The election year is upon us at last. With major platforms like Twitter and Google adjusting their political advertising policies, presidential hopefuls are pursuing alternative channels to make themselves accessible to voters. As a widely adopted practice across industries, email is a great way to connect with voters, drive grassroots fundraising efforts, and provide updates on your campaign progress. According to Mailchimp, open rates for political emails measure in at 22.94%, slightly higher than the industry average.  

We surveyed* the Fluent audience to gauge their plans for political participation and overall attitudes toward email marketing efforts. 20% of US adults surveyed say email is their preferred channel for receiving political ads and messaging, with 11% interested in subscribing to a candidate’s campaign newsletter. With half of respondents planning to vote in the 2020 election, and 15% planning to donate to a political party, candidate or cause, email can serve as a valuable avenue to unlock voter potential.

Expected Political Participation

Below we outline the framework for creating a successful email marketing strategy for your campaign:

1. Build a strong email list of opted-in supporters

To avoid spam filters and ensure greater deliverability, make sure all subscribers have opted in to receive your emails. Use third-party email verification tools to keep your list clean and always include a link to unsubscribe in the footer of your messages. Beyond optimizing your website for email sign-ups, consider working with an external partner to drive new subscribers at scale.

For example, as a leading performance marketing company, Fluent creates immersive media experiences to engage with nearly one million Americans daily, gathering information on voter sentiment and behavior. We then use these self-declared insights to build precise audiences, helping our political partners acquire net-new advocates and supporters at scale. Click here to learn more about how Fluent can help you to grow your email list.

2. Craft a creative (but not blatantly misleading) subject line 

During the 2012 Presidential race, Barack Obama used the simplistic subject line, “Hey…” to capture voter attention, forever transforming the way we think about email as a tool for political communication. While getting crafty with your subject line can help to increase open rates, avoid using deceptive subject lines like “Re:” or “Fwd:” that suggest ongoing communication with the sender. Instead, opt for a subject line that uses concise language (HubSpot recommends 50 characters or less), demonstrates a sense of urgency, and starts with an action-oriented verb.

3. Use a familiar sender name

Build a “rapport” with your supporters by using a recognizable sender name. For example, the Sanders campaign alternates between “Bernie Sanders,” “BernieSanders.com,” “Bernie 2020,” and “Bernie Sanders for President” to create a sense of familiarity in supporters’ inboxes. The ‘no-reply’ sender name should be avoided at all costs – it’s impersonal and will prevent people from adding you to their email address book.

Issues that Matter Most to Americans

4. Segment your audience based on demo and interest data

Personalization is key to making supporters feel seen and heard by your campaign. Make sure to segment your audience and send targeting messaging based on key data points such as where your supporters live or past voter history. Monitor the types of content they have engaged with on your website and create differentiated email sign-up forms that capture their interest in social and policy issues (i.e. “Check this box to learn more about our plan to address gun violence”). From here, activate drip campaigns with tailored content based on supporters’ responses. 

5. Include relevant information on topics voters care about

While most of your campaign emails should include some call-to-action (i.e. register to volunteer, sign a petition, donate, etc.) it’s important not to flood your supporters’ inboxes with incessant pleas for donations. Make sure to diversify your content beyond the typical fundraising email, giving readers a better sense of who you are and what you stand for as a candidate. For example, according to our survey, over half of respondents sign up for a campaign newsletter to learn more about the candidate’s values and platform, while 48% are looking for updates on events and appearances. 

Attitudes Toward Email Marketing

6. Optimize your email for mobile

According to Litmus, 42% of emails worldwide were opened on mobile devices in March 2019. To ensure that your message renders properly across contexts, use a responsive design that adjusts based on the device where your supporters are accessing your email. With a mobile-friendly approach in mind, keep CTAs front and center and avoid including long paragraphs and large image files.

Once you launch your campaign, run A/B tests to identify the messaging that resonates best with your audience. Be sure to track key performance indicators such as opens, click-throughs, and unsubscribe rates, analyzing findings to help inform campaign optimizations. When it comes to email, clear, concise copy paired with a simplistic design is key to winning over voters and driving engagement.

For more information on how Fluent can help you get the most out of your political email campaigns, contact us here.


*Survey Methodology: Data was collected on January 7. 2020 via Fluent’s portfolio of owned and operated media properties. Qualified respondents were US adults, age 18 or older; we obtained 1,944 survey responses. Results are specific to the Fluent audience and not reflective of the general US population.