An example of the Vote Leave coalition promoting their app

Brexit? There Was An App for That

Thomas Peters
Jun 24, 2016 · 4 min read

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 overperform 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 — 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.

Top Vote Leave “Apptivists”: 3rd place Ali Bevan, 1st place Lacey Butcher and 2nd place Peter Bush

The top three activists on the app were all young people, who combined sent thousands of messages to their peers explaining why they were voting leave. Though support for Leave trended older, 18% of the Vote Leave app users were under 30.

The Vote Leave campaign offered prizes to increase engagement: campaign mugs and t-shirts, signed books by Daniel Hannon, and to top supporters, a Vote Leave poster signed by Boris Johnson and the team.

The official Vote Leave app homescreen

My company created the official Vote Leave app using an evolution of the same tech we employed to help Ted Cruz and to assist Danilo Medina’s as President of the Dominican Republic last month.

On election, tens of thousands of Vote Leave activists used the app to send targeted voting reminders to their friends and family via email, text and social (they sent over 100,000 such messages) as well as publicizing #VoteLeave and #TakeControl statuses to their Facebook and Twitter accounts and posting to the app newsfeed to inspire each other to take action.

The Vote Leave coalition was able to instantly reach and manage their supporters throughout the day via push notifications and custom action alerts (many signed by Boris Johnson himself) to react in realtime to whatever was happening during the course of the day and to keep everyone connected and engaged.

Supporters on the Vote Leave app generated a total of nearly 200,000 actions during the course of the campaign.

And their hard work paid off.

As the night wore on, gloom transformed into jubilation.

Peter Bush, the 2nd highest-ranked supporter, decided to celebrate the victory by updating his public bio with three simple words:

That sums it up well.

With the resounding success of the Vote Leave coalition, we are now pursuing other opportunities to help good causes around the world engage and energize their grassroots supporters.

We invite you to visit our and get in touch with us:

Thomas Peters

Written by

CEO of uCampaign and RumbleUp. We cultivate online and offline communities and give them mobile tools to act: and