Voter Gravity adds Contact Tags, completes data-driven voter contact loop

This week, we’re releasing a simple feature that adds a new data-driven targeting tool to Voter Gravity and makes it easier than ever to integrate all of your campaign’s contacts in one place.

Tags have always been a staple of how Voter Gravity lets campaigns add data to voters so they can go back and segment audiences based on what they’ve learned about a voter via canvassing, phone calls, or even via Facebook friends.

Now, campaigns can add tags to contacts, making it easy to segment key audiences by online action.

Why is this important? Who cares?

Let’s say Gary is running for Congress and his digital team has online ads encouraging people to sign a petition to take action on immigration.

When a person fills out that petition, their info is added as a Contact in Voter Gravity (via our integration with Zapier). Gary’s campaign can then easily match that contact to the voter file. If there’s a match, what started as a simple web signup is now a full profile of that voter.

This is what campaigns can do today in Voter Gravity, and it’s been a great way for campaigns to integrate data from different sources with the core voter file. But what if a campaign wanted to go back and contact just those voters who signed the immigration petition?

With Contact Tags, when Gary’s campaign sets up Zapier to sync their online petition signups with Voter Gravity, they can add a unique tag, such as “webform-immigration_petition-July_2014″. That’s obviously quite a tag, but it uniquely tells anyone in the future that this contact filled out immigration petition web form in a campaign run in July 2014.

Let’s say immigration suddenly becomes a major campaign issue in September and Gary’s team decides to host a town hall on the issue in the district. Thanks to smart tagging and an integrated campaign effort, they can quickly pull a list of every likely supporter in the district who filled out that online petition and invite them to the town hall. They could also segment just those contacts who are prior donors and filled out the petition and send them an issue-specific fundraising email.

Because of his integrated campaign approach — using online activity to drive offline action — Gary wins the election and goes to Congress. Months later when Congress debates major immigration legislation, Gary’s campaign team can reach out to their supporters who have expressed interest in the issue and encourage them to get active in the debate.

The possibilities are endless for innovative, integrated, data-driven campaigns. How could you use contact tags to learn more about your target voters, and engage them to take action with messages targeted to their specific interests?

Let’s have that conversation. Contact us for a live demo today: www.votergravity.com/demo.

Go Big with Political Technology

Political campaigning involves an ever-increasing cacophony of activities throughout the course of an election cycle. To emerge from this tornado with a victory, each campaign must leverage a vast variety of tools and skills – fundraising, messaging, public speaking, advertising, on-the-ground organizing, and coalition building. Technology has the ability to build each of these into a force multiplier.

As the Chief Operating Officer at Voter Gravity, I lead the product development team building a next-generation web and mobile application that turns data into votes. Last week I was honored to participate on the Navigating Voter Data panel at The Art of Political Campaigning Conference sponsored by Campaigns & Elections. It was exciting to discuss my passion: political technology.

For the last 10 years, I have been trying — without success at times — to encourage Republicans to make better use of technology and to adopt an innovation mindset —  including innovating how they leverage data. No other buzzword is so empowering, and yet so confounding, to today’s political operative as “data.”

It’s not like political campaigns are new to using data. Direct mail, of course, is explicitly built on the practice of identifying, segmenting and contacting voters in distinct groups. “Microtargeting” if you will.

But this data we speak of today is something new… Like Jack Bauer faced with the urgency of diffusing a nuclear bomb, we stare at the enormous problem before us, frantically slashing through a technical and complicated mess trying not to blow up the whole thing, and all the while…  knowing with tense certainty… that we are running out of time. Modern voter data comes served on a menu with a dizzying array of options. Would you like it with consumer information? Social streams? On a map? Modeled And you can even get your voter data baked … in cookies.

On the panel we explored the extent of what is possible in the modern campaign when it comes to the use of data. How it can be applied to connect with the right voters, using the right message, through the right medium. Getting data right IS CRITICAL to campaigns who are competing in tough races. But beware: Data is not a magical elixir to all campaign ills. It is, however, a mighty potion to identify, persuade, and turnout the voters you must turnout to win an election.

