Team Obama Unveils Its Email Campaign Strategy

Last week, Team Obama released some of the data behind its email marketing efforts during this past election season.

As an email marketing guy, these are the kind of articles that get my juices flowing. The post also included this cool (info)graphic.

I plucked out a few quotes from the Business Week article that really jumped out at me:

“Most of the $690 million Obama raised online came from fundraising emails.”

The fact that this was published in a mainstream media outlet – Business Week – is encouraging. I’m hopeful that these numbers can put a nail in the coffin of the “email is dead” commentary (pun intended). As I’ve said before, and anyone who touches email marketing in any way will agree – email is far from dead; it’s thriving.

“We did extensive A-B testing not just on the subject lines and the amount of money we would ask people for,” says Amelia Showalter, director of digital analytics, “but on the messages themselves and even the formatting.”

This quote makes a really nice case for the value of testing – something I cover in Module 5 of Email Marketing Made Simple. What I really like about Team Obama’s testing is that it’s not limited to the subject line. They tested copy, imagery, buttons vs. links, and so on. See the last quote for more on what they tested

“It quickly became clear that a casual tone was usually most effective.”

Sometimes, simple is better. As Ann Handley & C.C. Chapman discuss in Content Rules, it’s important to speak human.

“We were so bad at predicting what would win that it only reinforced the need to constantly keep testing,” says Showalter. “Every time something really ugly won, it would shock me: giant-size fonts for links, plain-text links vs. pretty ‘Donate’ buttons. Eventually we got to thinking, ‘How could we make things even less attractive?’ That’s how we arrived at the ugly yellow highlighting on the sections we wanted to draw people’s eye to.”

So you are saying that “ugly” can win? That beauty is in the eye of the subscriber? In The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing (as well as in Module 4 of Email Marketing Made Simple), we talk extensively about “ugly” emails outperforming “pretty” ones.

This Blog Post in 12 Words

Email is not dead. Test. Be human. Break the Rules (through testing).

What stood out to you most in this data that Team Obama shared? 

DJ Waldow
Waldow Social

P.S. Have you heard the news? Nick Westergaard and I have started a weekly podcast called The Work Talk Show, where we interview crazy-smart folks about how work gets done. Give the latest episode a listen!

Speaking of breaking “the rules” of email marketing, did you know that my buddy Jason Falls and I just wrote a book called The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing: Grow Your List, Break the Rules, and Win?

Yup. It’s true.

In the book, we talk about growing your email list as well as breaking “the rules” of email marketing. Break the rules and grab your copy today, right now. Here –> AVAILABLE NOW!

Reminder: There is no such thing as “best practices” when it comes to email marketing. Best practices are those that are best for your audience.

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@ginidietrich did you turn off your scheduled tweets? heads-up if you didn't...

SusanMKim 1 Like

I love "beauty is in the eye of the subscriber".  If a certain color performs much better, who cares if you think it's ugly?  It's not as if you have to paint your living room with it.