Digital campaigns: Key assets in the race to the White House
Websites are a key digital asset in U.S. presidential campaigns, as they not only promote the candidate and their ideas and messages, but also serve as a vital tool for attracting funding and volunteers. Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has limited other physical channels for promoting candidates and attracting funding, websites have taken on increased importance.
In general terms, the two candidates’ websites both share these goals. However, they show clear differences in the user experience strategy, with each candidate implementing something slightly different.
On one hand, Democratic candidate Joe Biden knows he must enhance awareness of his proposals, so on his website we can see increased attention to enhancing the first stages of the conversion funnel (Attraction and Discovery). Incumbent President Donald Trump, however, already has a strong position within his target public, allowing him to focus on a stronger conversion strategy. This means he does not have to work as hard on the Awareness stage, allowing him to be more direct and focus his efforts on the Adhesion and Mobilization stages.
Similarly, we see that Trump’s campaign is very focused on his personal image, giving social media a leading role. Biden’s website, on the other hand, contains more information and is closely aligned with his ideas and opinions. This is because, being the challenger in this race, he has a greater need to send clear messages.
On a technical level, if we look at the Authority Score – a patented metric used to measure a websites general quality and influence in terms of SEO – donaldjtrump.com has a slightly higher ranking than joebiden.com, though both are well-optimized in terms of traceability and performance, as well as being correctly indexed and linked to from multiple relevant sources.
Attraction: The main goal
Both websites have a similar visual design, using the colors on the U.S. flag, as well as dramatic pictures and videos. However, the Democratic candidate’s site is much richer and deeper in terms of content.
On an informative level, donaldjtrump.com stands out for its simplicity. It does not go into detail at any level, focusing more closely on attracting campaign volunteers and funding. It also emphasizes the citizen coalitions that support the candidate and, as a key unifying pillar, social media.
Joebiden.com shares the aim of attracting volunteers and campaign funding but, unlike his rival, his website contains more information, employing longer and more explanatory texts.
Pop-ups to attract funding on both websites
Both sites have multi-language options, including a Spanish version. This clearly indicates the importance of the Hispanic community to the U.S. elections, something that has been emphasized in states such as Florida, where this voting bloc could play a decisive role. However, while Biden’s site has the same content in both languages, Trump’s website is not fully translated; it only covers a reduced version in Spanish.
Quantity vs. Quality: Trump wins hands-down in number of visits, but Biden dominates in engagement
In terms of total traffic, Trump’s website has seen much higher traffic than Biden’s over the recent months, going as far as tripling his opponent’s numbers in June and July. Though there has been a rising trend in the number of visits to the Democratic candidate’s site, his numbers are still far behind the incumbent president’s. In August, for example, Trump’s site recorded 27 million visits, compared to just 12.7 million to Biden’s, according to data from SimilarWeb.
However, the Democratic candidate comes out on top in all qualitative metrics. His visitors spend more time on his website (1m 52s on joebiden.com vs. 1m 24s on donaldjtrump.com) and browse more pages (2.5 pages per visit for Biden vs 1.6 for Trump). Even more revealing, Biden’s visitors have a much lower bounce rate (49% for the Democrat vs. 70% for the Republican). This metric reflects the number of visits in which the user leaves the home page without clicking on it further or visiting another page on the site, and it is fundamental in assessing the engagement and quality of each visit; users who visit a page and immediately leave are either not interested in what they see or have arrived there through some form of deceit, as happens with clickbait techniques.
Where Do Their Visitors Live?
Most organic traffic to both sites is direct, strengthening the idea that users who visit these sites already know they want to browse them. In terms of figures from search engines, Trump has double the number of searches than Biden. He has an even greater advantage in traffic due to his social media accounts. This is an area the incumbent has always felt comfortable, even making this one of the launch pads for his campaign.
In terms of geographic origin, both sites predictably see more traffic from the United States, though donaldjtrump.com has a much higher national concentration than his challenger, with U.S. users accounting for 98% of all visits. In contrast, the Democratic candidate receives more visits from abroad, particularly from Canada and the United Kingdom.
This article has been composed by collaboration of Kiko García Donate, Consultor from the Digital area in LLYC, and Samuel Cruzado, Junior Consultant from the Digital area, LLYC.