Presidential Email Best Practices: Do You Know Better Than Obama and Romney?

Loren McDonald, vice president of industry relations at Silverpop, a digital marketing technology provider based in Atlanta, has been analyzing emails from the Barack Obama and Mitt Romney presidential campaigns. He finds that both employ marketing best practices, and both also sometimes step on their own marketing toes. Here is a quiz to see how well you know what political candidates—and commercial marketers—can do to excite supporters, or turn them off.

1. Political candidates should use the first names of people who receive their emails.
A. True
B. False

Answer: A. True. “People want to feel like they’re being treated as individuals, not just nameless addresses on a list,” McDonald says. As of July, Obama greeted his email recipients by their first name 98 percent of the time, while Romney used their first names just 8.5 percent of the time.

2. Candidates should use email to drive only a limited amount of behaviors.
A. True
B. False

Answer: A. True. “They should include strong calls to action, but [Obama and Romney] may be asking too much of their supporters,” McDonald says. Some of the requests the candidates have made in emails—other than to donate or vote—include requests to sign petitions, get freebies, take a survey, register with the campaign website, view a livestream video or sign a birthday card.

3. Candidates can use anyone remotely involved in the campaign in the “From” line in an email.
A. True
B. False

Answer: B. False. Candidates should use only well-known people, and should also be fairly consistent. “A voter who does not recognize those names could just as easily not open the emails or just delete them,” McDonald says. “They need to stick with recognized trusted brand names.”

As of July, Obama had used 15 different “From Names,” and Romney had used 17 different “From Names.”

Comments
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    At a site called White House Dossier, run by a WH correspondent, we often analyze the cheesy lotteries both candidates, but mainly the president, have held–come to this part for $3, that sort of thing. They pay air fare! We have followed up and the "winners" are shunted to some back table and ignored. Auctioning off the president is so tacky. We also think signing these "Barack" is ludicrous. And when they begin with "Look"–we almost lose consciousness. We hate being ordered to "look." But the worst are the ones from Michelle Obama–do you have the president’s back? He is supposed to have OUR back! http://whitehousedossier.com