Gini Dietrich

How Trump’s Campaign is Killing it at Digital Marketing

By: Gini Dietrich | November 1, 2016 | 

How Trump's Campaign is Killing it at Digital MarketingLet’s set aside politics for a second and talk about something fascinating, shall we?

Trump’s campaign is killing it at digital marketing and I am astounded.


I had no idea they were this smart and I’m kind of impressed.

Last week, a Bloomberg journalist was given a very unusual peek behind the curtains and what they found will also astound you.

Sometimes Expertise Beats Experience

In San Antonio, there is a nerve center that handles all of the digital marketing for the campaign…and it’s led by novices.

It’s run by Brad Parscale, a political novice who built web pages for the Trump family’s business and charities.

The story goes like this…

One day in 2010, Parscale was asked if he wanted to bid on building the Trump website.

In the Bloomberg article, Parscale relays what happened:

I said yeah and bid $10,000 on the first website. I think they were shocked how cheap it was. Next thing I know, I’m talking to Ivanka. So they signed a contract with me, and I wrote the website by myself. I told ’em I’d give all the money back if they didn’t like it.

The Trumps liked the website and Parscale kept the money.

He continued to build sites for the family and, when Trump launched a presidential exploratory committee, he called on Parscale.

He built the site for $1,500.

By then he had partnered with a local designer and was running a shop called Giles-Parscale.

Today he’s running a 100-person digital marketing operation for Trump’s campaign.

How to Discover Your Prospects

As Parscale got more involved in the day-to-day operations, he discovered the campaign was speaking solely to those who already liked and supported Trump.

Just like you would with any digital marketing strategy, Parscale led his team to discover undecided voters to begin to sway their decisions.

Because the campaign hadn’t cultivated Trump’s supporters as donors or volunteers, most of what it knew about them came from requests for tickets to his rallies.

They used EventBrite as their ticketing and RSVP system and weren’t able to get the kind of information they needed from it.

So they built their own…and suddenly they had a system that not only collected email addresses, but contact information and credit card numbers.

It also had an added layer that would weed out protestor requests and collect supporters’ phone numbers.

Through this new system Parscale built, they identified 13.5 million undecided voters in 16 battleground states.

While they did have some of the information they needed on undecided voters, they also bought email lists from Newt Gingrich and Tea Party groups to prospect for others.

The Digital Marketing Campaign

And so began their digital marketing campaign.

As they began to build Facebook ads, they tested different calls-to-action.

Some linked directly to a payment page while others to a sign-up page that asked for name, email, and address.

Parscale also created A/B testing among design shops to help determine which social media ads were the most effective.

In a reality show-style approach, those companies that fared the worst in drumming up donors, lost their contracts with the campaign.

Today, his team spends $70 million per month to cultivate a universe of millions of fervent Trump supporters.

Most of them are reached through “dark” posts on Facebook.

Email Addresses Represent the Golden Ticket

They expect to have 14 million email addresses by campaign day.

To put that in perspective, the Republican National Committee has only six million email addresses.

And, because he funded his own campaign, all of this belongs to him after November 8. 

Only time will tell what happens on election day, but rumor has it these email addresses will be used to launch a Trump TV network.

As digital marketers, we know an email address is worth $3-$8.

This puts his list worth anywhere between $42 and $112 million.

That’s more than enough to build a business, starting on November 9.

And it’s more than enough to learn a lot about how to run a digital marketing campaign.

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!