The Liberal Party of Quebec is buying into Google AdWords and search engine marketing, according to a story by La Presse (see also the debate this has raised). The LPQ politicians are setting a bad example to those people who heard about AdWords through La Presse, however.
A friendly acquaintance of mine who happens to be one of Yulbiz's founders (Yulbiz is the monthly meeting of Montreal's blogging community) was cited in the piece. Michel Leblanc, of Analyweb Marketing, found out that Jean Charest's Liberals were paying 8 cents a click for low-profile candidates names, and as high as 47 cents a click for "Jean Charest."
It'll be interesting to see if there will be any practical return on investment. Sure it's only a few dollars in the grand scheme of things, but the principle is important. Will these ads get people to buy Liberal Party memberships? Will they get visitorsto vote Liberal?
The absence of calls-to-action and amateurishness of the site (unfinished navigation such as "Survol du premier mandat un peu plus de texte" - Translation: "Overview of the first mandate some more text [sic]"), answers those questions with a resounding no. The Liberals clearly have no measurable goals for the ads and site to achieve. (Note, even if they were using SEO instead of SEM, they would need to have measurable goals.)
From what I can tell, the Liberals are just buying search engine advertising in order to get exposure and to project an image of a technologically inclined party. Hence text like the following:
"En modernisant l’État, notamment par le développement des services sur Internet [...] Translation: "By modernising the State, especially by developping our online service offerings [...]"
Just before I analyze the marketing and leave the political talk, I'd like to reply to what a PQ member saw as potentially confusing to web users. Google's Quality Score factor ought to place the PQ's ads for its own candidates above those of the LPQ. The higher the ad, the earlier it gets noticed. So people won't accidentally click on the first ad and end up on the Liberals' site. Second, the ads all have their party's URL in them, so users see what site they're visiting. Nobody is being misled.
Anyways, back to the marketing analysis and tips.
Political campaign management is the slacker child of the marketing family. Ads on TV and in the mainstream media have little measurable effect, and when there is an opportunity for tight measuring of ROI as with search marketing, the opportunity is squandered.
Here are my proposals for the political campaigns to do a better job with their marketing spend:
1) Define measurable goals. Are you looking to get a neighbourhood covered with your electoral signs in anticipation of an opponent's tour? Tell people in your ad to come pick up their lawn signs at your campaign office.
2) Track results, and cut short those marketing expenditures that don't provide the return on investment you need. For example, instead of just insulting your opponents, make a page on your site that analyzes their shortcomings, and encourage people to visit that page. So at the end of your TV ad, the website URL is ourparty.org/theirleaderisawful. When people visit that page directly by typing it into their browsers, you know your ad is succeeding.
3) Engage voters and tell them how they can participate in the campaign. When someone makes a presentation to you on the environment, they ask you to legislate this or that. When you campaign, ask voters to hop on the train and campaign too.
Here's an example: Get an 800 number. Only mention it in your newspaper ads (when people call, you'll know the newspaper ads worked, and how much - see point 2 above). Finally, tell them over the phone what they can do specifically in their riding. When you see more posters favouring your policy proposal go up around town