Though still more than a year off, the 2016 Presidential elections have already captured the nation’s attention; a phenomenon most pronounced on social media, where chatter about campaign logos, political agendas, and questionable candidates continues to reign. It’s fair to assume that this online political discourse will only intensify as November 2016 closes in. This looming prospect of viral political marketing could very well impact the costs associated with digital marketing—even for marketers not working in the political arena. As a result, it could also affect marketers’ social media spending, especially in the small business sector.
Cost-per-click (CPC) pricing—a popular pricing model for sponsoring and boosting posts on Facebook and other networks—may increase as politicians inundate the Web with campaign materials. “I don’t think it’s going to be like Black Friday, where CPCs skyrocket, but I do think that in battleground states we are going to see a large increase in CPCs, which could impact small business owners, and companies that may not have the budget to start paying 10% to 15% more for clicks,” says Molly McCarty, senior social account manager at digital agency 3Q Digital.
Price increases are just one factor marketers may have to deal with here. Given the sweeping changes in digital media since the last presidential election, marketers will have some serious competition for consumers’ attention on social platforms.
“Obviously, it’s every four years that the presidential elections come up, and I don’t think Facebook, or any of the social media platforms were such a big deal then,” McCarty says. “I really think this is the first test to see how social media will be used as an advertising platform by these candidates.”
Uncertainty abounds, but marketers can prepare themselves against the coming CPC inflation. Here are three ways to do so:
Analyze your geographic performance
The marketers behind the various candidates’ campaigns aren’t likely to spend an equal amount in each state. Some candidates will perform better in a given state, and it’s that state, and its communities, that will probably see the most marketing from the candidates. Marketers should aim to ensure that efforts overlap in these geographies as little as possible.
“Look at performance by [geography] at the state level,” McCarty advises. “You can see how the CPCs are different for the different states, and what your performance is like in each of those states. If you find that some of those battleground states aren’t even in your top performing states, then you can start excluding them. If those states aren’t main drivers of performance for your business, you aren’t going to miss out by excluding them.”
Test your creative
Compelling, concise copy and superb images are the hallmarks of effective social media marketing across the various networks. This is especially true of Facebook, the most prolific of the top social networks. In the years since President Obama won a second term, Facebook has soared past 1 billion users, and remains one of the most scalable platforms.
“On Facebook, your cost-per-click is going to be determined by your click-through rate. Facebook really cares about pushing content that users want to see,” McCarty says. “When [Facebook] sees a high percentage of people clicking your ad they’re more likely to push it out, and they’ll do it at a lower cost-per-click.”
Tighten CPC bids
Of course, marketers can always preemptively adjust their current CPC bids before the elections truly grip the market.
“Maybe you’re paying $1.25 per click right now, and bidding $1.50. You may want to lower your bid down to $1.27 so it doesn’t get out of control and you find yourself paying much more than you expected,” McCarty says. “[Lowering bids] won’t impact you now. It’s a safety net so that when those bids start going up, your cost-per-click won’t go higher than $1.27.”