In the early morning hours of June 23rd, tens of thousands of Vote Leave activists received the first of five push notifications from campaign head Boris Johnson spurring them to action:
He would check in with them again at 10am, 12 pm, 4pm, and 8pm (“TEXT YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY!! Just 2 hours till polls close. Every message makes a difference. Don’t lose this opportunity to make a difference!”).
The polls leading up to the the day pegged the contest as a dead heat, but trending towards Remain.
In fact, the final outcome as everyone now knows was a shocking victory for Leave, with 52%-48%.
How did Leave over-perform the polls and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat?
In part, through an app they chose to deploy in the final three weeks of the campaign to aid their GOTV strategy.
An example of Vote Leave promoting the app
Starting June 1, the official UK Vote Leave coalition aggressively recruited over 30,000 supporters to download the official smartphone app — an impressive adoption rate to be sure — by promoting it via their social networks (paid and organic), email and text file.
As they put it in an email to their supporters, the app was central to their overall plan:
“Using this will make a huge difference, and will really help the campaign reach every village, town and city across the UK.”
By election day, the Vote Leave campaign was prepared to unleash a torrent of activity to get the word out and get their supporters to the polls across the country, and that included plentiful push notifications and peer-to-peer messaging so the supporters could use the app as a personal broadcasting platform.
The individuals who received these messages were greeted by a text or email from a friend or family member they already knew, creating a powerful impression with a 98% delivery and open rate. The social media was similarly more effective because it was created organically by individual supporters (as opposed to retweets and Facebook shares).
The app could also help out in more rural areas where it was harder to go door to door, and helped connect and remind supporters in remote regions that they were part of a much wider effort.