Looking back at the three types of data, we'll remember that first-party data is all that information you collect from someone directly. It is seen as the most accurate and reliable type of data. If first-party data truly is “the best stuff”, then campaigns should place a high priority on its collection. Remember, first-party data is the data that your campaign will be collecting directly. Information obtained directly from a voter is going to be much more accurate, reliable, and pertinent to your campaign than data you obtain from any other source. Candidates and campaign managers need to understand how and when to proceed with the collection of first-party data. This can be a daunting challenge, not just for someone with little experience in campaigning, but even to seasoned incumbents and candidates as well. Let’s take a look at some of the activities, and tools you can use to collect viable first-party data.
Three data venues
There are three basic dimensions, or activities, for data collection; Events, Online, and Canvassing. Almost all of your first-party data collection will be conducted via one of these three activities. There are several tools across these three activities you should be using to assist in the collection of your data.
Events are data gold mines
Events are a great place to collect first-party data, because if you are taking the time to be at an event, it’s because voters are there too. It doesn’t matter if you organize and run the event, or just get booth or table space, events are a must for collecting data on your campaign. Do not underestimate the power of a highly motivated volunteer with a clipboard and a stack of sign-up sheets making the rounds at an event that has similar priorities to your campaign. Odds are good that the people there will be supporters, and happy to sign up.
Sign-up sheets are an oldie, but a goodie. You should have sign-up sheets at any event your campaign is represented at. Even if it is an event you have organized and are running, you may encounter foot traffic or interested people outside of your registered attendees. You will want to make sure you have a method of getting interested parties involved, and ensure that they have access to more information about your campaign. Don’t forget, every sign up sheet you collect is first-party data to add to your database.
Eventbrite is an amazing tool for organizing and driving people to your event. Eventbrite allows event organizers to set up registration pages for any event, and promote their event across a spectrum of social media platforms. Eventbrite is excellent for collecting first-party data through its event registration capabilities. You can choose what info is optional or required, and create custom questions to gather pertinent info. Some other features on the site include event promotion, the ability to link with affiliate programs to boost outreach, and dynamic reporting of registered attendees – including information collected and answers to custom questions.
Online - it's the wave of the future
If you aren’t running your campaign with an online component, you need to start. You can accomplish an incredible amount of outreach with little maintenance after the initial setup of your survey or petition. Online petitions can be a great way to gather data. If your campaign has a website, which it should, you need to be constantly running surveys or petitions covering assorted areas of concern to voters. Refreshing survey topics once or twice a week ensure that you can gather data from as many voters as possible. No two voters are alike, so you’ll want to make sure to rotate topics to maximize participation from all visitors to your website.
Google Forms and Jotform are tools you can use to create surveys and petitions and share them across email or social media platforms. Google Forms is just another in the long line of intuitive online services Google offers. Once you get to the Google Forms website, it is as simple as creating a survey on Google Forms, then sending it out via the method of your choosing. You can place a URL in a tweet or Facebook post, embed it in your website, or mass email it. Jotform is similar, and allows you to drag and drop fields onto a template to customize a form. After that, you just copy and paste the code into your website, and wait for the results to roll in via email.
Pagemodo is another way to assist with your online data collection. Apart from offering unique and amazingly professional cover pages for Facebook profiles, Pagemodo offers functionality to promote your campaign efficiently on social media, with the ability to track stats such as likes, comments, shares and views. It also allows users to schedule posts on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to be sent out in the future.
Canvassing - get out there and knock on some doors
Canvassing is definitely an activity your campaign should already be conducting, so make sure that you are including a comprehensive data collection process to it. No matter the size of your district or the amount of voters you are trying to contact, it is vital to have motivated and energetic volunteers out on the street. These volunteers will be meeting face to face with many of your voters or potential voters, and it would be a wasted opportunity if they were not collecting data from them as they did it. Walkbooks are an excellent tool for this, and they can be as simple as pen and paper on a clipboard, or higher tech digital walkbook apps on a tablet or smart phone. Cyrus from Victory Solutions, and Voter Gravity are excellent mobile canvassing apps that will save a lot of time on preparation and data entry. You can maximize efficiency with the Cyrus app by using it in conjunction with Victory's data management tool Campaign Commander. No matter how you plan on conducting you canvassing operations, make sure your volunteers are collecting good, accurate first-party data from the folks they talk to.Technology has definitely made the first-party data collection easier than it has ever been, but you can't simply rely on the internet to do all the work for you. No campaign should simply rely on one form of data collection either, using many of the collection tools at the same time will help to maximize and diversify your data collection. Use the right tools in the right places, and you'll have no problem getting the job done.