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The Secret Weapon in the 2012 Presidential Election: Marketing Automation

The Guardian recently called it the “Holy Grail of digital campaigning.” Huffington Post is calling it “ingenious” and “a game-changer.”

Whether it lives up to the hype or not has yet to be seen, but the Obama campaign’s new digital tool, simply called The Dashboard, is receiving a lot of media attention. It’s being viewed as a major evolution of the volunteer organizing process for political campaigns.

As more and more details are released, this game-changing new tool may start to sound familiar to some B2B marketers. Early reports portrayed Dashboard as a comprehensive database of volunteer activity. Any visitor who registers on the campaign’s website is automatically included in the Dashboard database. Campaign organizers have access to registrant location, skill sets, and even their social media data. This allows organizers to know exactly which volunteers to tap for specific initiatives.

Sound familiar? If you’re a Pardot user, it should. Dashboard is a marketing automation platform.

Obviously, Dashboard is not geared towards marketing in the same manner as Pardot, but it serves many of the same basic functions. Let’s take a look:

Better Understand Your Leads
While traditional political campaigns rely on volunteer sign-ups on a per-event basis, Dashboard is capturing volunteer information once, at the point of registration, and using volunteers’ digital footprints to pull in additional information. This benefits both organizers and volunteers by only requiring registration once and building in-depth profiles of volunteers to ensure that they’re used in the most relevant way possible.

Marketing Equivalent: Like Dashboard, marketing automation solutions use landing pages and forms to capture lead information. They pull in relevant information like location, job title, company, and social profiles. This allows automation solutions to grade your leads so you can determine the best opportunities to pursue.

Only Focus on the Best Leads
In past campaigns, supervisors and organizers would have to invest an immense amount of time and effort to track down qualified volunteers. Dashboard automates this process for organizers, saving time and valuable resources.

For example, if a supervisor needs four volunteers to go door-to-door before a last minute rally, he or she can look at Dashboard to find out which volunteers have significant door-to-door experience. No need to ask each volunteer in the database. The supervisor can simply find his or her qualified volunteers and ask them to put on their walking shoes.

Marketing Equivalent: Similarly, marketing automation solutions allow sales reps to identify the leads that best match their criteria for company size, annual revenue, industry and other relevant criteria. This can save you time and make your sales cycle more efficient.

Comprehensive Reporting
The value of a system like Dashboard goes well beyond organization. The Obama camp has been reluctant to release details of the platform beyond volunteer organization, but it seems like a safe bet that the platform will have robust reporting capabilities as well.

The Guardian reports that the information gathered by a volunteer at the community level will be immediately synced with campaign data from across the country and online. This sort of data recording will give the Obama campaign leaders insight into the re-election efforts in staggering detail.

Marketing Equivalent: Marketing automation solutions like Pardot are designed to provide a level of reporting and ROI that marketers have always dreamed of. By providing closed-loop reporting on each prospect, you can get a better insight into campaign performance than ever before.

While it is too soon to tell how Dashboard will impact the 2012 presidential campaign, it certainly seems poised to turn traditional campaign management on its head. Dashboard also marks an interesting point in the development of marketing automation solutions. The principles that have made it such a success for businesses are becoming attractive to those outside the business world. Although marketing automation is still in its infancy, it seems only a matter of time before it too is labeled the holy grail of digital campaigns.