If the previous major election years are any indication, this will indeed be a busy time for database marketers. Here’s a primer on the nuances of actual voter registration records, versus overlayed consumer files.
U.S. Registered Voter Data is just that, it is the actual voter registration records associated with each state. These files are not universally available, and are only provided by a handful of data providers who have been pre-approved individually by each state.
Who can use voter data?
This data is only available for use by political candidates, registered political action committees (PACs), or special interest groups involved in political ventures. While all states require that that users certify themselves as qualified to use the data, in the states of California, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Hawaii prior approval must be obtained before each separate mailing.
What if you don’t qualify to use voter data?
For those seeking to relay a political message but don’t qualify to use U.S. Registered Voter Data, consumer data can be a great alternative. A consumer is a constituent. They are a person with an address in a voting district that has a demographic and lifestyle makeup of interest to politically-minded mailers.
However, using a consumer file for political ventures gets complicated because you need to be very adept at selecting an audience that will be receptive to the message. You can narrow down demographics, geo, gender, income, home ownership, age and do a pretty good job on ethnicity. Lifestyle and interest selects become a finessed quality best left to experts who can pinpoint those who would be receptive to a candidate, PAC, or special interest message. As with many different types of database usage, political mailing is a back and forth of multiple “touches” with a lot of scrubbing for removals.
What are the differences between uses?
Here’s a good way to understand the difference between the uses of a U.S. Registered Voter Data file as opposed to a consumer data file. If the message is actionable within a voting booth it qualifies.
Let’s say you have a client that is a special interest group looking to target parents to get their message out. If they are directly promoting an actual candidate or upcoming amendment or referendum that voters could vote on in that state or area, then they can use U.S. Registered Voter Data. If they are just doing so to get their own agenda and point of view out to the audience, then they would not qualify to use the file and would have to use a consumer file to reach their audience.
Andrew Marcus is CEO/partner of Media One.