Don’t Skip This Blog Post and Other Obnoxious Subject Lines: They Work!

With CHIEF being right here in the heart of DC, of course we’re always thinking about politics. While we are strictly a non-partisan shop, that doesn’t mean we can’t learn things from the “industry” of our city.

And as a former political staffer, this is a topic near and dear to my heart. Let’s go on a trip through the email marketing world, through the lens of politics, and see what we can learn.

There’s no question for anyone on a single political email address that candidates and political action committees send out more emails than any other list. As annoying as it might be for the recipients, it’s a true gift for the teams managing those email lists. Why?

One word: testing.

Political emails are optimized within an inch of their lives. When you’re sending out eight emails a day, you have the luxury of being able to test. And traditional marketers would do well to take a few lessons from them.

In other words: Test. Every. Single. Thing.

A few ideas:

Subject line: We all know this one, but get creative! Try a simple “hey” or even use emjois. (I know, but hey, if political emails include them, it’s probably for a good reason).

Sender: Who the email is from is just as (if not more) important than what it says.

Calls-to-action: Everything from language to link style (try a button!) to placement in the email can and should be tested.

Timing: Break your list up and send one in the morning and one at night. Try Saturday morning sends. Your audience might try to avoid you, so catch them when they might not expect it.

Segments: If you’re not segmenting, you’re missing out. You can test and tailor messaging to a hugely diverse list of segments, and get the exact right people to take the exact right action.

Style of email: The biggest trend I’ve noticed lately is ditching html-heavy emails in favor of more plain text emails. Make it look like something a real person would send. (At least that’s working for now.)

Length: While I’d always been an advocate for shorter emails, I was shocked when my clients would insist on longer form emails…that worked. And vice versa: sometimes, clients were shocked when very short emails would beat out longer, newsletter-style emails. Try out a really short (think 3 lines) vs. a traditional newsletter. You have nothing to lose from testing!

Testing is a great opportunity to challenges the norms, subvert assumptions and most importantly, learn what is important to your audience.

And a final word of advice: do yourself a favor and subscribe to the campaigns of your Congressmen and women, or even a political PAC or two. When you start noticing trends in their emails, you can be sure it’s an approach that is working.

[Originally posted on Chief]


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