Republican Presidential candidates are extensively using email marketing to help foster relationships and distribute information in a bid to win the party leadership, according to a study by Elite Email. In new-age politics, campaigning is no longer just focused on traditional media and lawn signs, says Robert Burko, President of Elite Email. Now, more so than ever, political campaigns are contested heavily in the digital landscape. The 2008 presidential election saw the emergence of email marketing and social media as a campaign tool. In 2012, these online avenues are becoming a core part of every campaign.
The four Republican candidates reviewed in the email marketing study all prominently displayed their email mailing list signup forms and buttons on their website:
Mitt Romney's website had an intro page (also called a splash page) that prompts visitors to Get updates from Mitt's campaign by supplying their email address and zip code. If you miss or skip the call-to-action on the splash page, Romney reminds you again on the header of every page of the site, where there is a big button to sign-up for Email Updates.
Rick Santorum's website has a call-to-action box located on the right column of his homepage titled Join The Fight, with a link to E-Mail Sign-Up. Santorum requests more information than Romney and asks people to enter their name, full mailing address and phone number, but only the email address is required.
Newt Gingrich's website has an intro page with a call-to-action to Sign The Petition (for domestic oil drilling). He asks for name, zip code and email address, with all fields being required. Gingrich has also embedded the email marketing signup form as part of the header on every page of his website. It seems as though signing the petition also enrolls the new subscriber on the general mailing list. This goes against email marketing best practices, because when using a reputable email marketing software, one of the objectives is to clearly inform people what they are signing up for. In this case, there is no way to infer that a person who signs the petition also wants to receive other emails.
Ron Paul's website has button at the top of every page labeled Receive Updates. When visitors click on this button, they are asked for their name, email address, phone number and zip code. Only email address and zip code are required.
The analysis by Elite Email specifically highlights the information that is requested when joining the candidates email mailing list because one of the benefits of an email marketing campaign is being able to specifically target the message to the correct set of individuals. By asking for zip code, the candidate is able to send emails related to activities, events, and voting dates in that person's specific location. If the candidate only has the email address, then he is limited to sending general broadcasts to everyone, and thus not leveraging the true power of an email marketing software. It is also noteworthy that only Santorum and Paul's website prompted the visitor for a phone number as well, so that the information could be used for email marketing and phone marketing initiatives.
The Elite Email study also looked at the thank you page, or the page that appears after a user signs up for a mailing list. Santorum and Gingrich's websites rank first in email marketing effectiveness, cleverly bringing the new subscriber to a donation page, and thus quickly capitalizing on this new subscriber relationship. Romney's website simply posts a thank you message, which is good etiquette, although not as beneficial towards achieving digital campaign goals. Paul's website comes in last, as it does not give any sort of sign-up confirmation.
In addition, the analysis looked at specific tactics used by the candidates immediately after joining the mailing list. One of the primary tactics in small business email marketing is to send an immediate welcome email to the new subscriber that contains useful information. Not one candidate sent this welcome email, which represents a missed opportunity to put vital information in the subscriber's inbox right away.
Based on email marketing best practices, candidates should be using a double opt-in process whereby the first email sent to new subscribers prompts them to click a confirmation email to confirm their intent to join the mailing list. This prevents someone from being incorrectly signed up for a mailing list. Only Ron Paul's website sent this confirmation email. The rest of the candidates activated the email mailing list subscription without any further confirmation at all. This opens up the candidates to unknowingly sending spam, which is something that could have been easily avoided. That is precisely why Internet service providers all strongly suggest or require the double opt-in or closed loop subscription process.
Elite Email is a leading North American email marketing service provider (ESP) that has been helping customers achieve greater email marketing results for almost 10 years. The Elite Email cloud-based (software-as-a-service) platform allows organizations of all sizes to build and grow their mailing list, create eye-catching emails, and track results with detailed reports and analytics. All services are backed by Elite Email's outstanding support and customer care. Elite Email has been featured on TV, radio and print media and is a member of the Email Experience Council, eMarketing Association, Better Business Bureau, Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Vaughan Chamber of Commerce and Toronto Board of Trade. Elite Email is the only Canadian company listed by the Utah and Michigan Child Protection Agency as a compliant sender. Elite Email recently won the Business of the Year award at the Toronto Board of Trade Business Excellence Awards.