New mobile app + Walklist XL get campaigns in the field faster

Campaigns are anything but bureaucratic. When something needs to happen on a campaign, it needs to happen quickly. That’s why we went back to the drawing board to completely redesign our mobile app and how walklist are created in Voter Gravity.

Starting tomorrow, campaigns will have access to two new features that will work in tandem to enable faster, bigger canvassing efforts via Voter Gravity.
Continue reading →

Running a Call-From-Home Program Through Voter Gravity

Over the last few years, Call-From-Home programs have become popular for presidential and large statewide campaigns because they allow volunteers to help their favorite candidates without having to drive to a campaign office. Today, this same technology and convenience is available to campaigns on a tighter budget thanks to Voter Gravity.

To start a call-from-home program based on your Voter Gravity account, there’s just a few quick steps to get going:

1. Add your volunteers

If someone is going to be making calls for your campaign, they’ll first need to be a user. In the Portal, go to Manage > Team and drop them in there. If they’ll only be making phone calls for you, you can give them the role “Phone Bank” but if they’ll be canvassing as well, you’ll want to go ahead and add them to the “Volunteer” role.

2. Create your lists

Voter Gravity makes it easy to slice and dice your data. Go to Phonebank > Create and select the filters you want to use to reach your target voters. Submit your selection and you’ll see a quick preview of voters who match your criteria. If this looks good, give your list a name and save it.

Then on the Phonebank > Manage screen, you have a ton of options to setup how your list will be used. You can assign the list to specific volunteers, select a specific survey (more about setting up surveys here), even select an audio file to play when your callers are sent to voicemail.

(Uploading a voicemail audio file is a great way to record a message from your candidate so voters hear their voice on the line when they check their voicemail.)

3. Select your calling options

Voter Gravity offers three modes for your volunteers to call voters. It’s up to you which you want to make available to your volunteers:

  • Own Phone: The voter’s phone number appears on the Portal, and the volunteer dials that number directly from their own phone. Note that this can often work when the campaign is providing phones but is not recommended for a call-from-home program.
  • Dial In: This is the most commonly used option for call-from-home programs. Using Dial In, Voter Gravity will call your volunteer’s phone, then keep them on the line while they switch from voter to voter. Dial In mode also allows volunteers to leave a recorded voicemail message. Note that there is a 5 cent per minute charge to use Dial In, but most campaigns find it very worthwhile to provide peace of mind to volunteers.
  • Headset: If your volunteers have a laptop computer and strong Internet connection, they don’t even need a cell phone — they can just make calls right from their computer using a headset with microphone. Note that calling using your computer’s speakers instead of a headset is NOT recommended, unless your voters are into echo-y conversations.

You can enable / disable the Dial In and Headset options under Phonebank > Settings. Also, you can select a local phone number to appear on voters’ caller ID on this page. And upload voicemail MP3 files too.

And that’s it! You’ll have your volunteers on the phones in no time.

Bringing Your Data Together Like Never Before

Like any tech startup, we love getting user feedback. And from what we’ve heard over the past few months, one thing keeps coming up — how can campaigns bring all of their data together in one place?
That’s the question we start off with every morning, and our (only slightly unhealthy) obsession with solving that problem has led us to release several new features in Voter Gravity over the past few days. Take a look at some of the powerful new options available to users today to integrate data, persuade voters, and win elections:

Contact-to-Voter Matching

Last fall we released our Contacts module, letting campaigns manage donors and non-voter supporters in our system, and became the first app in politics to integrate with Zapier, bringing users access to hundreds of web apps.
Today, we’re excited to bring you the ability to connect your contacts with their voter record. Now you can bring together your web signups and match them up with voter data, creating rich profiles of the voters you want to reach most.
In the next few weeks, we’ll be rolling out even more ways to search, segment, filter, and define target audiences across both their contact and voter records. This makes Voter Gravity the most integrated data management platform available for conservatives, and we’re excited to see how you will use these tools to make an impact.

Append Voter Data
We’re always happy to import data for our users and match tags to the voter file, but campaigns can’t always wait for an engineer to prepare a custom upload. They need their data in NOW. 
So we’ve built a tool to allow you to do just that. With the new Data Import feature, you can upload your own files, match them to the voter file, and then tag the matched voters. You can also add phone numbers, email addresses, and notes at anytime, right from Voter Gravity.

