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Rock the Vote ramps up mobile strategy for upcoming elections

Nonprofit Rock the Vote is increasing its focus on mobile for the upcoming primary season and into the 2012 presidential election as a way to deliver important content to hard-to-reach consumers and drive ongoing engagement. 

Rock the Vote, which focuses on empowering the young in the political process, began using mobile in 2008 with the sole goal of building a mobile opt-in database. However, as mobile use as grown in the past four years, the organization is now ramping up its efforts and using mobile polling, at live events and to drive voter registration and turnout.

?We use mobile in all of the registration and election Get Out the Vote pushes that we do,? said Chrissy Faesen, vice president of marketing and communications at Rock the Vote, Washington.

?It is very core to our program strategies and is integrated throughout out all of our work,? she said.

Mobile drives turnouts
Rock the Vote focuses on young people 18 to 29 years old, with a heavy concentration on young Hispanics, African-Americans, women and those who are underrepresented in the larger political process.

?Our ability to reach them at times is tough but they all have mobile phones,? Ms. Faesen said.

?Mobile is an easy way to communicate with them,? she said. ?We can send a text message with a link to an app where they can register to vote.?

The results are promising in terms of mobile?s ability to drive voter turnout.

?Mobile is crucial to our turnout campaigns,? Ms. Faesen said.

?We?ve done testing at primaries and we can actually see a 2-4 percent increase in turnouts on election days if we send a text the day before,? she said.

Rock the Vote is also tapping its mobile database for opinion polls.

The mobile opinion polls are a quick and easy way for Rock the Vote to generate content that can be used on its Web site and in its publications.

Starting in August, Rock The Vote worked with Mozes to power a coupon code campaign that gave its Facebook fans the chance to gain immediate access to Spotify without having to wait for an invite. The polling effort incorporated Mozes? data capture abilities, asking participants to text their email address in order to receive their Spotify link and answer questions about issues, which were posted online.

?Rock the Vote is recognizing that if want to reach younger audiences, anything mobile is going to get a higher recognition,? said Dorrian Porter, CEO at Mozes, Palo Alto, CA.

Live events
Engaging with live event attendees via mobile is another growth area.

?Being able to leverage mobile call to actions around live events, political rallies and fundraising dinners - that is an area that you will see really being taken advantage of in this next election,? Mr. Porter said.

?Mobile is essentially replacing the sign-up sheet at the back of the room for these events,? he said.

Rock the Vote is also using QR codes on merchandise tags and its calendar to enable users to register to vote and get exclusive content.

Going forward, the organization expects to use location-based services more frequently.

 ?Location-based check-ins have the ability to generate excitement around election day,? Ms. Faesen said. ?I think we will see a lot more of that as we head into 2012.?

Overall, Rock the Vote expects mobile?s role in the upcoming election season to be significant.

?I think mobile will play a bigger role in the upcoming election in terms of Get Out the Vote efforts and sharing information on election day,? Ms. Faesen said.

?Mobile will be incredibly important in terms of information sharing and making sure young voters have the information they need to vote,? she said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York