One Campaign. Just Email. $500 Million Raised

8 replies
This is for the election of Obama campaign.

Here's how they pulled it off...

Email Marketing: How A/B testing raised $500 million for Obama for America | MarketingExperiments Blog: Research-driven optimization, testing, and marketing ideas

#$500 #campaign #email #million #raised
  • Profile picture of the author Mellisa Haynes
    Interesting read.
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  • Profile picture of the author SFS23224
    I worked as a db admin during the 2012 election. Extremely organized and thorough database. These guys have access to your entire social media network, friends (their party affiliation) and that do daily polls on issues. I used to volunteer to talk to people and got to hear a lot of political concerns from the voter's point of view. I would never document people's opinion nor change them. Listening is a politician's best tool. Fantastic read.
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  • Profile picture of the author Scott McKinstry
    Great share, Ewen, thanks.

    Loved the part in the actual presentation at minute 29:50 when the email director (tech guy I think) holds his nose at the unexpected payoff from using "ugly" formatting ... especially the dreadful, tacky yellow highlighting of text. (And despite his distaste for the tactic, he's quick to capitalize on what works.)

    Here's what he says:

    "What pained us mostly ... we tested yellow highlighting.

    "Yellow highlighting killed us ... because it worked and it worked pretty well.

    "It's pretty easy to set up ... but it's ugly, and it's horrible -- you can't highlight an email! Nobody's highlighting an email! How authentic is that? That's not authentic. That's not real."
    But lo and behold, it worked .... at least for awhile, and then the audience began to ignore it.

    Then there was his surprise a minute earlier (29:25) when donations went up as the result of including more text in an email that contained a convenient "donate now" button:

    "In fact, I think what ended up being our control is, uh, a whole bunch of legal text on top if it: 'because you've saved your payment information, you can make a quick donation' -- it's insane. I don't know why adding more text that was legalese, seemed scary -- oh my god, if you press this button you're gonna give us money -- but it worked."
    In hindsight, the effectiveness of the extra text makes perfect sense --> classic "reason why" copy (along with the magic word "because") that explains why this "one-click"-like donation can work; Thus making it actually less scary to donate, 'cause you understand what's going on.

    And probably some of the folks on the team understood that, which is why they tried out that version in the first place. Nice to have the numbers confirm it.

    ... at least for that specific application (in that precise way, place, and time). Always tough to know how much you can generalize specific results.
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  • Profile picture of the author RickDuris
    FYI: From Mike Allen...

    JOE McGINNISS, who died Monday at age 71, in "The Selling of the President 1968," his behind-the-scenes classic on the Nixon campaign's TV strategy, published in 1969: "Politics, in a sense, has always been a con game. The American voter, insisting upon his belief in a higher order, clings to his religion, which promises another, better life; and defends passionately the illusion that the men [!] he chooses to lead him are of finer nature than he. It has been traditional that the successful politician honor this illusion. To succeed today, he must embellish it. Particularly if he wants to be President. 'Potential presidents are measured against an ideal that's a combination of leading man, God, father, hero, pope, king, with maybe just a touch of the avenging Furies thrown in,' an adviser to Richard Nixon wrote in a memorandum late in 1967. ...

    "Advertising, in many ways, is a con game, too. Human beings do not need new automobiles every third year ... It is not surprising then, that politicians and advertising men have discovered one another. And, once they recognized that the citizen did not so much vote for a candidate as make a psychological purchase of him, not surprising that they began to work together."

    --TODD S. PURDUM, "Joe McGinniss and the dark arts of modern politics": "In 1968, when Roger Ailes was ... a whip-smart 20-something trying to make Richard Nixon look good in staged television town halls, he told a young journalist named Joe McGinniss, 'This is the beginning of a whole new concept. This is it. This is the way they'll be elected forevermore. The next guys up will have to be performers.' ... [J]ust as the 'observer effect' in physics changes the very phenomenon being measured, McGinniss's rich and rollicking insider account helped change the way politicians and the press dealt with each other. 'The War Room,' 'Game Change' and even POLITICO's 'Playbook' are McGinniss's direct descendants.

    "Before McGinniss, political reportage ranged from the kind of mindless daily box score, horse-race coverage that still endures, to Theodore H. White's stately, myth-making, novelistic narratives. After McGinniss, informed voters and readers could never again see politics in anything approaching the old heroic light ... A television-era candidate, McGinniss wrote, 'is measured not against his predecessors ... but against [the late talk-show host] Mike Douglas. How well does he handle himself? Does he mumble, does he twitch, does he make me laugh? Do I feel warm inside?'"

    - Rick Duris
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  • Profile picture of the author multipliedmike
    Great share! Here's one of Obama's most effective emails that netted him $2.54 million in funding in one day: $2.54 Million Fundraising Email from Obama | Swipe File Resource for Marketers & Copywriters

    They shared the results of 12 different subject lines & "I Will Be Outspent" topped them all dramatically.
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  • Profile picture of the author RickDuris
    Meet Obama's digital strategist. Insightful 3 min video.

    POLITICO's Open Mike -

    - Rick Duris

    PS: Check out his desk at the end. Gotta get me one of those.
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  • Profile picture of the author max5ty
    Actually thought we were done with the "Go Obama Bright Ideas That Worked To Win The Election Thing"...but obviously we're not.

    Yes, there may be some good info need to take a lot of things into consideration.

    1. The emails were sent to supporters.

    2. There were many other political factors that swayed supporters during the campaign. If an event happened that was helpful to their side, almost any BS they emailed would have gotten gaga support.

    It's easy to look at a campaign and try to pick out genius ideas that's another thing to realize the conditions that caused the ideas to work.

    A political campaign (at least in the U.S.) has so many twists that go beyond marketing, that it's almost idiotic to say one headline was better than another.


    Romney said this...

    CNN blasts it out as breaking news.

    Obama campaign shoots an email out with the headline, "Oops" and gets tons of feedback.

    My opinion...and mine only...

    once a campaign is successful, it's wacky to go back and take things out of context without fully realizing the events and real time battles that evoked the responses.

    Study the example, but also study the contributing factors.
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