2016 Email Strategy: April

It’s April 12th, and Hillary Clinton declared her candidacy for President of the United States. Now that there are three official candidates, it’s a good time to check out their email strategy.

What information are the campaigns collecting?

Eight months out of the first primaries, campaigns focus on bringing in large quantities of people to their list. All three of the contenders ask for email and ZIP code. The Cruz 2016 campaign sticks out for placing its email signup on a separate page, instead of the top of its home page. Once you click through to this page, two forms appear on the same page. You’ll see one long form and one short form that appear to sign up the user for the same list. The Cruz folks might want to simplify their signup to get more users.

What Call-to-Actions are the campaigns using?

“JOIN US” – Hillary Clinton appeals to the user joining a movement when they give their email addresses.

“Learn more →” – Rand Paul promises users more information about him when they give their email addresses.

“I’M IN” – Ted Cruz ironically uses an OFA 2012 re-election campaign slogan to gather email addresses.

What happens after the user gives their email address?

Cruz and Clinton seem to feel their prospects will know enough about them already to immediately donate. Both toss the user to special pages designed to collect donations. Paul’s campaign continues to take the approach that users are still gathering information at this point – you won’t see any donation requests here.

Spam protection

The Clinton campaign is running the tightest spam protection at this point. In order to pass through, you’ll have to enter an email with an @ symbol, a period, and three letters after the domain (example: hillary@clinton.com will pass through, but hillary@clinton.democrat will not).

Rand Paul takes up the middle ground of spam protection. You’ll need an @ symbol and a period to pass through.

The Cruz campaign only requires an @ symbol to pass through.

In your inbox after you sign up

It’s been 45 minutes since I signed up on these lists, and only the Clinton campaign sent out an onboarding message. It looks a little weird in Yahoo webmail:

Hillary 2016 Onboarding Message

It’s an okay start for onboarding (three separate actions seems to be a bit much), and it’s not double opt-in. Unfortunately, there’s no opt-out.

What does this tell us about the 2016 race?

Looking at the signup process, the Cruz campaign will have much smaller lists than the other two. At least they will have much richer data, including user geographic and social information.

The most interesting development so far is the difference between the Paul campaign and the Clinton/Cruz campaigns. Paul’s team is banking that anyone signing up for email updates isn’t ready to donate just yet.

Last, it’s apparent that none of these campaigns are concerned about deliverability issues. None of them confirmed that I’ve joined their lists, and only the Clinton campaign sent an automated email follow-up. The Cruz campaign is extremely vulnerable to spam problems. When email marketers combine:

  1. Barely any in-form spam protection
  2. Single opt-in messaging

They get a recipe for bots and blacklisting trouble on their lists.

It’s only been three weeks, but there is so much to learn from the campaigns. Only 575 days until the general election!