Love him or loathe him, email marketers could learn a few things from the apparent front-runner's campaign strategy and tactics. Put your own feeling aside and go with me on this:
1. He understands the political climate. Trump has discerned the mood of a clearly defined voting niche and built his messages around it. He has been able to tap into a deep reservoir of public feeling, with messaging that resonates.
The email lesson: No matter what you sell, you must understand the context your customers live in: the economy, your core customer group, your suppliers, even your competition.
You can't just recycle what your sales or merchandising teams hand you. Step back, and connect the dots to figure out what's going on with your target market. That will drive everything you do.
2. He focuses on his target market. Trump has honed in on his segment of the party faithful and directs all of his messaging toward it, apparently not caring whether his outrageous statements resonate with moderate voters.
The email lesson: Learn everything you can about your target markets and the messaging that drives them to engage. Then, market to the people who are most passionate about your brand and products.
3. He sends a simple, clear message. Trump's "Make America Great Again" slogan didn't appeal to marketing, branding and advertising pros, who ranked it 19th out of 22 campaign taglines in a survey by "Tagline Guru" Eric Swartz. Shows what they know.
Trump's slogan speaks to his audience of disaffected voters. It's his value proposition in four simple words.
The email lesson: Ensure all aspects of your email reinforce your brand value and your core value proposition. Branding, tagline, copy, images, offers -- all must work together so your customers recognize your value.
4. Buzz can beat marketing budget. Jeb Bush spent $130 million on his campaign but never finished higher than fifth place. Trump's outrageous personality generates constant coverage from TV, online news and social media.
The email lesson: Big budgets don't guarantee email success. Focus on improving results -- adding triggered messaging, upgrading message templates, etc. -- and tap influencers to amplify your messages.
5. Buzz drives voter turnout. Before the Iowa caucuses, the pundits argued whether Trump's big buzz would translate into votes and delegates. He stumbled the first time, but, as of this writing, has won every contest since then.
The email lesson: Opens are the marketing equivalent of attending a campaign rally, and clicks are the votes. Your subject lines might drive lots of opens, but if readers don't click or convert, it means you failed to tap into their interests, motivations and desires.
6. He tries everything, even if it breaks campaign rules. Trump's campaign apparently doesn't use data scientists and polling experts to gauge voter sentiment. Instead, he throws stuff at the public opinion wall to see what sticks. If it works, he runs with it. If not, he moves on.
The email lesson: Don't be afraid to venture beyond your traditional approaches. Generally accepted best practices are a place to start, but test to see what else works for your campaigns, your core values and your customers.
7. His stump speeches incorporate real-time events. Trump's speeches often appear to change with the moment, to bring what people in the audience are doing or saying into his comments or to tangle with protestors.
The email lesson: Involve your customers and subscribers in your messages by incorporating real-time behavior and customer data. This gives them a stake in the message; they aren't passive recipients.
Until next time, take it up a notch!