Laura Ebke for Legislature - redesign

After winning her campaign for Nebraska Legislature and a successful session in the Nebraska Legislature, Senator Ebke was looking to reconfigure her website. In her words: "The goal was to move away from 'campaign mode' and to begin providing a source for information for you [constituents]."

Originally, her website was entirely configured for a campaign. Much of the site was informational; there was quite a bit of content explaining Laura's views on the issues. The rest of the site was setup to encourage interaction with the campaign: Facebook, Twitter, Mailing lists (MailChimp), direct mail to Laura, etc.

After winning the campaign and spending a session in the Legislature, much of the website was no longer necessary. There was no campaign to speak of and much of her interaction with members of her district had to do with actual governance, including specific votes, positions, and pieces of legislation.

The first issue to tackle in this rebuild was to create a new design. The old design was modeled after the hightest rated websites of the 2012 campaign season. The design was starting to look dated by the time we started (~July 2015). We worked to create a full witdth, mobile responsive design with a significant amount of white space. Our goal was to give the website a move "senatorial" feel.

In addition to revamping the design, we worked with Laura expanding the capabilities of the website to help her and her staff effectively manage constituent relations. The first part of this build was to install and setup a CRM system, CiviCRM. CiviCRM is a very complex tool with many modules. We decided only to setup a few of them while Laura and her staff got used to the new system: CRM, Events, Mailing, and Contributions.

The first item of business was to seed the data base with a list of voters and their voting histories. While this list can be obtained from the State of Nebraska, this list costs around $500. A much more cost effective alternative was to use the NationBuilder Election Center. Voter lists can be obtained by canidates and elected officials for their districts for free. This list for Laura's district contained almost 30,000 records. Obviously, this was far to many to input by hand; we created a custom import script that generated all the necessary custom fields and imported all the data automatically. (If you are interested in a simpler project contact us for a quote.)

Next we imported all the other data lists Laura had put together over the two and a half years of campaigning and legislating. We merged together all the records we could identify with their counter parts from the election file.

Finally, we setup a custom signup page. This page allows constituents to signup to receive legislative updates from Laura. By entering their name, zip code, and email, we are able to identify the records from the voter file and merge their emails and interests into their contact record in the CRM. This allows Laura to effectively identify and update people on the happenings in the Legislature.

lauraebkeredesign signup
Custom signup form

Bulk mailing these constituents required extra setup. Laura's website was setup to utilize the mail delivery service Mailgun. Utilizing Mailgun removed much of the responsibility of bulk mailing. While CiviCRM does manage unsubscribe and bounces quite well, Mailgun provides another layer of protection against sending unwanted bulk mail.

Another part of the build involved taking donations on the website. Security being of the utmost concert, we setup Laura's website with a SSL certificate to encrypt all traffic in and out. We also utilized Stripe as the payment processor. They have a unique way of allowing donations to be taken on site, but all sensitive payment details are transmitted directly to their servers, greatly reducing the chance of a compromise. All donation are tracked in the CRM as well.

The final, and most unique part of the build, was email processing. As Laura receives email, the CRM system automatically processes it and and records its. Her staff then can work through this mail and tag parties as interested in various topic. This all happens in the background, greatly reducing the man-power necessary to categorize and respond to email. 

Not only is data automatically pushed in the CRM, Laura and her staff can manually add information in the management area. They can record phone calls in the contact record, event attendees, and in person interaction. This all helps build a better knowledge of how constituents feel about various legislation. 

With the combination of the voter data, signup form, email tracking, and on-site donation capabilities, Laura will be able to effectively interact with her constituents. She can keep track of how voters feel about various topics and keep interested parties updated as legislation progresses through the Legislature.

Tags: political, conservative, nebraska, civicrm, crm

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