rescue, you know, nice warm, fuzzy things. And my commercial clients, maybe it’s a day. But when I go to publish political ads, especially now, it’s almost a three day wait on some of the content when when we’re looking at on Facebook. And it really started in 2016, when you had to start paying for ads, the organic reach from 2012 2014, every one of our major election cycles, the organic reach of political pages for individuals and political parties and groups, really was just tanking. And they really cranked up and said, if you want to be seen, you got to start paying. And since 2016, they’ve gotten stricter, every major election cycle with scrutiny on registering and verifying who you are, and gathering more information that, you know, I recertified a couple of months ago, and, you know, updated my driver’s license and added a whole bunch of additional information that, you know, if you’re advertising for non political entities, you don’t need to do that. So they’re trying to build back some trust that what they’re showing is from a trusted source, but also the extra scrutiny makes it really tough to use the platform for advertising.
Yeah, and then there’s a lot of, they’ve changed all the rules to like, what you can do what you can’t do, and, and that type of thing. So there’s a lot of things in the political ad that you can’t say anymore. Right.
Right. And I mean, you know, we talked about Twitter, but they just took the hard stance that we’re not going to run a political ads, not doing it on our platform, which I think was a bad move on their part, they’re missing out on a lot of money. But you know, that I mean, that’s their prerogative. So, I mean, really, when we look at advertising, and I’m setting, sending up new campaigns for another client, Facebook, Instagram, and setting up Google ads, where, you know, those are your options, your your highest amount of voters that are going to participate, are on Facebook. You know, that’s, you look at the end of the Millennial Generation X into the, the the boomer generation, the voter participation, that’s your largest, largest chunk, and primarily, they’re on Facebook. So you’re kind of tied, if you want to reach that, that biggest demographic of likely voters, that’s really Facebook, you can do some other things. And in the United States, most of the states, when you go to the Secretary of State, you can get the voter record list. Usually they charge about 50 bucks, and they’ll send you a DVD of I think the last one I looked at was 1.8 million records. And we had about 56,000, good phone numbers, double that with email addresses. And we know how they participate in the last election, or last couple of elections and where they live. So from a marketing standpoint, you get access to a lot of data for a very little cost right up right up front. So you have a lot of research that doesn’t, you still need to do it. But you already know, party affiliation by who they voted for, you know, and how they participate in where they live. So you’ve got a list. So aside from the social media, and pay per click on the Google side, you can build an email list pretty quick by pulling in that data. by voting, they’d obviously opt in and you give them opt out immediately. But you got an email list that you can start using and start sending targeted messaging to pretty quickly where small businesses, nonprofits, they don’t have that. I mean, you have to build that over time. So that’s, that’s another plus where it makes it fun, but it’s a you know, different dynamic.
Is there a lot of email list building and or SMS text messaging going on in the political scene these days?
Yeah, SMS is really big, and that’s why I mentioned the number that I had, you know, the 56,000 phone numbers that you know, we can pull in from the state Put into an SMS messaging service. And, you know, right now, it’s, it’s not, I think I receive probably 10 text messages a day, from different groups, different campaigns, political action councils, it’s, it’s huge. So it can be effective. But we talked about AD blindness, when you roll down a page news, just start ignoring the ads and looking for content from people that you interact with. The same thing happens eventually with SMS. So you have to be smart about that on who you’re sending to and when you’re sending. But, I mean, again, from that list from our Secretary of State, you get a bank of numbers that that you can start texting out to, and targeted messaging based on their political affiliation.
Is there any danger in texting out to those numbers without explicit opt into it in us?
texting is a bit of a gray area. And so you have to allow them the ability to opt out. But if you’re a political candidate, and you obtain that list from the government, you, you have no free rein to use that list. You do have to actually be on the other end, and not send out a mass text. So it’s a one to one interaction, obviously, there are some CRMs. And software’s that, you can send the text out multiple times and interact through a dashboard. But that’s one of the drawbacks. So you can’t mass text without having a person on the other end to be able to respond. So that’s the rub there where it gets a little gray. I mean, you could mass text, but that person has to be able to respond. And some of the responses, even some of the responses I’ve set are clever and quite a quite funny.
I’m sure. With COVID going on, I’m actually surprised that more the election, and the campaigning hasn’t gone online. And we haven’t been looking at things like more digital forums, more digital debates than ever before, actually,
that really surprised me to that, particularly at our presidential level that we’re still seeing in person debates. I’m glad that’s happening that way. But social distancing, and, you know, maintaining that six plus feet apart, but the local races, the state races, not seeing a lot of the online forum debates and discussions that you would have thought would have been happening. Yeah. But yeah, I mean, mail. That’s, that’s the other piece, that direct mail. It’s, it’s a little bit up from what I usually see on a normal year, again, because you can’t go and knock on someone’s door right now, that that personal interaction that a lot of candidates rely on, particularly in local races where you can canvass an entire city. If you are running in a local race, you can’t do that right now. People are afraid to open their doors. So we’re seeing a little bit more direct mail in order to reach people at the mailbox or at their door.
