Its outcome may please or displease, but I suspect we’re all united in relief that this bizarre and uniquely toxic Presidential race has finally ended. Looking from our last update on October 23rd, both candidates mailed heavily right up through Election Day. But neither campaign has (yet) sent anything to their respective email audiences regarding the election’s outcome. As of this writing, Clinton had not yet even spoken publicly about it.
Strong close-out performance by both campaigns
For much of the campaign, Trump’s email program was underdeveloped, and at times spam-plagued. Yet, we consistently saw relatively strong read rates. Over the campaign’s final two weeks, continuing to use his four proprietary email domains and two “borrowed” domains, Trump mailed 956 email campaigns (only 13% fewer than Hillary’s for that period), and drove even stronger read rates than we had observed in the thirty days before that. These emails were either fundraisers or local event announcements.
Of particular interest was a series of emails sent on November 7th, all with the subject line “National Voter Assistance Hotline.” Message content included a phone number for voters to call if they encountered “any problems casting a ballot of if you witness any disruptions at a polling location.” Some versions of this message also included another number for the voter to call to volunteer as a poll observer. These messages produced read rates ranging from 18-33%.
Clinton continued to mail actively throughout the campaign’s final phase. Her inbox performance — always strong — improved to 90%, and her read rates improved to 19% from just under 15% in our previous report. Two themes dominated Clinton’s late-stage emails: (1) Emails noting the narrowing polling numbers and requesting further donations to allay the risk; and (2) Very concerted effort to get-out-the vote on election day itself.
Example of a best-performer: A message sent on November 6th, to 2.3 million people, with the subject line, “Nate Silver’s electoral vote update”. This message produced a read rate of 23.05%. Content listed key states thought to be at risk (all but one of which were in fact lost), focused on fundraising, and included this statement: “The race is razor-thin.” Prophetic words.
The table below provides activity and performance detail for each candidate’s activity in the October 24 – November 9th time period.
It’s fair to say that a well-executed email program to a well-developed email audience can strongly support and enhance a political campaign for communication and fundraising purposes. But the Trump campaign has proven that other channels, including cleverly leveraged social and earned media, can also be huge contributors to gaining political traction.