In today’s blog post, I provide four examples of how not to run your email marketing, based on U.S. presidential campaigns. I will also provide four tips for the campaigns on how to improve their efforts, which I think many marketers can learn from as well. I tried to keep this blog post as politically neutral as possible, which turned out to be easier than I thought when I started since most of the efforts were pretty poor.
The 72-day study of presidential campaign email marketing
I enjoy David Meerman Scott’s use of U.S. presidential campaigns as marketing case studies in his blog posts. I agree with him that the lessons learned can be applied by all organizations. Inspired by this and with my focus on email marketing at MarketingSherpa, I signed up on March 7 to receive emails from each U.S. presidential candidate: President Barack Obama, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. (Please note Newt Gingrich did not provide an opportunity to register for email alerts.)
I consider the need for candidates to win over my vote for president of the United States to be a complex sale, and I correlate it with the long sales cycles of B2B organizations. After watching my inbox fill up over 72 days, here is what I discovered from my unscientific study of the candidates’ email campaigns as related to B2B email marketing best practices. Unfortunately, the experiment turned into mostly what not to do.
I have been signed up for Barack Obama and John McCain’s email messages for well over a year. And my fellow Americans (sorry, I couldn’t resist, ‘Mac’ fans), I was let down by what I did NOT see on Wednesday or Thursday.
Neither candidate had sent out an email to their subscriber list since the election results were in thanking them for their support. Obama’s Internet strategy has been pretty brilliant, so this glaring blind spot in ‘customer care’ was nearly shocking from his camp.
I first recognized this yesterday, a day after Election Tuesday. At that time, I was willing to cut campaign managers David Axelrod and Rick Davis some slack. A Tuesday night or Wednesday morning email would have been best. But they and their teams had to be unbelievably tired and distracted. The last thing they were probably thinking about was another email send.
But I thought: They really should be sending a ‘Thank You’ message on Thursday…any point after that would be kind of an embarrassment. I mean, both campaigns wisely used email to gather support. Whether it was donations, volunteering, soliciting help with phone banks, etc., each candidate was acquiring the resources of hard-working people via those messages.
By not sending their lists ‘Thank Yous’ in a timely fashion, they sent an altogether different kind of message: “We don’t need you anymore.”
That’s unfortunate for both the Democratic and Republican brands. While the bad marketing on both parties’ watch will not matter in 2012, why take the risk of turning off your best supporters? It makes zero sense.
Especially when you consider that both camps constantly sent emails this year. Several a week.
One more. That’s all they had left to do.