Email for President: Now for the Money, Honey

At Return Path, we’ve been analyzing data like open rates and read rates for the presidential candidates, but we’ve also been comparing the email strategies employed. Part of a candidate’s email strategy includes fundraising—running for president is expensive!

Clinton sends fundraising emails every few days. The requests we’ve received only ask for $1—and this could easily be dictated by the zip code we provided initially. Around primary time, reminder emails urging us to vote did not include links to donate money (aside from those in the footer that we’ll talk about later). Having only one call to action in each email is a smart move, as it keeps the focus narrow.

Fundraising emails also lacked a designed header or even the logo for Clinton’s campaign, and the emails are from Jennifer Palmieri, the Director of Communications, rather than Clinton.

A confusing part about Clinton’s emails? There are two red buttons to click, but only one call to action. Perhaps this is because we have not donated to the campaign? We assume this is why the second box appears in our emails but aren’t positive.


Sanders sent fundraising emails slightly less frequently than Clinton (at least in our zip code). Around primary time, reminder emails urging us to vote did not include links to donate money (aside from those in the footer that we’ll talk about later). This strategy was used by both Sanders and Clinton. Only one call to action was used per email.

Fundraising emails generally feature his logo, text, and one clear call to action—contribute. There are two hyperlinks, both the blue text and the red button. The text requests $2.70, slightly more than Clinton but still affordable for the general public. Again, this could be dictated by our zip code.

The emails are generally from Bernie Sanders himself, not a member of his staff.


Trump, in contrast to Clinton and Sanders, has never sent us a fundraising email. This could be for a variety of reasons—such as our zip code—but it seems to be part of his strategy. He has reportedly stated that he is self-funding his campaign, so perhaps donations go against that. Supporters are able to donate to Trump via his website, however.

What’s working and what’s not in these emails? We have a few thoughts:

  • Have clear, defined calls to action. Having only one main idea per email is a smart idea—the reader won’t be overwhelmed and it’s clear to see what the email is about.

  • Ask for what you want. There is a clear call to action—Clinton uses the “donate” and Sanders uses “contribute” in their respective emails. Trump, on his website, uses the term “make a donation” and then “contribute” after entering your credit card information.

  • Explain what you’re going to do. All candidates explain what they will use the money toward. For any call to action you use in an email, it’s wise to explain to the reader what your next step is – even if it’s brief.
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