When Amy Klobuchar decided to run for president, she turned to Rising Tide Interactive to grow her digital program into a national fundraising machine. Over the course of the campaign, RTI helped Amy for America raise over $42 million online and substantially grow her email and donor lists.
Our digital strategy, from paid list growth to email and SMS content, was focused on the Senator and her priorities and grounded in Amy Klobuchar’s brand from the very beginning.
The email program was used to highlight Senator Klobuchar’s grit and her tested ability to win voters who President Trump won in 2016. The urgency of finding a candidate who could beat Trump was a huge motivator for the online donor base and allowed us to stay true to Senator Klobuchar’s voice and campaign messaging while raising tens of millions online.
A key component of our ability to fundraise was capitalizing on big moments. Debates consistently provided strong fundraising opportunities, which we took advantage of with pre- and post-debate goals, mid-debate emails and increased frequency after debates. Ultimately, data illustrated that sending email out early the next day led to strong post-debate fundraising — allowing the campaign to tout the financial proof of momentum in earned media. We also used the Senator’s endorsements and polling numbers to illustrate her viability and drive people who were looking for a strong, viable candidate to donate to. Deadlines like end-of-quarter were also particularly motivating for the list, as we emphasized the public nature of FEC reporting and created a strong sense of urgency for donations.
The content of the email program mainly reflected and reiterated broader campaign messaging around the Senator’s history of winning, her ability to flip counties Donald Trump had won in 2016 and her plan to bring people with her as President. We consistently used outside validators and quotes from endorsements to demonstrate why the Senator was the most qualified candidate to help Democrats win big in 2020. We also reflected the uniqueness of her candidacy in our messages, with emails spotlighting her hotdish recipe, ability to raise money from her ex-boyfriends and her announcement in a blizzard.
Outside of maximizing fundraising, we also used our email program to achieve other goals. When the DNC announced the individual donor thresholds to qualify for the initial debates, we worked to convert non-donors on our list into donors through asks for one dollar, the promise of a free bumper sticker in exchange for a donation of any amount and bundling asks for other candidates to drive donor conversions. This strategy ensured that Senator Klobuchar qualified for every primary debate.
The investments made in growing a strong, well-qualified list meant we were able to effectively fundraise not just during the biggest moments but throughout the campaign. This list continues to be a crucial asset for the Senator — helping to raise over $1 million for competitive races ahead of the 2020 elections, including for President Biden.
During the presidential campaign, we generated just shy of 500,000 new names through paid acquisition advertising with an immediate ROI of nearly 250%. Before she was running for president, the Senator’s list was built on issues that were either specific to Minnesota or that were signature issues. This resulted in a list made primarily of Minnesotans — but one that was highly engaged with the Senator specifically.
For the presidential launch and after, we deployed list building ads related to the Senator’s specific policy vision and platform. We stayed away from anti-Donald Trump content because simply opposing the president is not qualifying in a competitive national primary. Similarly, prospecting for people who agree that we need to protect Social Security or Medicare or who agree on other core Democratic issues does not result in supporters who are qualified to prefer the Senator to another candidate running for the Democratic nomination.
We saw that goal-driven creative was generally the most effective. These included ads imparting on the prospect the importance of making sure that the Senator had enough donors to stay in the debates, end-of-month fundraising goals, and deadlines. Ads that reflected strong television appearances did surprisingly well, such as when the Senator appeared on the Rachel Maddow Show or the Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell.
SMS played a significant role in the fundraising capabilities of this program, allowing us to take advantage of big moments with text messages that grabbed supporter’s attention as soon as they were sent. We built this list in a variety of ways, including promoting the shortcode on posters, podium signage, and in email footers, as well as on the website and through signup and donation forms.
Fundraising messages sent via text message were largely reflective of the email program, with occasional nods to social media. This allowed us to be efficient in creating content and develop a surround sound approach to fundraising. We also leveraged the SMS list for non-fundraising asks, including videos, graphics and reminders to tune into television events such as town halls and debates.
In general, we saw strong performance on SMS around the same moments we saw strong email performance — debates, election results, and other moments of high engagement, with an overall total raised of almost $1 million.
While the bulk of social media was produced in-house, we assisted the campaign with production of high-impact assets. Amplifying the campaign’s core message in big moments like the presidential debates with videos and graphics that highlighted the Senator’s best lines also helped increase grassroots fundraising.
Post New Hampshire Debate Highlights
Our digital strategy for Senator Klobuchar’s presidential campaign successfully grew her list of supporters, helped her to make every debate stage and raised crucial funds in a crowded primary. This program was grounded in authentic content, data-driven strategy and innovative tactics, and it continues to serve the Senator as a national figure for the party.