Email continues to be a crucial marketing channel for many of Canada’s political parties. Through email, the parties and their members are able to share their policies and ideas directly with many Canadians, but more importantly, email is a means to keep their campaigns rolling by securing much needed funds.
This is no surprise as email continues to be the one channel that, dollar for dollar, provides the highest return on investment (ROI) of any marketing channel. The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) confirmed this in their 2012 study that stated that email not only provides the highest ROI of any marketing channel, they also reported that email has the lowest cost per acquisition (CPA).
Over the years, Return Path bloggers have used our email optimization data to examine how various political parties are performing from an email perspective. This has included an analysis of email programs leading up to the 2012 US election, the upcoming 2016 US election, and the 2015 UK election.
With Canada’s federal election set for October 19, let’s take a look at how the Canadian political parties are performing with email.
The sign-up process
On August 14, I created a brand new Outlook.com webmail account and signed up for the email newsletters of all of the major federal Canadian political parties that I could, and rechecked the sign up process a month later. Here is what I found out:
Liberal Party of Canada: The sign-up process was very simple. I went to the bottom of the web page to add in my email address and postal code. It was not
just a newsletter sign-up, but a commitment to “Trudeau’s plan for real change.” It seemed a little heavy for a newsletter sign-up but may serve to have subscribers self-qualify before adding themselves to the mailing list.
Going back on September 11, I saw that the newsletter sign-up has been moved to a more prominent position, higher up on their web page. This is a good step to building up a larger subscriber list.
Conservative Party of Canada: In both my initial check on August 14 and my second on September 11, I was unable to sign up for an email newsletter on their website. Maybe, if I donated some money, I could get put on their email subscriber list? This seems like a bold move for the Conservatives, shutting out people (voters) who may want to follow the party through an email newsletter, without making a donation.
New Democratic Party of Canada: In contrast to the Conservative Party web page, the NDP web page had a pop-up that encouraged you to sign up for their email newsletters before entering their website. A thank you pop-up appeared as soon as I entered my email information.
Returning on September 11, the NDP had modified their sign-up to encourage commitment to their cause.
Green Party of Canada: The Green Party of Canada had a newsletter sign-up that was clearly positioned on their web page. Immediately after sign-up, a thank you screen refresh asked for a donation to the Green Party. The Green Party had stayed with this format on their website, when I checked again on September 11.
Bloc Quebecois: I was unable to sign up for email on August 14, but on September 11, before you could enter their website you had to go through a newsletter sign-up screen. They are definitely trying to build a larger subscriber list.
It is clear that with the election date approaching, some parties are being more aggressive than others in attracting subscribers for their newsletter/fundraising lists for anyone who visits their websites. Making the sign-up process visible and easy is an important step to encouraging subscribers to sign up for their email. Gaining more subscribers to their email can translate into more contributions for the party.
After the sign-up process, the emails began to roll in. Here is what I have received and where the emails were placed in my Outlook.com email:
This is good news for the Liberal Party and the Green Party, but must be shocking to the NDP. Sadly, the NDP probably have no idea that their email is getting filtered to junk—but then again, neither would the other political parties unless they are tracking their inbox placement rate and not just their delivered rates.
If we look into the Return Path data we can get a grander view for all of the political party emails over a longer time frame and from a much larger data set—not just what occurred in my personal account.
This data supports the experience that I was having with the NDP email, as there is also significant filtering of the NDP emails to the junk folder in our panel data. For the NDP, this spam issue is also having a negative effect on read rates as emails in the junk folder are seldom read. The other three parties are not in the clear either, as a percentage of their emails are also being filtered to junk. With an election on the line, there is a huge price to pay if marketing efforts are being wasted with emails sent to the spam folder.
Beyond inbox placement, the read rate and deleted without reading rate offer insight into subscribers engagement with each party. The Conservative Party has the highest read rate, which could be indicative of the fact that their subscribers have likely donated to the party in order to be placed on their subscriber list and are committed to the Conservative party. On the other hand, the deleted without reading rate is especially high for the Liberal Party’s emails when compared to the other political parties. The Liberal Party will need to look at their subscriber engagement and make some hygiene moves with their list, to avoid potential email deliverability issues. They may also want to check which emails are not being opened to determine what content is causing disengagement.
In my next blog post, I will take a look at some of the factors that could be preventing the political party emails from reaching the inboxes of their subscribers.