New Phone System
You asked for more robust options in the phone bank, and we’ve delivered. In April we released a series of updates to our Phone Bank Module, bringing you:

  • A better headset calling option
  • Improved dial in option, so you now stay connected to the system between calls
  • Leave pre-recorded voicemail messages
  • More robust admin options

A Note on Data
As we all know, voter data is messy. But we do our best to wrangle that data into a usable format so you can better build relationships with voters. Toward that end, we have partnered with several data providers across the center-right to be sure the data available in Voter Gravity is the best, most accurate information available. This is an on-going process and we will continue to work at it. Our ultimate goal is to make data accessible to campaigns on the ground, and we are working with some awesome, brilliant data providers to make that possible.

Update on System Outage, 4/29/14

Late last night Voter Gravity suffered a system-wide outage due to a database failure. Our engineering team responded to the event immediately and worked with the Amazon Web Services team throughout the night to restore the database. Early this morning, full functionality of the system was restored. We are still examining the database, but we have no reason to believe there has been any loss of user data. We will continue to investigate to be 100% certain.

The outage resulted in users being unable to access the system from approximately 9:30 pm ET 4/29 through 5:30 am ET 4/30. We sincerely apologize for this issue and the impact it had on our users. As political operatives ourselves, we know how critical it is that you have all systems go 24/7 on a campaign. That’s why we’ve already started to implement a mitigation process to ensure this outage never happens again.

Here are the specific steps we are taking immediately:

1) In addition to the monitoring and alert tools we have in place, we are setting up additional alerts to catch incidents even earlier.

2) We are re-evaluating our database redundancy and availability strategy to be better prepared to switch quickly in case there is ever a future failure, taking the potential impact from hours to seconds.

3) We have been in the process of making several major database changes to further optimize our system. We will accelerate our work on these projects as they will not only make our core infrastructure more robust, but improve the quality of the user experience as well.

4) We are adding additional user notifications in the portal and via status updates. We will have more news on these alerts and notifications in the near future.

Again, we deeply apologize to any of our users affected by this incident. If you have any questions or notice any issues with your account, please don’t hesitate to contact our Support Team.

More firepower

August might be a slow month for politicians, but at Voter Gravity we’ve been hard at work building new features to bring more power and speed to our users.

Check out these two new features rolling out soon:

New Survey Builder

How do you know who is really a targeted voter? A persuadable voter? A pro-life voter? You ask them questions, of course.

And asking smart, targeted questions just got a whole lot easier with the new Survey Builder in Voter Gravity. Campaigns can create their own surveys without having to contact support, and they can create multiple surveys and assign them to walk lists or phone banks. This makes it faster and easier to get targeted ID and persuasion efforts into the field. Continue reading →

Can the GOP hack it?

Every few weeks, an article or conference panel pops up asking the question “Can the GOP close the digital divide?” Gone are the days when such conversations began with the premise, “Is there a digital divide?”

These discussions inevitably hark back to the 2012 election, where the Obama campaign used the full weight of incumbency to build a world-class technology team with the time and mandate to build an infrastructure that united the campaign’s data like no one had ever done before. They integrated data, effectively analyzed it, and spoke to voters using messages based on their insights.

Not to take away from what the Obama campaign accomplished, but that was almost a year ago, an eternity in the Moore’s Law-driven world of exponentially changing technology. The way people think about – and use – technology develops rapidly and continuously. For instance, the number of people who use a mobile phone to access the internet increased by 60.3% in just the last 2 years. Continue reading →

Tour the new Canvassing Dashboard

Lots of new changes to Voter Gravity this summer. Check out the new integration with Esri maps and the ability to select up to 25 walk lists in this new video hosted by our CEO, Ned Ryun.


Majority of Americans Now Own Smartphones

Harper Reed, the now-famous CTO for the 2012 Obama campaign, said at a presentation following the campaign, “Technology was more important this cycle because in 2008 we were using technology. In 2012, our parents were.”

His assertion seems to have held up as a new study from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project found that more than half – 56% – of all cell phone devices in the US are now smartphones. Continue reading →