How Much Is Too Much? Election Provides Valuable Marketing Lessons

Even before I decided to donate to a candidate ahead of a historic election, I found myself receiving emails from both sides that I had never signed up for. The solicitation was intense. Once I did donate, the side I gave to became even more aggressive.

My single sign-up to one email sender quickly got shared across an entire ecosystem of fundraising for that side. On the days leading up to the election, I received multiple emails every day, all of them asking for more money. I don’t recall much more than a passing acknowledgment of the donation I had already made. There was just an attitude of “give us more.”

It seemed both sides were overly leveraging the country’s climate of divisiveness and fear to try to incite donations. Neither side seemed like they were trying to be above the fray.

These approaches were successful for the very reasons I would want to criticize them.  Both sides seemed to know that the decision to donate again was both emotional and rational. So they seemed to play to the emotions of people who were either fed up with the past four years or who felt they had been misunderstood for the past four (or more) years and believed the election might be stolen from them.



Here’s where marketers can really take note: In the final weeks of the election season, when fundraising was at a fever pitch, I have to imagine many people — like myself — just got tired of it and unsubscribed from a lot of emails. This exemplifies why testing frequency and cadence continues to be critically important. 

In the holiday season just past, people were bombarded with tons of messages. Marketers should pay close attention to what that did to response and unsubscribe rates — and should throttle their sends accordingly.

Furthermore, election season left behind clues about how to construct a campaign around an event. These days, big brands have the power to create their own events (think Amazon’s Prime Day), so they’re not restricted to the times of year when inboxes are most crowded and competition is highest. They have the power to create campaigns that have narrative through lines, and build toward something.

Here was one area where the political parties missed the mark. They just kept repeating their gloom-and-doom messaging, rather than thinking in terms of a true narrative that could help lead a prospect through the sales funnel. Brands can do that better -- and don’t need to seem as desperate as political campaigns.

It’s hard to compare many brands to political campaigns, as support for the latter is often driven so much more by emotion. Regardless, brands that build and provide great experiences -- from their emails and other channels all the way through to their products or services -- have the best chance to engender true passion and support from their customers.

1 comment about "How Much Is Too Much? Election Provides Valuable Marketing Lessons".
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  1. Len Stein from Visibility Public Relations, January 5, 2021 at 4:11 p.m.

    Amen!  I've unsubscribed to so many and still the emails come in torrents

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