Editor's Notes: Political Excess, in Marketing

Thorin McGee, Editor-in-Chief/Content Director, Target Marketing

The presidential election, which you’ll notice we have a small story about (“The Direct Marketing Election,”), has inundated Americans with marketing through every channel permissible for months. I’m guessing many people who allowed the candidates to contact them by email, phone or social media have lived to regret it, because the appeals have been constant.

I think this reveals more about direct marketing than politics. We’ve all seen the impact real-time digital channels have had on marketing.

The sheer volume of touchpoints available through all of those channels means two things. First, you can contact customers and prospects just about any time and anywhere you want to try them. And second, you probably don’t have the bandwidth to do it effectively.

When I say effectively, I mean contact that meaningfully encourages a prospect or customer to buy, or at least stay positively inclined toward your brand. It seems like the more contact you have with your targets, the more effort you need to put into each contact to make it appealing and engaging. It can be easier to create a marketing message that discourages your target from buying than one that does your marketing good.

I think we see that all the time, and the chance your marketing impact shifts from positive to negative increases with each channel you use and touch you make. The danger is amplified when they just heard from you a day ago—or an hour ago, if you’re a political fundraiser!

Seriously, the cover story goes into some of the ways the election campaigns didn’t follow email best practices, and I think frequency is one area they went wrong. During work, during dinner, on weekends … If a campaign had sent me an email with a donate button that said “Go away, you’re bothering me,” I would have hit that 100 times.

The numbers will tell the story. My impression was the campaigns were desperate and flailing. But maybe the keen minds behind them found data that said blasting out multiple emails an hour, all screaming about different subjects, is the most effective tack for political fundraisers. If so, the next elections could be a real nuisance.

Thorin McGee is editor-in-chief and content director of Target Marketing and oversees editorial direction and product development for the magazine, website and other channels.
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