You can never underestimate the prevalence of politics. Whether you are the sort of person who “does” politics or not, you cannot escape it. Look at Facebook, Twitter, your email inbox. Approximately how many times a day do you see a political post, or receive a political email? Opinion’s are rife, and behind the relative safety of a PC or mobile phone display, more and more people don’t mind sharing their opinions for all to see.
On one hand, it is encouraging to see how many people are involving themselves with important issues. On another hand, with the amount of spurious facts littering the internet these days, people sharing lightly researched articles and harvesting their knowledge from tenuous sources causes ambiguity and unrest. Politics in this manner has ceased to become the pass time of only the educated and well-informed, but has granted access to everyone with a phone. But don’t for a minute let the dryness of my tone, or the skepticism of my language choice fool you.
This is a good thing!
Finally, people are invested in change, or giving some serious and passionate thought to the ideologies open to them. Although some sections of the world wide web seem to view this as an excuse for some sort of aggressive brawl, the political parties themselves are learning to capitalise on the succinct directness of the internet. It is my firm belief that email marketing should play a part in that. In fact, as I have pointed out before, email marketing is forty times more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined.
Whether you represent a political party, or a social action movement group, this blog will look at 5 key areas to help you get the most from your email marketing campaigns.
The Content Manifesto
Interestingly I put content at the top, the first point, the one I want to draw your eye to. The reason is simple, if your content isn’t right, if it is not stirring, or persuasive, or passionate enough then it doesn’t matter about the rest, your email has failed. Political rhetoric is one of the industries where you can honestly say that the right content is absolutely vital.
Take this email from the Labour Party for example:
The Labour Party have been very clever with their content. They first personalise the subject “Lisa”, and then go on to allude to her “heartbreaking” story. Throughout the email, they provide you with a short video that looks at a family in crisis through the eyes of a child, they provide statistics to lend their argument credibility, and even give you a culprit to blame for the dilemma “Lisa” and her family are suffering through. This combination of content is key to ensuring the readers emotions are sparking in the right direction, the recipient is not given any other choice but to agree that this situation is “unacceptable”.
Howard Konopko makes the point that: “Knowing which issues resonate with individuals and communicating those issues more often can be the difference between an average donor and a very active supporter.” There is a lot of truth to this, and something that I find a lot of action based political groups get terribly wrong.
If I like an email and sign a petition ensuring better quality water for the wildlife in the seas surrounding Great Britain, it doesn’t automatically assert that I will be interested in donating money to organise a march in the US over the right to bear arms. This very common mistake can be avoided by better data capture, and segmentation.
If there is an election coming up, or some social action being decided, then it is imperative to know what interests your reader. Are they interested in immigration, transport, and the military? Are they interested in the NHS and Education? If you want to avoid having your emails marked as SPAM by potential voters, or activists, then you must supply the content they want to hear.
Delivering the Rhetoric
At risk of sounding like I’m teaching grandma to suck eggs, the importance of having clean lists and good data cannot be overstated. In 2016, Liz Froment articulately discussed this issue in her article: ‘3 Rookie Mistakes in Email Marketing by Political Campaigns‘. Despite winning the election eventually, this article points out the ways in which the email marketing was being damaged by basic mistakes such as not using a clean list. 7.9% of Trump’s emails were marked as SPAM by the senders. That doesn’t seem high until you compare it to Bernie Sanders (0.3% of emails marked as SPAM), and Hillary Clinton’s very fine 0%.
It is vitally important that your lists are clean, your audience has given you permission to email them, and that you are keeping safe the reputation of your IP address. No doubt your message is important, perhaps one seeking social change and reform. The last place this email needs to end up is in the SPAM folder of every email service provider.
This Email Needs You!
We have all seen this picture before haven’t we? The idea taken from the British World War One posters featuring Lord Kitchener recruiting for the British Army, it wasn’t long before the American Uncle Sam was doing the same thing.
It is a very poignant image.
Not only does the figure of Uncle Sam point directly at the person reading the poster, or flyer, but it is drawn in such a way, that no matter where you move, the eyes will always look like they are watching you. This was a powerful tool for the Americans in the Second World War and for recruiting youngsters for Vietnam. It is a very potent idea in politics now.
If you are subscribed to the lists of political groups such as Change, or 38 Degrees, you will receive, almost on a daily basis, stirring prose urging you to sign a petition, or take part in a march. Sometimes, there is no particular call to action, but every time they make sure to address you by name – sometimes even in the subject line. This is the modern day email equivalent of Lord Kitchener peering out of a public poster urging you to join in their fights. It’s clever. A recipient of an email such as this feel part of the plan, important to the cause, and included within their designs.
The Social Link
Like almost everything, politics have gone social. As Tom Murse points out, despite the older citizen actually being the one who makes it to the polling station, Twitter and Facebook have lit a fire under the younger generation, and this has had a profound impact on elections. However, I am doomed to repeat a point I made within another recent article. Social Media isn’t future proof in the way that email marketing is. At any point, the social media site can ask you to remove a post, or even remove it for you. With email marketing, you own the content, and it has been sent to the recipient. It cannot be taken away, and at no point can a company like Facebook or Twitter decide to charge you for the write to post that content. Not that they unethically choose to do this now, it is just something that they legally have the right to do.
Not only that, but Social Media is better for capturing what is happening at a given moment. Tweets are lost, posts scroll up, and unless you are tagged or engaged within a post, there is a high chance of you missing the points raised in an interesting debate. This is not so for an email. But this point isn’t about the right to claim superiority between email and social media. Both are useful tools, so they should be linked.
If you make sure your social media links are in the emails, then you drive people to your Twitter, your LinkedIn, and your Facebook. Not only might this draw people into the inevitable roaring debates that happen over social media on a daily basis, but it also helps you measure the engagement of your audience.
Like most things in the Twenty-first Century, politics has needed to digitise to ensure that it can reach the widest amount of followers that it possibly can. The important topics and factors are still discussed, but they are no longer confined to stuffy halls filled with dreary disinterested men. They are a prevalent force in our day to day reactions to social media. Furthermore, they have a broader reach.
The smart politician is taking advantage of this internet liberty, and email marketing is proving to be a killer tool helping to deliver rhetoric right to the phones of the voters.