Political marketing: Comparing the first emails from the candidates

Some of the Presidential candidates start off a bit behind the pack because they didn’t ask for a first name when collecting my email address. Only Ron Paul asked for first, last, zip and email in his entry-level email form.

The end result: They cant personalize that all important first contact with me when they email.

Anyone who has studied online marketing, especially list building, knows that asking for the first name is a low-objection item. Adding the zip code to the list isn’t going to stretch that objection meter too far, yet it’s critical to allowing the candidate’s systems to personalize AND localize their emails.

So let’s compare the candidates’ first email in the order they appeared:

Barack Obama :

First email came the same day. It was not personalized and not localized. Email was addressed to “Friend” and was written as if it came from Obama’s campaign manager. Email asked me to recruit 5 friends, and to help make phone calls.

The 2nd email arrived a day later. It was written to come from Obama (it was signed “Barack”), but was also addressed to “Friend” even though they collected my first name. It was a GOTV email asking me to make phone calls.

The 3rd email arrived about 7 hours after the 2nd one. It was written to come from Michelle Obama (signed “Michelle”) but STILL addressed to “friend”.

ALL links in Obama emails have tracking codes in them so they can see what is of interest to me. Not a single raw URL in the bunch. Whether this information is used individually or pushes me into some aggregate group remains to be seen.

All emails are HTML and include banner images and the like.

John McCain :

The first email came early the day after I signed up. It was not personalized and not localized. Email was addressed to “Dear McCain Supporter”. Email asked me to make a donation and to create my own McCain Space (MySpace simply has to love this).

The 2nd email referenced the endorsement from the Wall Street Journal, with an article excerpt and a link to the WSJ story.

There were no tracking codes in the first email’s URLs. The WSJ email did contain tracking codes on the URLs and each link used a unique code.

All emails were HTML, and included banner images.

Ron Paul :

The first email was a “Message from Carol”, (Paul’s wife, according to how the email reads, as they haven’t gone to the trouble to introduce her).

It arrived about 18 hours after signing up for the list. The first email was made to look like text-only but was HTML and contained invisible tracking images to prove that I’ve opened it. While knowing their open rates and open delays is smart, tracking supporter behavior isn’t exactly congruent with the non-intrusive Libertarian way 🙂 The email was a general thank you for reaching their fundraising goal.

The 2nd email appeared 30 minutes later, was a duplicate of the first.

The 3rd email arrived 5 hours later, was HTML and included an image banner. It was localized (talked of Montana issues, asked me to make calls re: the Montana caucus, gave me a script for use on the phone, and it was the first of all the candidates to be addressed to me by name. Politics is Personal, you know.

The email included a phone and cell # for the Montana State Coordinator, who happens to live here in the Flathead Valley.

The 3rd email did not include any tracking codes or specialized URLs. I suspect this is because they were all Montana-specific links.

A 4th email arrived late Monday evening. Personalized. Localized and GOTV all the way.

Hillary Clinton : The first email arrived about 18 hours after I signed up. It was not personalized (addressed to “Dear Friend”) and not localized. It was HTML and included tracking codes on the links. The email asked that I check out the Voices Across America national town hall on Hallmark Channel.

It was rather out of context for a first email, noting that “You’ve done so much for me over the past year. I know this journey would not have been possible without you by my side, and I cannot begin to tell you how grateful I am. Thank you so much for all you do.”, when in fact, I haven’t lifted a finger for her or any other candidate as yet.
Mitt Romney : No emails received as yet.

One interesting thing I noticed is that some candidates have a donation button in every email. Some use the word “donate”. Some use the word “contribute”. I hope they’re testing the words on those buttons to see which works best.