How voting organisers tapped FOMO marketing to convince nearly 2m people not to miss voting

The Electoral Commission has tapped into people’s fear of missing out (FOMO) in order to convince 1.7 million people to register in just five weeks.

When the clock strikes midnight tonight (20 April) the up to 7.5 million people in the UK who remain unregistered, will have missed the chance to have their voice heard on 7 May. That is the way politicians are spinning a picture of a worrying, rising apathy toward politics, most notably among 18-to-24 year olds.

Last summer, the Electoral Commission revealed 7.5 million eligible voters were not registered, an imposing number that jostled it into developing its most comprehensive campaign to date. Spanning partnerships with Facebook, Twitter and Channel 4’s Gogglebox alongside mobile for the first time, TV and print, the nationwide campaign mines behavioural economics to make people feel compelled to register.

The tie-ups with Facebook and Twitter are reflective of the lengths the campaign is going to in order to boost the electoral roll, an approach which is already showing signs of success. That almost two million people have registered to vote since the campaign began is testament to this, and is made all the more impressive after Office for National Statistics data showed 800,000 fell off the electoral roll in 2014.

The loss-aversion play is one of the oldest in marketing and political campaigning though has not been as prevalent in efforts to encourage people to vote until now. Buoyed by technology under the weight of fears that next month’s poll will once again plummet to a record low turnout, voting organisers were able to craft what they believe is one of their more emotive efforts to date.

But there is no point having emotional ads if the campaign isn’t stacked in a way that lets people act on them. It is why the ability for people to register to vote online for the first time was such a gamechanger, allowing the campaign to feel more like a closed loop in terms of media. Until now, voting organisers were bound by the old-school process of getting people to fill and then send off forms, which meant it was harder to keep people interested in the call to action from the moment they saw its ads.

Michael Abbott, head of campaigns at the Electoral Commission, said it has made a more “conscious effort” to invest in new channels. “That’s not to say we haven’t used them in the past but we can do the complete customer journey now,” he continued.

“That means we measure the overall impression toward the campaign, across more touchpoints while giving customers that complete experience of knowing they can go straight from being prompted to knowing that they have completed a transaction i.e. registering to vote in a matter of minutes.”

The campaign ends today though Abbott said the strategy behind it will be honed and refined for other election opportunities as it looks to build a more diverse electoral room.

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