I would think you know, safety’s paramount. And I’m at the position where I really don’t Toronto’s kind of turning into a bit of a hotbed again, in North America again, whether we like it or not. So I’m at the position of unless I got to go out for an appointment or something. I’m not going like I just, I just don’t like doing it right now. And I can understand people’s feelings. Now that’s also going to impact Election Day, isn’t it? Because in the US you’re doing some voting by mail this year, which is kind of unprecedent.
Not necessarily. And maybe it’s just knowing our state voting that particularly in the democratic leaning states, they’ve they’ve pushed for early voting by mail, not just absentee balloting for the past couple of election cycles. And the mechanisms were already there to do that, but there’s a bigger push. There are political action counsels, sending out mail on how to register and how to get your early ballot, the Secretary of State and all the states are sending out so it’s voters are being bombarded with that information to vote early. And most of the time, these debates, the likely voters, a lot of times are already decided. But early voting kind of squashes a lot of the undecided vote if it’s they have to see the middle debate. And there’s a huge red flag for a candidate. They may have already voted, and they can’t pretend that at that point.
Yeah, it’s a problem. Yeah. And of course, in US elections, if you’re a US citizen living outside the country, you’re still eligible to vote to write. And absolutely, it was. And that’s what there was some discussion where they were actually going to use Scotiabank arena and Toronto, which for those who don’t know, is the home of the Raptors and the Maple Leafs. And then maplelea Sports and Entertainment actually rescinded that offer about a week ago for some voting for foreign foreign American citizens in the GTA wallet. Yeah, there was that it was because of COVID concerns. So what is shock? Yeah, so there. So that was on the table as well.
Yeah, I mean, meilland voting was typically only used for people that were abroad, or weren’t going to be able to vote in person on that first Tuesday in November. But there’s been a stronger push, probably for the last decade or so for easier access, and early voting by mail. So I’m not surprised that there’s a push to have that done here. But, again, the final election results probably won’t be in on, you know, Tuesday night, Wednesday morning. You might have an idea, but those ballots will all be counted for at least another two weeks. So middle of November is gonna be kind of weird.
And then and then are we headed to the Supreme Court? What’s all the legal challenges of this election?
You know, it needs to be filmed for that to happen to a whole nother a whole nother hot topic right now that, you know, they need an in person vote to confirm the pic. And you know, that there’s a lot of red flags that I have COVID concerns I’m not coming in person. So yeah, there’s a lot of theater that, you know, is being used around COVID concerns and some reality as well.
But no, it’s
making, it’s making it really interesting. And some things are fun. where, you know, some candidates are getting more astute, closer to the end and realizing that they’re not having the normal reach. So I went from average workload, probably three months ago, maybe four, it was starting to pick up a little bit to holy crap. We need to do all these things in the last 60 days, and or last 30 days. And it’s just, it’s really ramped up where I’m happy to be busy again, after being decimated from earlier in the year, but it’s, it’s, yeah, it’s challenging and fun.
Yeah, I would say, I think it’s gonna be a long November to be honest with you. I don’t I don’t think you’re gonna know. I think you’ll have a good idea come election night where the results are at, but I think it’s everything after that’s gonna bring up the issue. So.
Yeah. I mean, Minnesota has particularly been a democrat state, being a largely farm heavy state. I think it was in the 50s or 60s, the state Democratic Party opted the farm and Labor Party, which was contrary to the other Upper Midwest states where farmers were aligned with the Republican Party. So that’s one of the big reasons why Minnesota has been a blue democrat state for so long. But we’re seeing a lot more ad spend because of the unpopularity of the. The lockdowns and the extended states of emergency from our democrat governor that some of the outer state areas that typically lock in democrat aren’t sure this year. So there’s a lot more visits from the presidential campaigns here. And a lot more ad spend. And that’s I think, why me in particular with a Minnesota number, I’m seeing a lot more texting and mail marketing than than usual. Because this is one of the states where they were in 2016, Hillary Kerry, the state by less than a percent, maybe 1%. between the two. So those states I think will be longer out with the ballot County. But we’ll see.
