Hillary vs. Bernie: Applying Email Marketing Measurement to Track a Political Race’s Shifting Momentum
Bernie Sanders was winning. Heading into the first democratic presidential debate, Sanders' email messages were reaching more users than Hillary Clinton's and his program was performing significantly better. In the week before the event, nearly 95 percent of his email reached the inbox, almost 19 percent was read, and less than 13 percent was ignored (deleted without being read).
The Clinton campaign clearly lagged. Less than 16 percent of its email messages were being read and 10 percent were going straight to spam. On the positive side less than 12 percent of the campaign's email was being ignored, but the program needed a boost to catch up to Sanders' engagement, and the televised debate provided a timely opportunity to reach a national audience and energize subscribers.
Clinton emailed her subscribers that night, "Turn on Your TV," and 20 percent read the message. The next day 19 percent read the message, "She won." Over the following week the Clinton campaign's email program maintained its lift with statistically significant improvements in read rate (17 percent) and inbox placement rate (91 percent).
More importantly, the number of messages within distinct campaigns rose by nearly 25 percent after Clinton's debate performance, suggesting a surge in new signups to help close the gap between her and Sanders' programs.
But Sanders' email program generated a lift of its own after the debate. Despite a more modest single-digit increase in campaign sending volume, Sanders appeared to end the week with at least 20 percent more email subscribers than Clinton. Moreover his messages posted statistically significant improvements in inbox placement rate (better than 95 percent) and read rate (22 percent), and subscribers were less likely to ignore his messages than Clinton's — a switch from pre-debate trends.
A year away from Election Day, Bernie Sanders' email subscriber engagement suggests that his campaign is still reaching and connecting with voters more effectively than Hillary Clinton's.