Digital Organizing Tech: 2020 Investments and Learnings

  1. What core functionality do we need to build to enable staff to execute on their voter contact program plans?
  2. How can we design the most intuitive volunteer experience across our platforms that achieves our organizing goals?
  3. How do we ensure our tools can scale to handle the massive volunteer energy being built up across our voter contact programs?

Platform Learnings

When needed and if possible, utilize dedicated infrastructure and run with two tools for core programs

For our calls programs, our campaign primarily utilized ThruTalk — a predictive dialer that automatically dials cell phones and landlines, connecting a volunteer with the next available voter that picks up. This allowed our teams to optimize our volunteers’ time to have far more conversations. Our campaign collectively made a record breaking 332 million calls.

Personalization is key to optimizing on multiple goals simultaneously

The JoeBiden.com website was the starting point for many new supporters to get involved with the campaign. The website needed to optimize for 3 key goals — donations, votes, and volunteer recruitment.

Website experience for PA visitors

Experiment with new methods and platforms

One of the biggest limitations our campaign had while organizing during a pandemic was not being able to reach key voters that we didn’t have phone numbers for. We experimented with reaching those voters over Facebook, via click to messenger ads, and have them engage in a conversation with a chatbot. We partnered with Authentic Campaigns to place ads and utilized the Amplify.ai platform to build out the conversational flows.

Scale how you guide your supporters and volunteers

Voting during a pandemic was going to be new for our supporters who were either unsure of how they should vote or wanted to learn more about how to vote by mail or vote early — and have never done so before.

Automate core and time consuming tasks for your staff and volunteers

Automating key tasks became crucial to help staff train and support more volunteers at scale.

Strategy and Operations

Roadmapping

To ensure we focused on the highest impact projects, we established the following framework for prioritizing projects with vendors and internal analytics/tech teams:

  • Core functionality also included stability and scalability improvements to make sure platforms could stay up as growth rates exponentially grew — and these were always prioritized first. The exception sometimes was quick wins to solve strong pain points or critical upcoming program needs.
  • Before investing in optimizations, we made sure to prioritize capturing platform utilization data. This helped to understand where to invest improvements in and learn more about volunteer and voter behavior.
  • Optimizations generally were looked at through a lens of increasing voter contact attempts, improving quality of attempts, or improving staff workflows.
  • Quality vs. quantity is a hard balance to strike — but we’d evaluate that trade-off by looking at analytics (e.g. comparing growth rate of voter contact attempts vs. retention / conversation quality) and feedback of pain points affecting staff/volunteers.

Buy vs. build

The 2020 cycle was the first presidential cycle that was able to invest in mostly partnering with existing tech vendors to provide voter contact and volunteer engagement tools vs. building platforms from scratch because of the growth and investment of the political tech space. Thus, we bought tools that met our needs, fit our budget, and had been proven to show results.

Support and feedback loops

One of the hardest yet most critical pieces of managing organizing tools on a presidential campaign (with 17 state teams and a national distributed team) is ensuring all teams get the support and training they need, and that a steady cadence of feedback is collected from team members utilizing the tools to inform roadmap and scoping decisions.

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Vishal Disawar

Vishal Disawar

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Organizing enthusiast. Past: Digital organizing platforms director @JoeBiden | @ewarren | @LetsMobilizeUS | @highergroundlab | @HFA