Posts Tagged ‘email’

By now, it should be clear to most campaign organizers, media pundits and voters that politics and the Internet live in loving disharmony.  The Internet is both the most lethal medium to a campaign (gossip, candid cameras, endless gaffe replays) and the the most efficient marketing message machine. 

In this post I take a quick look at the email campaigns of the major candidates.  Actually, I’m only going to go so far as to compare From names, Subject lines, send times and quantity.  Anyone who’s ever done significant email campaigns knows those are the KEY elements to get right… if you blow those the message never gets to the inbox or the user never opens it.

For this informal study I only look at email from 2/1/2008 through 5/6/2008.  I’ve posted email inbox snapshops below for the three main candidates.

Who’s using email most effectively?

What are the strategies?

Does it work at all?

Are these sales pitches for votes or catalysts to involvement?

Emails Sent:

  • McCain: 39 or about 3.1 per week
  • Obama: 70 or about 5.8 per week
  • Clinton: 66 or about 5.5 per week

Number of Unique Senders:

  • McCain: 7
  • Obama: 11
  • Clinton:9

Subject Line Style:

  • McCain: Key marketing messages, Issues, Patriotism
  • Obama: Campaign results, calls to action
  • Clinton: Campaign results, emotional statements

Frequency and Dayparting:

  • McCain: 50% lunchtime/late morning, 45% late afternoon primetime, 5% other; 1 weekend email, all others weekday
  • Obama: 5% early morning, 15% lunchtime, 40% primetime, 40% latenight (very close to campaign results announcements)
  • Clinton: 30% lunchtime, 40% late night, 30% other; 80% weekday, 20% weekend


Hard to tell without some real data from the campaigns.  We do know anecdotally that the Obama campaign raises a tremendous amount of money through the internet and has over 1.5 million individual micro donors.  The Clinton campaign has not raised nearly as much overall nor over the internet.

Their respective websites follow the same traffic trends and do not show much correlation with the email campaigns that wouldn’t also be correlated to general interest in the campaigns at that time.


Obama has a much larger web audience – for a variety of reasons.  Whether that has any bearing on the outcome of the campaign, who knows.  and whether it’s a cause or a result or an intervening variable, we’re unlikely to know without a much better view of the data than you can get publicly.


Who do you think is using email the best and why?  What’s your experience?

Obama Campaign:

Obama Email Campaigns


Clinton Email Campaigns


Email Inbox of McCain Campaign Emails



NOTE: Michael Jung compiled these screenshots and went through the painful process of subscribing to everyone’s emails, even the candidates we don’t remember.  What he wanted me to remind everyone, “And don’t forget to tell everyone to go visit http://www.nowcali.com!”

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Somewhere along the way I lost capital letters and periods in my emails, IMs and other documents.

People started to notice.

Where did they go?

Blackberry, Office 2007, and other software took them from me! That’s right! Authoring software for mobile emails and office documents now does so much for me that it even caused me to stop hitting shift + letter when I start a sentence. Capitalization mistakes appear so frequently in my emails now because my primary email client is Thunderbird and it does not autocorrect.

At first, I thought it was a stylistic choice. Perhaps I picked up on Generation MySpace style or maybe the various companies I consult for conditioned me. I am the next ee cummings.


It took me some time to see it and isolate when and where I lost this behavior, but after going back through documents and emails, I lost it as soon as I got my blackberry 7130 and Office 2007 Beta 2 installation.

I’m not making this up. See Exhibit A, sample pre and post -blackberry and office 2007 emails. See Exhibit B for a primitive mistake frequency analysis.

Months and months and thousands of documents later my typing behavior is altered to the point where my capitalization and punctuation changed by style of communication. The chain of consequences is even more dramatic as people read my notes and docs differently, in a different mindset, with more or less urgency and so on.

Does it matter?

Yes. It does to me as I want to have more control over whether I’m saying what I mean to say. Punctuation, grammar, capitalization and other style guides make it slightly more possible for us to understand each other. As soon as those norms go out the door it’s communication anarchy with emails, phone calls and conversations filled with “huh? What does that mean?”

What am I going to do about it?
Pay attention.
Turn of the auto correct features.
Use my paper notebook more.
Slow down.


EXHIBIT A: Typical Emails Pre and Post Losing Style

Email from 1/21/2004 6:53 AM
Try resetting it to the details below and then test it by logging in as him. (be sure to log out though!)

I’ll call ya from the factory.


Email from 2/18/2008 8:18PM
well, well, well.

time to catch the prowler in a net… i’ll ping him and see what he’s into.


Exhibit B:
From 1/21/2004 – 2/18/2006: 1734 emails composed in sample set. 1.2 capitalization or punctuation errors per email.
From 2/19/2006 – 2/27/2008: 1567 emails composed in sample set. 2.9 capitalization or punctuation errors per email.

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