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Lessons from the Presidential Campaign Email / Formats

Email is the primary connection most users have with the web. Millions of people only use the Internet to access email. The problem has been that many of the advocacy organizations have put too little thought or strategy behind message targeting, development and use of email as a mass communication medium.

Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox for February 17 is now online. Jakob is a guru of useability and does great research work. Basic findings:
* E-newsletters that are informative, convenient, and timely are often preferred over other media.
* Most email newsletters are not designed for scanability and should be since that is how they are read.

Green Media Toolshed actually purchased Jakob's study. (my opinion the price is not worth it for advocacy groups. It has lots of screen shots of the email letters Jakob studied. However, we are really happy with his newsletter and books).

Key lessons:
1. A good subject line with actual important content. (NOT NEWSLETTER #3 -GMT or IMPORTANT NEWS type subjects)
2. Keep it short
3. Write for scanning - Jakob has all the statistics to say folks don't read the newsletter they scan it. You should write so scanners "get" your core message. I Love this quote from the summary This implies the need for layouts that let users quickly grasp each issue’s content and zero in on specifics. It is kind of the general challenge for all advocacy.
4. Newsletters should be timely and informative about events, dates, deadlines.
5. Do it right or people will unsubscribe (worse they will stay subscribed because they are afraid of your unsubscribe process and come to resent you for spamming them)
6. You must convince folks that your regular email will be simple, useful, and easy to deal with.
7. Don't abuse your relationship. Be predictable and not too aggressive.

There have been a few folks really working in this space and special kudos go to Michael C. Gilbert for his work in the field. He has inspired me to take the email strategy question much more seriously. His site is worth reading and his blurbs on email are provocative and smart.

POLITICSUS has a great collection of campaign mass emails. These email messages seem long but they are a quick scan and tend to catch the readers attention pretty quickly. These messages go to more than 100,000 readers.

Take a close look at the format and style used in these emails and let us know what works for you.


OneNW is also a leader in the nonprofit use of email and worth digging around their content. search for "EMAIL" on their search bar for a bunch of great content.

February 17, 2004 in Current Affairs, GMT Tips and Tricks, Good Reading, Network Advocacy, Organizing | Permalink


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