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Gaining real estate in the inbox when campaigning in the 2016 election
How can political candidates use email marketing to successfully reach voters? Columnist Scott Heimes has some tips for political senders.
Email is one of the best ways for candidates to raise funds throughout the 2016 election cycle. However, inboxes are more crowded than ever, and email providers are making it even harder for relevant emails to rise above the clutter.
Additionally, most political campaigners don’t use email correctly.
As a political sender, it’s crucial to have successful email campaigns to help support your candidate of choice and create meaningful relationships with voters. Below are some words of advice for candidates using email for their presidential campaigns.
Building trustworthy relationships
In 2016, political senders depend more on their recipients than typical marketing or retail senders. While sales do increase for retail marketers via email engagement, they don’t have as short a window of time where they need full commitment and involvement from the recipient in order to stay relevant.
To gain the recipient’s trust, provide general knowledge and genuine thought leadership in your email versus just asking for donations. This creates an open dialogue with the recipient about the election or issues they may be concerned with — which is likely to foster better engagement.
Content marketing is a no-brainer in political email sending. While most politicians seem to not have time for that, if they tried this approach, they might find that they would see crazy spikes in donations.
As you send political email campaigns, take note of who continues to support and trust you. Every email campaign has supporters who want to receive, open and interact with your email. These are the people you should be segmenting to engage with more often as you gain their trust.
Segmenting lists is often ignored by political senders, but it’s still just as important as with retail. Political senders need to focus on the quality of their email list, rather than the quantity, by segmenting based on engagement level.
Following spam best practices
We’ve debunked the myth, and it is true that political campaign mail is exempt from CAN-SPAM requirements, but that does not mean political senders are exempt from best practices regarding spam. Just because political emails are exempt from legal standards doesn’t mean that your message will resonate with voters and open up a dialogue with them.
While your email might make it to the inbox, that doesn’t guarantee the recipient will read it. Political senders need to practice obtaining recipients’ permission to send them mail, even though it is not technically required. This also helps create a trustworthy relationship that is critical to these campaigns.
In the long run, following these best practices will help candidates gain more exposure. ISPs (Internet Service Providers) care about what mail is delivered to their customers, and lawfully following CAN-SPAM requirements is widely considered a best practice in any email industry.
Candidates who provide value through their email by sharing information on politics, issues related to that particular sender and their community are likely to receive greater support from recipients.
Segment your lists into three buckets: Definitely engaged, not at all engaged and undecided. For example, if the data shows that the recipient is fully engaged, send them content that asks them to keep supporting/donating, and remind them why continuing to raise money is important.
However, if there is any indication that a recipient is “undecided,” try to send them content on how your campaign stacks up against competitors.
Understand what your supporters want to see from you by measuring clicks and opens to target your greatest supporters. Increase the number of supporters in a meaningful way by testing each step to ensure you’re sending relevant and interesting information and content.
If you send irrelevant mail, you risk alienating your biggest supporters.
The greatest challenge facing political senders this far into the campaign is gaining and maintaining the trust and attention of current and prospective supporters. By creating trust, providing value and following best practices, candidates will better be able to reach voters in an effective and meaningful way.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.