Winning the Election Email Battleground

According to NPR, this will be the most expensive and digital-focused election in history and as much as 90% of online contributions will be raised through email. With all that money, the campaigns are shifting their digital strategies to better leverage email for finding new supporters and donors. So, how does a political email program make sure it gets its fair share of donations? Follow these 6 DO's and DON'Ts to stand out:

DO. Send more email.
Keep up with the Joneses by sending out a higher volume of email than an advocacy nonprofit would send. BUT – make those emails count. Using a campaign's email program as a rapid response tool to share breaking news is an excellent practice, and has yielded fantastic action rates

DON’T. Ignore List Churn.
Don’t forget to acknowledge the inevitable: churn. M+R’s 2015 Benchmarks Report shows that on average, organizations across the board see an email churn rate of about 18%. So it’s critical that campaigns replenish their lists now, so they have plenty of time to cultivate new donors by the time elections roll around.

DO. Integrate across channels.  
For too long, direct mail teams and digital teams have been at odds. To this we say: it’s time to tear down these walls! There are few things better than receiving a personalized letter in the mail after donating – especially when the voice and tone in that letter is the same as the email that made someone decide to donate.

DON’T. Skip out on a welcome series.
Scrappy campaigns are always working on quick turnarounds. But investing in a quick, evergreen welcome series flow for new supporters is so worth it for long-term engagement. We’d recommend sending out a welcome email and at least one soft ask before rolling new supporters into a campaign’s normal email messaging. Tips for creating a great welcome series here.

DO. Send that quirky candidate-written email.  
Political digital fundraisers everywhere might hate us for this one, but let candidates send out that wonky, folksy email every once in awhile. You know what we’re talking about – it’s that email a candidate writes themselves talking about a local event that got them fired up, or a 1,500-word essay on the budget. Sure, these emails might not raise money – but in a world where more and more email is being sent, the surefire way to stand out in the inbox (and ultimately win votes) is to be authentic.

DON’T. Send one email to the entire list.
Even the smallest local campaigns should be segmenting their email lists by now. At the bare minimum, it’s critical to segment by donor level. Extra credit? Segment by the issue area your supporters are actually passionate about. Not sure what those are? A quick survey could help give direction.

There you have it, folks! Six simple DO’s and DON’Ts to follow for your political email program. Stay tuned for more updates as 2016 unfolds. 

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