Email Showdown: Trump vs. Clinton
Brandon Schmidt | Jul 29, 2016
Now that we are entering the hectic few months of the 2016 Presidential Election, we thought it would be good to evaluate the email marketing strategies of both candidates.
No politics here — only a fair evaluation of both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton based on their campaigns’ emails.
We’ll look at the sign-up process, welcome messages, and one follow-up email.
The Sign-Up Process
Visiting to Trump’s website, you can see the email signup banner just barely peeking above the fold.
The benefits of signing up is clear: I’ll get up-to-date news about Trump’s campaign in my inbox. What’s also clear: Trump is anti-Oxford Comma.
After entering in my email address, I’m taken to a donation portal.
The information is dated, since it is one week after the Republican Convention — and nearly two weeks since Mike Pence was announced as VP. I’m not surprised to see them ask for a contribution, as the homepage had two separate CTAs asking for me to donate either $5 or $250.
Here the range is even more drastic: the campaign would like me to donate anything in between $10 and $2700 — the maximum donation allotted by FEC rules.
The Welcome Email
Within seconds of signing up for the emails, I received a note in my inbox from Team Trump, thanking me for standing with Trump.
The email is simple and straight to the point: Trump wants me to contribute to the campaign. The message is muddy, however; Why am I being asked to contribute to the campaign again?
It’s been a couple days. Nothing yet.
New subscribers are expecting to hear from you, so it’s best to communicate several times within the first 2 weeks to keep them engaged.
When subscribers are opening and interacting with your emails, that’s when you begin to learn what they like. Once you know more about your subscribers, you can begin segmenting your list in order to send messages tailored to their interests.
The Sign-Up Process
First off, it’s clear that Clinton’s campaign is doing some significant A/B testing. Several of our team members have visited her website, and each has had a different sign-up experience.
When I visited the site, I was met with a splash page asking me to sign up to “Join the Official Campaign” — a more engaging phrase than “Join Our Newsletter.” No one wants to join a newsletter. Though it’s unclear what joining entails.
Once I signed up, I found out what my next task was: contribute to the campaign. Of course!
The next day, on a different computer, I visited Hillary’s site again. I did not see a splash page; instead, I had to scroll below the fold to “Join the Official Campaign.”
After submitting a new email address, I received a simple confirmation message. No shakedown for money this time.
The Welcome Email
Hillary’s welcome email, buried in the Promos section (I use Google’s Inbox), was very similar to Trump’s welcome, only with a tighter story.
My new mission: Support Hillary and other Democrats by contributing to the Victory Fund. In fact, that’s who sent me the email – Hillary Victory Fund. No wonder it was marked as a Promotion.
Unlike Trump, Hillary is only asking for $1 from me, at least for today.
As we said, Clinton’s campaign must be doing some testing. Here’s the email we got a day later on a different account.
On the plus side, the email is now sent by Hillary for America. Also, there are several more action steps in this email, with links to donate, volunteer, or share. On the negative side, the email is more against Trump than it is for Hillary, and it still was tagged as a promotional email.
Right before we hit publish on this post, I received another email from Team Hill, which proves they have an experienced email marketing team. This email is designed to self-segment the campaign’s list, so they can send tailored messages to each subscriber. By filling out the supporter profile, I would receive the emails that best match my interests.
Winner: Hillary Clinton
“Sent from my personal, secret email server.”
While Trump’s email marketing is on brand (“Make America Great Again”), the outdated info on the sign-up form and the unclear first email show room for improvement and optimization. Simply put, the email marketing plain fails at being The Best, with All the Best Words.
“I know words. I have the best words.”
Hillary’s email team — despite their past failures — is doing solid A/B testing on her email marketing. And they are creating specific CTAs to get her supporters doing more than just contribute to the campaign’s coffers.
Aside: How Google’s Inbox Treats Each Candidate
One interesting thing to note is how Google’s Inbox labeled each campaign’s initial email. Clinton’s email was marked with a Promo, where it fits with other marketing emails. Meanwhile, Team Trump’s email avoided the Promo tag, as if it were sent by a person.
According to Google, Trump is Making Inbox Great Again.
Here’s one area Team Hillary could improve: her email’s Mailed-By and Signed-By domains don’t match. By updating their Amazon SES DKIM settings, they could make sure these match, which could help in getting her emails out of the Promotions tab.