Rollout Democracy blog

What is a VRM strategy and why does your campaign need one?

Borrowing insights from the fields of customer sales and marketing, a Voter Relationship Management (VRM) strategy represents a comprehensive approach to manage, and maximize the value of, the interactions between a political organization and its volunteers, supporters, and, ultimately, target voters.

Such a strategy is underpinned by new technologies and methodologies, such as Political Software (e.g. NationBuilder and NGP VAN), Addressable Ads, Big Data and Data Analytics or Behavioural Science.

Technology and Data are indeed key components - or success factors - of a winning VRM strategy, but they are not the only ones. In its Digital Playbook for Grassroots Campaigns ®,Rollout Democracy have developed a 5-component VRM strategy:

  • Process: e.g. well-defined and step-by-step processes to be followed by volunteers, HQ staff, and fundraisers across the organization.

  • Data: e.g. calculating Social Media Return On Investment (ROI), obtaining a 360-degree view of the voter, following standardized methods of data collection for aggregation purposes, using data dashboards to drive decision-making, and more

  • People: e.g. highly-skilled and motivated campaign teams, the delivery of relevant training, and more

  • Control: e.g. strong data-protection rules, prevention of data leaks,  user-driven access control and permission granting, etc.

  • Technology: fit-for-purpose applications and software to be able to support all the above

Adhering to a set of flexible design principles and establishing feedback mechanisms are key considerations for your VRM strategy to be able to adapt to changing circumstances.

Why is it relevant for your campaign?

Volunteers and grassroots activists know it: engaging with a voter is not an easy task. It requires research skills, mental sharpness, and a great deal of empathy. Everyone knows how the conversation starts but not how it will end. This is why the human component in voter engagement is crucial and, together with technology and data, can propel a campaign to success.

However, our experience tells us that most political organizations heavily rely on just one or two of the above-mentioned components, whilst leaving the remaining ones untouched. Lacking of a comprehensive VRM strategy might lead to messy and badly-run campaigns.

Indeed, the Internet is full of testimonials about people wanting to engage with self-proclaimed “data-driven” campaigns that invested in fancy technology platforms, only to find themselves being the recipients of email blasts with general campaign messages and repeated calls to volunteer on a day you previously said you could not make it. Here are some examples:

“Fearing the case for EU membership might not succeed without more support, I registered online. But from the start, Britain Stronger In Europe seemed an elusive organization. Weeks and months passed without much contact....”

Source: Creative Review (August, 2016). Inside the Remain Campaign: Why it failed and What Next

“Lesson #9: Build a working feedback loop. (...) there is no substitute for being on the ground and actually organizing with the model, or the talking points, or the software.”

Source: Civic Hall (January, 2017): An inclusive vision for democratic technology

“I’m not a Luddite. I did my graduate work in political science at MIT, and as a longtime Democratic strategist, I appreciate the role that data can play in winning campaigns. But I also know that data isn’t a replacement for a message; it’s a tool to focus and direct one…”

Source: Politico (2017). Data-Driven Campaigns Are Killing the Democratic Party

A VRM strategy is aimed at addressing all these flaws and, most importantly, tying everything together within the campaign. However, not all organizations are born equal. The depth and breadth of your VRM strategy will mainly depend on the unique characteristics of your organization.

Does this  story sound familiar? Then contact us to find out how we can help.

What we do 

At Rollout Democracy, we help you design and implement a tailored VRM strategy for your political organization and/or campaign. Our expertise has been documented in the Digital Playbook for Grassroots Campaigns ®, a must-have tool for Digital Directors and Campaign Managers that contains:

  • strategies and best practices on disrupting methodologies and technologies (e.g. Behavioural Science, Data Analytics, Addressable-ad Tech), and

  • how-to guides applicable to the most popular campaign software in the market

We have relevant experience implementing NationBuilder in organizations and political parties in the United Kingdom and across the rest of Europe. Our clients often request our services to:

  • Help them understand whether NationBuilder is the right partner for their organizations and campaigns. We have built our own methodology to carry out Vendor Evaluation Analysis tailored to each type of campaign and organization

  • Offer First-Line Support during the implementation of NationBuilder and deliver a smooth and seamless transition into the new platform

  • Design and execute a tailored technology campaign strategy by following best practices documented in the Digital Playbook for Grassroots Campaigns ®

  • Provide other consulting services such as Project Management guidance (we count with PMP®-certified professionals)

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