Frustrated by low response in some areas, the U.S. Census Bureau has turned to a familiar marketing tactic: email.
Millions of emails were to be sent this week, with numbers increasing into September. The result will be that marketing brands will in theory be competing against the Census in the inbox.
The emails are going to 20 million households for which the Census Bureau has contact information. These will be in Census Blocks with a 50% response or less to mail and other efforts.
The email recipients will surely include homes that have already responded, a no-no in marketing. But citizens can opt out of receiving future messages, the Census Bureau says.
In any event, this method will reduce the need for in-person follow-up, the Bureau says.
It is not clear where the low-responding areas are located, but news reports on the effort have come from Western Maryland to Colorado.
The Census Bureau had tried email for its Household Pulse Survey, and was happy with the results.
The email messages will come from firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Census Bureau has also launched an ad series designed to build online response. It will also expand to expand the number of languages receiving some level of paid media support to 45.
In addition, it is considering text messaging.
The deadline for responding to the Census is October 31.