Tuesday, 4 May 2010

The email election - the fight for votes is in your inbox, not your Facebook

There were lots of predictions that the 2010 UK general election would see social media, viral videos and the like dominate as the internet became a key battleground - however, the digital battleground seems to be in my email inbox more than anywhere else!

Conservative and Labour parties are using Google ads (no ads on any other search engine), they are trying to use video (notably the Conservatives pushing to the WebCameron channel) and there are Facebook Fan Pages (LibDems and Conservatives leading with about 80,000 fans each) - but the email war has been running constantly.

Email is the digital equivalent of having a candidate flyer pushed through your letterbox, but it (arguably) takes less effort, has a far wider footprint and doesn't have the printing / distribution costs associated with traditional doordropping. The database therefore becomes the key electoral tool. Emails vary in topic, from campaign news to personal appeals from key spokespeople to 'personal' contacts from the leaders.

The LibDems send round a weekly update called LD2010, reaching out to supporters and pushing them to act:

LD2010 - Issue #11 'You can make the difference' (click for larger image)

George Osbourne emulates this with his weekly campaign update:

George Osbourne campaign update email (click for larger image)

Nick Clegg has emailed me:

Nick Clegg email to me (click for larger image)

and I have also had a 'Personal Contract' sent to me by David Cameron:

David Cameron 'personal contract' email (click for larger image)

and the most recent email is from George Osbourne again, urging supporters to make a final push:

George Osbourne email 'don't pause for breath until the polling stations are shut'
(click for larger image)

As well as campaign updates and 'vote for us' appeals, these emails contain links to videos, donation pages, Facebook campaigns etc. There is no point running social / digital initiatives if they go unpromoted. The Conservatives have had the budget to run extensive paid search activity, but like the LibDems have also embraced regular email contact to continually push messages and online initiatives (all directly to the voter without running the risk of having to push things via journalists and news channels.)

When everyone is 'talking social', it's easy to forget the power of email to highlight messages and connect with voters / consumers in the personal space of their inbox. Yes the TV debates were crucial in this election, but email has played a more prominent role than Facebook etc in keeping the campaigns going. History will no doubt overlook the campaign contribution of email, but it has been one of the key weapons in the parties' digital armouries.

* NB I signed up for the Labour email list too. I assume they are using it too, but I have not received anything......

Related posts

Google 2010 UK election insights hub
UK election Search ads mashup
'Making Your Mind Up' - bloggers and MPs make Bucks Fizz election viral
#LeadersDebate takes 6 of top 10 trending topics on Twitter
Martin Tod uses QR code and Twitter address on election poster

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rebecca caroe said...

Nick, in addition to the emails you show, I also got a personalised on from Paddy Ashdown asking me to donate £10....
I am amused that the Labour party failed to send you anything. Poor them.

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Laura McGregor said...

Great post Nick! Was just sitting down to write a Blog about the power of Email Marketing and brain storming ideas when it arrived in my Inbox! It was one of those "damn I wish I had written that", moments.

Have followed you on Twitter and Re-tweeted the post. Thanks!

Nick Burcher said...

@Rebecca I also got the Paddy Ashdown email!

@Laura - I've been thinking about it for a while as my inbox fills up ever more desperate pleas! Glad you found it useful and thanks for the RT!