Political campaigns are an interesting thing to watch, from the perspective of marketing. And you can learn alot by watching the political campaigns in action.

If you remove yourself from the emotions of whichever candidate you support (or hate) and instead just watch from a MARKETING perspective, the lessons are many.

In 2008, Barack Obama won the presidency, in large part, because his campaign did a MUCH better job with their marketing. They knew what their target audience needed and wanted. They molded the image of Obama to match that need and want. And they had one of the best online marketing machines I’ve ever seen in modern politics.

When you compared that to the comparatively lame online marketing machine of John McCain, it is no wonder Obama won.

As we move into 2012, the dynamics have changed, but the importance of the online marketing game has only increased.

The Obama folks clearly “get” how this works. The Obama campaign website is very well set up in terms of collecting leads and mobilizing action. Even the White House official website has a squeeze page. 🙂

On the GOP side, we have 4 guys (as of this writing) trying to unseat Obama: Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich.

How are their websites?

Well, I sat down and recorded a short website critique for each of the 4. I posted them to Youtube and I added them to a playlist. Here it is:

If you’re in an RSS reader or reading by email, you can click here to view the playlist: GOP Presidential Candidates – Website Critiques.

My main purpose was evaluating each site in terms of CONVERSIONS. In terms of collecting a lead, donations, and generally getting people to take action. I looked at things like:

  • Were they collecting email addresses easily (and without extra clicks)?
  • Were the calls to action obvious?
  • Was the site cluttered?
  • Did the eye get pulled into the most important site elements?

Not to be a spoiler (the videos go into details), but here’s how I ranked the 4 candidates – in terms of websites alone….

#1 – Newt Gingrich
#2 – Ron Paul (but VERY close to Newt… I had a hard time deciding on which to make #1, but I gave Newt the edge because of his email signup form)
#3 – Mitt Romney (nice looking site, but too busy.)
#4 – Rick Santorum (honestly, the site looks amateur compared to the other 4 candidates. And is the worse in terms of conversion factors.)

This is obviously my opinion, but it is based on my own experience doing this kind of thing for awhile.

What do YOU think? Agree? Disagree?

And keep in mind… this isn’t about which candidate we think is best (although I’m not going to stop you from saying who you support in the comments if you want)… this is just about the marketing ability of their official campaign websites.

OK, your turn. 🙂

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