Spam Won't Get You Elected: Presidential Hopefuls Flunk Email Marketing 101, Study Shows

How can politicians run the country when they can’t even get an email into an inbox? That question arises following the release today of a report by Twilio.

The company subscribed to the email of 26 Democratic Presidential candidates and President Trump in July, using a newly created email address.

Sadly, 21% of the messages it was sent ended up in the spam folder. And fewer than 4% landed in the test account’s primary tab.

Moreover, almost 75% of the emails landed in the promotions folder. Gmail’s algorithms determined that this is exactly where they belonged, Twilio says.  

Finally, almost half of the campaigns either lacked DMARC (Domain Messaging Authentication Reporting and Conformance) record or failed a DMARC check.

This makes it easier for bad actors to spoof campaigns, and lack of authentication can also prevent email from being delivered to the inbox.   

The report does not point a finger at any particular campaigns. But it shows a general level of sloppiness. 



“The majority of emails from presidential candidates do not adhere to the best practices widely known by effective email marketers across a great swath of industries and verticals,” states Len Shneyder, vice president of Industry Relations for Twilio SendGrid.

They would be better off “if they better understood the nuances of email at scale. The result was a waste of precious resources and time and a lost opportunity to influence and motivate prospective voters.” 

Why don’t the campaigns get it?

“Campaigns present a different set of dynamics given how potentially brief they operate as an organization and how rapidly they have to scale and ramp,” Shneyder explains.

This can be argued either way. Democracy may not be hurt by campaign emails ending up in spam boxes — indeed, it might even be helped.

Twilio advises campaigns to adhere to these rules: 

  • Limit the use of “friendly from” addressee or aliases. 
  • Don’t flood inboxes at all times. Offer recipients choices about how often they want to be contacted.
  • Cut down on screaming subject lines in capital letters. 
  • Employ list hygiene mechanisms to decrease the number of bounces and typo traps.


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