The Game Changer: Trump Vs Biden (Role of Marketing Automation in Modern Political Campaigns)

Ziel Lab
6 min readNov 4, 2020


As the 2020 U.S. election season reaches its final stage, political campaigns for the 670 national, state and congressional races, plus 180+ ballot measure votes, are exploring strategies that incorporate TV, print and other advertising elements available in digital media that can be effectively used during the pandemic.

Political marketers use the paid media with a mix of television, video and digital but recently the spending has increased on digital as the effectiveness and automation available in digital channels has drastically improved. With many Americans staying home more for safety reasons, and with turbulent issues rising in the US creating digital content waves, political marketers are using the issues relating to race, recession, and COVID-19 with an unwieldy mix of digital elements that has become pivotal in swinging a vote.

In the last month alone Trump & Biden have collectively spent $27 Million on social media roughly double what they spent in earlier months. Both figures eclipsed the campaign spending by the earlier candidates. These new filings reveal how the two presidential campaigns have adapted in the age of coronavirus, with both cutting down the expenditures on airfare and other travel costs, while increasing spending on advertising and call to action outreach campaigns for the supporters.

As marketers, we wonder that in the age of social distancing, how traditional advertising investment can be better, and perhaps how marketing automation & digital marketing could solve many problems for political campaigns. Most of the election campaign call to action is designed to focus on two important segments- either to acquire new followers or retain existing supporters.

Traditionally elections focused on offline campaigns that were mostly on ground and digital campaigns through television or radio but no one comes closer to the power marketing automation tools have to offer. Since 2008, digital marketing has taken over the US presidential elections with huge budget allocations to modern digital mediums like websites, apps, social media etc. Barack Obama used Dashboard as a marketing automation tool during his two elections in 2008 and 2012 respectively. The moment he started using it, it brought about an evolution in the process of campaigning during elections. Similarly Donald Trump came to power with an intelligent use of Digital campaigns to sway voters in his favor.

While the candidates usually used to rally voters in different parts of the country as part of their offline strategy, serving selective yet relevant content which couldn’t be possible keeping safety issues in mind this year so the focus has shifted to websites and social media channels to give more emphasis on their online strategy.

Segments and Sub Segments

Marketing technology has been used to target voters by segregating them and creating a voter persona so that it can effectively build strategies to influence different personas at different scales across parties and marketing automation is one such tool that is aiding the online campaigners. Marketing automation helps campaigners target relevant content at specific audiences to attract and convert them. Think about voter sub segments based on gender, race, age, economic status, political affiliations etc.

Trump’s total spend this year shows the largest share of his Facebook ad dollars spent on people who are 55 or older whereas Biden’s campaign spends the most money on the age 35–44 demographic. Both campaigns spent less targeting people between 18 and 24, probably because young people are less likely to turn out to vote than their elders. This all has been achieved by segmenting voters and having their persona’s in mind.

In fact, in the US Facebook already offers the option to target ads to audiences based on their political affiliations. It wouldn’t be surprising to know that Facebook with an estimated 220 Million users does not offer similar ad targeting options to ‘select’ advertisers. Add the number of Instagram and WhatsApp users in the United States and you get an ‘ audience reach’ unmatched by any medium — digital or traditional that too at a cost that is much cheaper than a TV advertisement.

A Deeper Level of Understanding

Marketing automation allows the political parties to capture information of the voters when they engage with online content, and then tracks their digital footprints. Both the parties get to benefit from this. Through this the political parties get access to the voter information, the voter in turn gets access to content they want to consume. In addition to that, tools like marketing automation eliminate all those activities that would waste time & energy and directly track a lead. They can simply segment and score the lead to find out who is qualified and who is not.

Powerful Insights

Marketing automation helps the Presidential candidate to listen to what people have to say about them and at the same time provides data about the voter through that they can tap into any social media channel at any given point in time to find out how the world is reacting to their actions. That itself makes a big impact as to how a brand like the Presidential candidate spends their campaign budget.

With such insights, candidates build their personal brand which helps them to engage with the audience in a non-invasive way and so far it has been a great success all over. Marketing automation also helps the candidates’ campaigning team to effectively analyze how the campaigns are performing and which channels are giving them the biggest return for their investment.

One can say that marketing automation helps the candidate to analyze the voter’s prospective and the source of the same tools during these times. When you can track every online footprint, there is not much to hide, is there?

Paving Way for Something New

The nature of the campaign does not matter when it comes to making decisions based on user data. Whether it is political or business, the decision focus remains the same. To convert a lead into a voter means getting believers to influence their friends and family, and influencing complete strangers through the power of compelling content. When it comes to closing the deal, well, you will just have to wait it out and see for yourself when the election results are revealed on November 3rd.

Marketing automation is a game-changer in all aspects of modern business and it’s not surprising that political parties adopted it as well. Marketers have benefited from it and so have companies around the world. It is already being used by companies to change their fortunes, politicians and governments across the world to win elections, and who knows what’s next?

Technology may already have an answer to who’s winning the 2020 US elections. For the rest of us, waiting until the results are announced is the only option.

About Ziel Lab

Ziel is a boutique marketing lab, based in Bangalore, India, and we build laser focussed campaigns for your inbound and outbound marketing.

While our experience spans a wide variety of projects and disciplines, our clients all share one common thread: They are all serious professionals who excel at what they do, and understand thevalue of great campaigns. If that sounds like you, send us a message and let’s talk.

“Targeting in Marketing: How to Include it in Your … — Alexa Blog.” Accessed 12 Oct. 2020.

“In just one month, Trump and Biden spent $27 million on ….” 9 Oct. 2020, Accessed 12 Oct. 2020

“How Political Campaigns Could Benefit from Marketing ….” 6 Nov. 2012, Accessed 12 Oct. 2020.

“Trump increases advertising spending during pandemic ….” 21 Jul. 2020, Accessed 12 Oct. 2020.