Can a Bad Email Program Lose an Election?

Two months ago the New Democratic Party of Canada (NDP) was at the top of the polls with a strong lead over the incumbent Conservatives and the struggling Liberals. So what changed? Well, the debates seem to have helped as Trudeau surprised a lot of people with his strong performance, his ideas, and his passion.

But what about advertising? It seems the Conservatives, with arguably the largest war chest at their disposal, have outdone and out spent the other two parties with more Twitter activity, more followers, and much more television advertising. All this spending hasn’t apparently gotten the Conservatives very far in the polls, but imagine where they would be without it!

What’s interesting, though, is the battle between the Liberals and the NDP—both of which are trying desperately to appeal to Canadians in every way possible and convince them that they are the party that will “Stop Harper.”

So what effect has advertising had on the Liberal party’s success? Don’t forget that this is the party that was all but snuffed out after the last federal election, and has mounted a major comeback despite the odds (and the constant attack ads) to rise to first place. How have they managed to beat out the NDP that just a few short months ago surged to 40% support in the polls and had federal power within reach for the first time in its history?

And why is the NDP sitting back and letting the Liberals steal their supporters (along with their funding and their votes)? Why in the final days before this crucial election when victory has never been closer, yet slipping through their fingers, aren’t they emptying the coffers and throwing every bit of cash they have at this to reach Canadians? Have they given up? Don’t they believe in advertising? Or are they perhaps broke?

Did they fail (as my colleague suggested several weeks ago) to reach their email subscriber/fundraising base? Did they spend their money sending email campaigns to junk boxes when they could have returned my numerous calls and emails to partner with Return Path and actually reach the inbox?

I can’t tell you how much of each party’s fundraising comes from email marketing. But I can tell you that some of the party’s campaigns below reached the inbox and generated much needed funding, and others, well… take a look:


Sent October 14, 12:20pm

  • Subject Line: Don’t let it go unanswered.
  • 34.3% Junked*
  • 5% Read*
  • 7% Deleted Without Reading*


Sent October 13, 6:03pm

  • Subject Line: Not too late
  • 3.1% Junked*
  • 34% Read*
  • 6% Deleted Without Reading*


Sent October 13, 8:48pm

  • Subject Line: Just noticed
  • 4.8% Junked*
  • 24% Read*
  • 10% Deleted Without Reading*

* Figures are approximations based on Return Path’s proprietary panel data

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