Obama vs. Romney : See Who Wins The Subject Line Debate


We recently released our Political Infographic, in which we analyzed Obama’s and Romney’s overall email programs using the data from Inbox Insight, our competitive intelligence product. The data showed that Obama was outperforming Romney in most of the engagement metrics we track.

In light of the recent debates, I  thought it would be interesting to dive deeper into the specific emails Obama and Romney sent over the weekend going into the last, and arguably most important, debate. I took a look at the subject lines on Saturday , October 20th for both of the candidates. Below are the word clouds containing all of the words used by Romney and Obama. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently. 


Romney’s Email Campaigns: Words used in Subject Lines for October 20th, 2012


Obama’s Email Campaigns: Words used in Subject Lines for October 20th, 2012

Several interesting strategies jump out here. Romney’s prominent words seem very clear and predictable – Romney, Paul, Ryan, Join, and Team are used many times. And, he is the only one to also mention the upcoming debate in his subject line. There is little variety in his subject lines. Obama, on the other hand, uses many more descriptive and unique words. In fact, he employs a favorite strategy of many email marketers in retail: using “free shipping” in his subject lines. At first glance, it is not clear if we are looking at a presidential campaign or shopping for t-shirts with free shipping. His focus seems to be to continue raising money and spreading his campaign through the merchandise he sells in his store. 

Obama is also the only candidate to use special characters in his subject lines. On October 20th, he makes use of the following characters: ❤,◄, ★, ➨.Perhaps Romney should try this strategy because the emails using special characters all had an above average level of engagement.

Overall, October 20th was a good day on the email engagement front for both candidates.  They both outperformed their monthly engagement levels of “below average”. Obama had “above average” engagement driven by a read rate that was one third higher than his read rate for the last month and Romney had “average” engagement driven by a delete unread rate that was one third lower than his delete unread rate for the last month.

Who do you think made the best use of subject lines? Continue the debate in the comments below.

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