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Jan 9

First steps on using data to make better decisions

The second question of this week’s polichat centered on how down-ticket races could integrate big data into their campaigns when they don’t have the large budgets of national races. The dirty secret is that these down ticket races already have data. That’s not the problem. The problem is that candidates and campaign managers aren’t making decisions based off of the data nor do they have the skill sets necessary to properly analyze it.

You don’t need hundreds of engineers, designers and silicon valley whiz-kids to have a successful, data-driven campaign. Between your website analytics; simple A/B testing of your donation pages and emails; and, your email list, donor list and voter list you already have a great start. Start by doing simple tests with your donation page and emails to see what messages and formats raise you more money. Then look at your donor list and start looking for trends - how are most people donating, how often do people give again, what’s the average donation, etc. Just start looking for simple trends. If you want to get more in the weeds consider taking a stats class through a free online website like coursera.org

I’m by no means a data scientist. I’m a political operative who likes data. But when I was at the NRSC I was just one person on a two person team. We didn’t do anything very elaborate, but something as simple as testing donation pages helped us increase our donations by 194 percent. That made a big difference. If you are on a small campaign don’t think that you can’t incorporate data into your decisions. You have the data, just take the first step on using it to make better decisions.

Katie Harbath is a Manager for Policy at Facebook