I’m actually surprised there hasn’t been more ad spend, you know, being being in Toronto, we get a lot of ustv on things like trying to fix this Canadian US border situation that’s gone on like as, as, as you know, or don’t know, the Canadian border has been basically closed, closed. And, and I personally don’t see it, even opening until the New Year, like fully, I don’t, I don’t see it happening. And part of the reason for that is, we’re on the border of New York State, which is still a bit of a hotbed. We’re on the border of Michigan, which is still a hotbed. We’re on the border with Washington state, which is still a hotbed. And and then we have this wonderful requirement in Canada, that if you come into Canada, you’re quarantined for 14 days anyways.
Yeah, I think in one of our last conversations, to get out of Canada, into the US, you had to declare a family emergency.
Well, that’s actually changed, you can fly into the US, but you cannot drive into the US.
And the only way, you’re an American coming into Canada as if you had family or an emergency or something like that, or part of the supply chain, they’ve actually in a mean, rightfully so i i can see concerns with New York State, Michigan in some places like that. Like it’s just, it’s just a drain on our health system we don’t want. So just a quick refresher, when is the US election date, by the way? Just as a reminder,
it is the first Tuesday in November. I believe it’s the third? Yeah, Tuesday the third.
So we’re Catholics, folks. Yeah, we’re under two. We’re under two weeks. And I think the digital lads are just the guinea increase in the next couple weeks.
Yeah. So Facebook, we talked about the scrutiny. Yeah, you have to have campaigns running by October 27. They’re clamping down and not allowing any new ad creation. But if you have already running ads to campaigns, you can update those and do some tweaks there. But no new new campaigns after the 27th. So there’s a really tight window to get things done, and have ads running the way you want them. Before that that last that last weekend and last push. So I expect to see more ads running progressively through Facebook, with the US political market, going up to that point. saturation.
I actually think digital ads are more important because there’s a lot of people who do not have cable. They they Netflix stream everything. They Amazon stream everything they who stream everything. So they’re not seeing the traditional TV ads that we’re so used to seeing, like 1020 years ago, because they’re not watching.
Yeah. Yeah, that does make a trick. That, you know, some of the network streaming apps are showing some of those ads throughout there. I know. CBS all access the peacock app. Hulu is another good one to advertise with, to read some of that market. That But yeah, I mean, Amazon Prime, Netflix, your most people are streaming and they got more into it as their main media source with the COVID shut down that people turn to that and they haven’t left. So social media and particularly display advertising with Google, it’s going to be really important to reach people. That third fourth touch to really convince that undecided voter and our last presidential election that was over 50% that did not vote For one of the major party candidates, it was around 23 or 24%. I think each for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump for their percentage of the popular vote. So there’s a huge chunk of undecided voters or non voters that didn’t participate, because they don’t like either candidate.
And the reason why you’re seeing online ads so much if your target at you is consistency, consistency, consistency, we, we all know, one ad doesn’t do it, we know that seeing the ad multiple times might do it. It’s it’s the same reason in conventional markets, companies like Coca Cola, run ad spots over TV, because it’s consistency, and recognition. Is there anything else you want to add right?
Off the top of my head, you know, I know we talked a lot about social media. But that that mail list when you’re fundraising, and really segmenting down, that’s been one of the most effective ways that I’ve seen with candidates in particular, to fundraise and get people back to your page and click through because then you can pixel them and hit them with that other social media and their favorite blog sites. But yeah, mail marketing is email marketing is important in any business. But yeah, having the demographics right off the bat to target your, your initial opening message is really nice and important. I, I don’t think it gets used effectively enough with with a lot of candidates out of the gate at least.
So true. If somebody wants to get ahold of you, Ryan has the best way.
You can hit my website at one dog dot solutions. I am on twitter at one dog solutions and Instagram at one dog solutions and also Facebook, you can do a search at one dog solutions. Try and keep it consistent for the good SEO. Otherwise, yeah. info at one dog solutions is the best email address to hit me up.
Thanks, Ryan. Have yourself a great day and really enjoyed the chat.
Yeah, he was well, glad to be here.
Thank you very much to Ryan Waterbury for joining me in today’s podcast. I hope you really enjoyed this look on digital marketing any uso action and thank you again for such an engaging conversation. If you want to reach me, you can find me at stunning digital marketing.com on twitter at Rob Karen’s by email VIP at stunning digital marketing.com by phone 416-624-7647 if you go on over to our website, scroll down the bottom join our free marketing newsletter direct marketing tips to your inbox at least once a week. No credit card no obligation required. This podcast is dedicated my late father Bruce Cairns. I love you very much. Keep your feet on the ground, keep reaching for the stars and make that business so you’re succeeding. Have a great day. Bye for now.