Barack Obama won the presidency on a combination of many factors, but one often overlooked by marketing is the absolutely essential use of data. Obama’s campaign under manager David Plouffe was a data machine. Consider:

1. Web sites, social media, blogs, etc. – all with Google Analytics, which you could see on page load.

2. The Biden SMS play was brilliant. Get a bunch of people to sign up for your text messaging service by revealing your VP pick on mobile first, and you’ve populated your database.

3. The iPhone app was brilliant. In this Newsweek article, the app’s back end arranged the “call a friend” by states where the campaign wanted to focus. What might have seemed random or casual was in fact well thought out.

4. Email, email, email. Think email marketing is dead? Tell that to the campaign, which sent out more email than I could count, with different voices, topics, subjects, and every combination you could imagine.

5. Word of mouth. The Obama campaign actively encouraged word of mouth at every opportunity, from telling supporters at rallies to call and text friends to encouraging sharing of media by posting to YouTube, broadcasting on UStream, every avenue available to it.

The clear winner in the Obama campaign was marketing. It helped that the product was worth talking about, but without the massive, well-run marketing machine, we’d be talking about a very different president elect today.

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