I was thinking this weekend about some comments I made late last week to an iMedia Connection story. Brent Rosengren wrote an article about the presidential candidates' emails, claiming that many failed for various reasons. While I don't disagree with many of his arguments, there are also some obvious holes. Here's an excerpt of my comments:
One call to action in an email is the most effective way to ellicite response. The more offers you have, the more confused readers become...
The Obama campaign was wise to streamline their message. (Besides, they send out other messages that allow other types of engagement. A donation ask after big wins builds momentum and makes readers feel like part of a movement.)
Feel free to read Why the Presidential Candidates Flunked the Email Test and let me know what you think. My full comments can be found at the bottom of page four.
Rosengren is correct in his assertion that you shouldn't send recipients irrelevant content. But it's also important the remember that each of these emails is part of a larger campaign. That campaign is going to be offering different information or asking for various assistance over time.
I believe it's wiser to look beyond the one-off emails and scope out the lifecycle of the supporter throughout the campaign. (It goes without saying that this extends beyond politics. Any time you are asking someone to do something, it is a campaign of sorts.)
You wouldn't walk up to someone and ask for money. Likewise, you want to spend a couple of emails developing a relationship - giving access or information are great ideas (and often over-looked). Create some trust, build their belief in your work, and then see if they can contribute financially. That is the recipe for success.