Ten Tips for Building Action-Oriented Websites from the Obama Campaign

Ten Tips for Building Action-Oriented Websites from the Obama Campaign

Chris Steins's picture

I had an opportunity to attend an engaging discussion on building action-oriented websites with Sam Graham-Felsen, President Barack Obama's chief campaign blogger, and the smart team at Cerrell Associates.

The discussion was excellent. Sam offers a friendly and grounded perspective on building websites that you only get from having hands-on experience running a high-profile, successful and popular website, like barackobama.com.

Screen shot of the Barack Obama website www.barackobama.com

Here are the major tips I took away from the discussion. The tips are great advice for anyone building a website.

1. Think like Apple: Eliminate any unnecessary stuff on the website.

2. It's not about you. It's about them. Make your website about the visitor.

3. Be clear about what differentiates your firm, brand, organization. Make this difference very clear.

4. Be clear about what action(s) you want a visitor to take. Contact you? Make a donation. Whatever these actions are, focus, focus, focus on them.

5. Think of your website as a funnel, where you try to get people to the bottom of the funnell to take an action, such as contacting you. Continue to simplify the process to make it as easy as possible to take that action.

6. These are the elements of a good action-oriented website:

  • Signup form
  • Clear statement of purpose
  • Clear donate button
  • Simple action asks (What you ask the visitor to do.)
  • Main news feature
  • Blog
  • Connection to other social media communities

7. Make sure the visual design is consistent across all company or campaign materials.

8. Use the same web address all the time. Mention the web address in public as much as possible. When Obama would do this, traffic to the website would spike up tremendously.

9. If you are going to have a blog, post as least weekly. If you don't have the resources to do this don't call it a blog.

10. If you have an organizational blog or social media strategy, assign at least one person to be the owner of the strategy to make sure your social media efforts are consistent and coordinated.

You can visit Sam's website, or contact him for consulting services.


Great tips. Thanks.

Ok, but now let's see you use the GOP candidate's website as an example. Why so one-sided?

I've also worked with Sam on several projects, and am continually impressed with his vision.

Would love to see an evaluation sometime of how political candidate websites decide how/when to use video, and how they find that the vast majority of visitors to the website use or engage with that video content.

nice post ... thanks for sharing.

Safari Books offers a nice excerpt about this as well:

Source: Basics Marketing 02: Online Marketing, By: Brian Sheehan

"What can the President of the United States
teach big brands about how to execute
effective social-network marketing? A lot.
In fact, Barack Obama’s online marketing
savvy was the key reason that he was named
Advertising Age magazine’s 2008 ‘Marketer
of the Year’, and won both the Integrated
Grand Prix and the Titanium Grand Prix
awards at the prestigious Cannes Advertising
Festival. (The Titanium award goes to the
most breakthrough concept of the year.)
For a politician – as opposed to a product,
service or charity – to win, or even be
mentioned for these awards, was absolutely
Obama’s success was due both to the reach
of his campaign and its social connectivity.
Although he was trying to win an election in
America, he built a fan following worldwide
over the Internet. The online campaign
enabled users and visitors to get involved,
share and contribute. Prasoon Joshi,
McCann Erickson’s executive chairman India,
and regional creative director of Asia, was on
the Cannes jury. He noted that, ‘Obama was
a brand created by the consumer, along with
the brand owner."

I wonder why President Obama has not been able to continue to use these techniques as effectively as President Obama, as he did as Candidate Obama. Perhaps being President requires a more conservative use of technology, sadly.


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