Monthly Archives: May 2012
Measuring communication channel experiences and their influence on voting in the 2010 British General Election
Summary of a research paper by Paul Baines, Professor in Political Marketing at Cranfield School of Management
Political parties can track customer responses to customer experience holistically and in real time.
The authors sought to find out how the election campaign influenced voting intentions and what role was played by different communication channels. Few studies have evaluated the effectiveness of different marketing techniques in politics because they mostly focus on voter intention. This means that research so far has also been unable to gauge the persuasiveness of messages received. The evaluation of communication channel effectiveness is equally sparse in commercial settings.
This study takes a new approach by looking at the influence of different marketing communications, over time, during the 2010 British General Election. The results indicate, for the first time, the relative importance to floating voters of a wide range of “touchpoints” that conveyed the brands of all three main political parties. These “touchpoints” include debates, word of mouth, party election broadcasts and posters. The research was conducted among a sample of 1100 floating voters and combines an online and mobile phone survey covering “touchpoints” encountered over a four week period.
These two examples illustrate the type of results obtained:
- People who intended to vote Liberal Democrat and reported a conversation about Labour were three times less likely to vote Conservative.
- The viewing of a Labour party election broadcast by people who had initially intended to vote Conservative was significantly associated with switching to Labour.
The main contribution of this study is to illustrate how political parties (and other brands) can track customer responses to customer experience holistically and in real time. These responses can be used to evaluate the impact of multi-channel communications. It opens the way for experimentation with customer insight techniques in order to gain competitive advantage.
A further contribution is the illustration of how floating voters experienced different “touchpoints” during the 2010 general election. The first election campaign debate offers a particularly strong example of this in its impact on the floating voter.
For practitioners in political marketing the study pilots an innovative approach to measuring the effectiveness of varying communication channels in influencing floating voters.
Baines, P., Macdonald, E., Wilson, H. & Blades, F. (2011) Measuring communication channel experiences and their influence on voting in the 2010 British General Election, Journal of Marketing Management, vol. 27, no. 7-8, pp. 691-717.