Are we there yet? It was just over a year ago Ted Cruz became the first official candidate for the next president of the United States of America. Since then, some 20 other candidates have come and, mostly, gone. With more than half the primaries having taken place, Cruz is still in the race, but second to Donald Trump for the Republican ticket. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton leads Bernie Sanders with strong superdelegate support.
Given the lengthy election cycle, many voters might not be willing to see who wins, they’re just ready for the whole thing to be over. Those seeking an escape might want to check out Japan, whose law mandates elections take no more than 12 days. The rest of us will endure another six months of speeches, ads, and, yes, emails. But we like emails. Here now, is a look back at how frontrunners Trump and Clinton approached the medium since they began running.
Clinton a Model for Best Practices
On April 12, 2015, Hillary Clinton announced her intent to run for president. Her campaign posted a video, launched a website and took to social to ask followers if they were with her. Email was initially a bit muted. Hillary’s welcome series was simple and straightforward, but lacked a certain charisma. Emails welcomed and thanked subscribers, then encouraged them to invite friends, donate and volunteer. Standard practice in the early stages of the campaign, though the Clinton camp was just getting started.
As the campaign progressed, so too did its email strategy, moving quickly into sophisticated testing marked by high levels of segmentation and personalization. Clinton’s team tested everything from subject line copy (capitalize this, put an exclamation point there) to “from” address and, of course, body copy. Since the welcome campaign, emails have loosened up a bit with personal “from” addresses, subject lines like “Yep. Beyonce.” and some graphical body copy.
Trump Takes a Different Approach
Email is one of the surest ways of connecting with supports and measuring engagement. As with so many things in this election, Donald Trump has taken an entirely different approach. Unburdened by the need to raise money from supporters, the self-funded candidate has primarily used email to thank supporters, notify subscribers of upcoming events and proclaim endorsements from high profile individuals.
Trump’s celebrity and proclivity for real-time, rapid-fire updates via social media mean his use for email is limited. Since he announced his candidacy on June 16, 2015, he has sent an average of about five emails per month (compared with other candidates’ almost daily sends). This says less about the overall usefulness of the medium and more about the extremely rare circumstances surrounding the Trump candidacy.
Email Remains the Global Standard
“If Hillary wins, I’m moving to Canada!”
“If Trump wins, I’m moving to Canada!”
Threats like these have been a mainstay of presidential politics since at least the 2000 election. How many Americans actually emigrate on account of their candidate losing or a particular candidate winning isn’t clear, but the 2016 election is taking the idea to a whole new level. A small island off the coast of Canada is encouraging disillusioned American voters to give living in a Canada a try. And while some might seek to run from what America might become in the next four years, chances are they’ll still read about it in an email.