Don’t worry, this articleisn’t just gratuitously going to jump on the political bandwagon. However, with that said, hands up if you’re sick to the back teeth of Brexit.
Wow. That’s a lot of hands. Mine’s up too, as you’ll see.
Whenever we hit periods of political turmoil like this (and boy does this seem to be rolling on forever), it’s tempting as a business owner or marketer to inject some of your love or hate for the topic in question into your promotional efforts.
But is that a good idea? Do people really want to hear about your political leanings? Will your brand be tarnished forever if it decides to take a particular side. What will happen if you poke fun at the recent sandwich-eating antics of a big-name politician?
The stats appear to think you’ll be ok on the political bandwagon
If you’re into your statistics, you’ll love this one.
According to a brand study carried out last year, 64% of consumers across the planet will buy something based on a brand’s political or social position.
Whichever way you swingometer that (sorry), it’s a huge proportion of the people who might buy your products or sign-up for your services.
Let’s put things into perspective. If you dig into the numbers of the report you’ll find that around 57% of the UK’s consumer market is made up of people whose purchasing decisions can be influenced by a company’s political standing.
So, is it really a good idea to jump on the political bandwagon?
“But the stats, Mark – look at the stats!” you cry. And, while I agree that it’s hard to look beyond figures that seem to suggest you should ‘get a bit political’ as a brand occasionally, they are just statistics.
Get too excited about this massive new marketing opportunity and you might inadvertently cause a huge brand image problem.
Let’s say you’re particularly fed up with the government’s latest round of amendments to the Brexit deal. This fires you up so much that you decide to create a hero image for your next email marketing campaign.
Next to an extremely unflattering image of our Prime Minister, the text reads: “Unlike Mrs May, we don’t mess about. Our prices are LOW and we’ll never change our minds”.
Now, let’s consider how many staunch conservatives there are in the UK . There’s a lot. It’s millions of people, in fact. And, that means your politically-influenced email could alienate your brand from a huge audience. Worse, it could fire them up enough to pour scorn on your company on social media and paint you out to be something you’re clearly not.
Thankfully, there’s a few tricks you can employ. Here’s how to ensure any email you send with a hint of political leaning doesn’t alienate your brand. Now will it result in a massive number of unsubscribes.
Here’s our five tips for including politics in your email marketing without turning people off:
1. Include both sides of the political bandwagon
Marketing shouldn’t be one-sided; it should be all-inclusive and avoid alienating people (even if you don’t agree with their political beliefs).
The trick here is to make it clear that you appreciate the views of both sides. In our example above, for instance, you could make note of the fact that Mrs May has a tough job on her hands, but you’ve made the job of your customers easy by retaining such low prices.
Kinda works better, doesn’t it? And, although you have jumped on the political bandwagon, your position isn’t damaging your brand.
2. Think about going with the consensus
There’s nothing wrong with sitting on the fence in marketing (you certainly won’t lose many fans that way), but if you want to take a political stance on something in order to draw in more engagement, focus on consensus.
For example, if you go for Brexit or climate change, you’re approaching some very contentious subjects. Focus instead on reducing social issues, for instance, and you’ll find far more support – even if people have differing views to yours on the solution.
3. Think about your audience
You really need to know your audience very well indeed if you’re going to get political with your email marketing. This is why it pays to wait a bit until you hit upon a contentious topic.
The more email campaigns you send and the more data you’ll gather about your audience, and the more you’ll know how they’re likely to react to anything you send which is politically-influenced.
Why not conduct a survey to find out about their views on a political topic you’d like to focus on for your next campaign? For example, if you find that the majority of your email subscribers are in favour of a no-deal Brexit, it might be safe to tread water in that subject.
4. If it feels wrong, don’t press ‘send’
Trust your instinct. If you’ve just created a header graphic and copy for your next email campaign and it has sat in the draft folder for the last two days, there might be a reason for your hesitation in pressing ‘send’. It might be a pretty unstable political bandwagon you have jumped on, and your instinct is telling you to jump off.
If something doesn’t feel quite right about your politically-influenced email, don’t press ‘send’. Run it by your colleagues, friends and family and get their opinion. If they agree it’s wrong – your instinct was right. If they think you’re onto something… still tread with caution!
5. Think about how you’ll react if it goes bad on the political bandwagon
No matter how careful you are with your politically-influenced email campaigns, you’ll likely offend someone. If it’s just a smattering of people, you’ll have little to worry about, but what if it does blow up in your face and cause thousands to take to social media?
Before you send the campaign, create a disaster recovery plan; think about how you’ll react to any negative publicity that follows your campaign. This is good practice for all email marketing, to be honest, so why not start getting into the habit of it with your next email – political or not?
Now it’s my turn to sit on the fence.
There really is no right or wrong answer when it comes to whether or not you should include politics in your email marketing. The key thing is to assess your audience’s potential reaction, only send when you’re 100% happy with the content and always have a disaster recovery plan.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with being bold and outspoken in marketing – just avoid using your company as a soapbox!