(For identification purposes only, I’m the Executive Director at Netroots Nation)
Last week yet another poorly crafted Jerry Brown email went out to his email universe. That’s not news, I’ve been cringing at their emails since they first started sending them. Most cringe worthy so far? Jerry Brown’s ring tone.
The subject line was decent, “You wouldn’t believe…” works for me. But the rest of the email violated about every best practice that’s been written for emails. Here’s some simple ones from Blue State Digital for starters.
There’s this weird screen capture of a YouTube video that actually goes to YouTube instead of their donate page (you just lost anyone that intended to donate with that link). Instead of highlighting specific text 2-3 times in the email they opted to use these weird huge contribute images. The email is rambling and without focus. The type is small, nothing is bolded to catch your attention. There’s all sorts of other links to distract you like facebook, etc.
And at the time it was originally sent the lowest contribution you could make without entering something in the “other” box was $100 even though they asked for $10, $25, whatever you can give in the email. And the highest donation was $51,800–now where’s my credit card that’s got that much spare room on it?
You can see a partial shot of it here.
Epic FAIL, the conversion rates have to be terrible.
More on the flip about how Jerry Brown’s email “best practices” are infecting the California Democratic Party and Alberto Torrico’s campaign for Attorney General…
But now this is spreading like a virus in some bad end of the world thriller movie. And it’s doing serious violence to online organizing knowledge.
The California Democratic Party decided to forward Brown’s email this past Thursday night to everyone on their list. They didn’t change a thing, they just forwarded this crappy email verbatim with a little header on top from Burton. You can see a partial screen shot of that here.
And then on the same day Torrico sends something very similar, but actually worse due to lack of focus, to his email list. See that partial screen shot here. I mean hey I’m a Kamala supporter so maybe that’s ok 🙂
Brown has obviously been in politics a long time, and the combination of his team running with these techniques and the CDP supporting them is providing some kind of weird signal to others to adopt them. If Brown’s doing it this must be what it feels like at the top of the game.
So in the hope Brown’s people, CDP people, and folks with other campaigns that read Calitics see this, please stop looking to these emails as examples.
* If you want to follow some good models look at what groups like Courage Campaign, MoveOn and OFA are sending out just to name a few. You’ll notice that fundraising emails are short, carefully constructed and focused, make specific asks, and if there is a video it’s on the donation page. Messaging, unfortunately, is a much longer conversation. But technique is important.
* There’s all kinds of help out there ranging from national consultancies like Blue State Digital (you know, the folks that worked for Obama) to folks like Trilogy Interactive to close to free help like New Organizing Institute provides to scores of articles and blog posts written on the subject. I love Wired for Change tools as much as the next guy but just having their toolset doesn’t cut it, you need to know how to use it.
* If you’re running against an insanely well funded candidate like Meg Whitman, as Brown is, then you need to take online organizing seriously and do it right. It’s an incredibly low cost multiplier to every other aspect of your campaign: fundraising, field, messaging, media, volunteers. All you need to do is look at the story of how a 1 term Senator named Barack Hussein Obama beat one of the most well established and financed candidates in recent political history. It wasn’t by sending emails like this.
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