Jonathan Alter for Wired: Annoying Emails Work Better Than You Think: A Lesson From the Obama Campaign

June 5th, 2013


by Jonathan Alter
June 5, 2013

Some Tech staffers had dismissed email as old-fashioned and uncool, without understanding how indispensable it would be in saving the campaign.

The most important metric wasn’t the size of the Email List but how many were converted into donors and volunteers. Since the last campaign, Obama volunteers and supporters had received almost nothing on the president’s accomplishments — only tiresome email solicitations for money.

In 2011 those annoying fundraising emails became a big topic of discussion in Chicago. Teddy Goff and his Digital team thought the videos and fundraising appeals they sent out online had to be creative or they wouldn’t stand a chance. They thought it was lame to ask supporters to retweet links.

In 2012 they would learn otherwise. It turned out that predicting from your gut which messages or graphics might connect with voters was a fool’s errand. Intuition gave way to test results. In direct mail, tests are slow and expensive; online, they’re fast and nearly free.

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