Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Tracking Voter Activity

An example of a voter activity graph provided by OpaVote that shows a count of email opens, visits, and votes over time.
We are excited to announce a new feature in OpaVote to help managers understand what their voters are doing!
One of the hardest parts of running an election is getting voters to vote.  For many OpaVote elections, voter turnout is only 10-25%.  If you want to improve that turnout it is helpful to know what your voters are doing.

OpaVote is now tracking two new statistics of voters: (1) whether they opened the voting email, and (2) whether they visited the voting page.  We track these in a couple different ways:
  • Opens -- The total number of times a voting email was opened.  If a single voter opens the email twice, then both of those are counted.
  • Unique Opens -- The total number of voters who have opened the voting email.  If a single voter opens the email many times, this counts as only one unique open.
  • Visits -- The total number of visits to a voting page (after clicking the voting link in the voting email).
  • Unique Visits -- The total number of voters who have visited the voting page.
  • Votes -- The total number of voters who have voted.  There is no need for unique votes since a voter can only vote once. :)
In addition to providing the total number of these, we also track them on an hourly basis.  Above we show an example.  In the first hour, there were 13 email opens, 12 visits, and 10 votes.  The numbers quickly decrease until the next morning when voters start checking their emails again.

Here are a few ways you can use this information:
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of reminder emails.  You can remind all voters every three days and you can see how many people voted after receiving the reminder email.  Perhaps changing the text of the reminder email will get more people to vote.
  • Evaluate the interest of your voters in the election.  If the open rate or the visit rate is very low, then you way want to reevaluate the purpose of the election.  Perhaps you don't need to have an election to determine which brand of toilet paper to buy?
  • Evaluate the voting page itself.  For most elections, almost every voter who visits the voting page ends up casting a vote.  If you have a lot of people visiting the voting page and not voting, then perhaps there is something wrong with the voting page.  It might be confusing, not have enough information, or may have too many choices (e.g., 20 contests with 15 candidates in each contest).
You may be curious how we track email opens.  A common practice is to use tracking pixels or web beacons.  When a voter opens a voting email, the email client downloads a small image from a server, and we can detect when that image is downloaded.  Some people disable the downloading of such images so the number of reported email opens will be less than the actual number of email opens.

We hope you enjoy this new feature, and we always appreciate feedback as to how we can make OpaVote work better for you.