UK EU Referendum—Deliverability Means We Could Be Packing Our Bags Soon!

In 4 weeks, UK voters go to the polls to determine whether we remain in the European Union. So far, campaigning has been bitter and divisive, with MPs free to support their preferred option. Opinion polls have been level-pegging, although a raft of recent economic data in favour of remaining has started to swing opinion.

There are two official lobbying groups. Britain Stronger in Europe supports remaining in the EU, while Vote Leave wants us to pack our bags. Both groups are using email to promote their agendas, so it’s a great opportunity to use our Email Intelligence to review how they are doing.

List Size
Britain Stronger in Europe has been more successful in building its email base its current audience is 2.8 times greater than for Vote Leave.

The performance of the overlap segment is interesting. Read rates from subscribers who are members of both email programs are two times those who aren’t, suggesting high levels of political engagement. Of these “dual members” Read Rates lean slightly in favour of Britain Stronger in Europe (63 percent vs 56 percent).

List Profile
But size isn’t everything! Vote Leave has been more successful in getting “Primary” addresses from its subscribers.

Vote Leave

Britain Stronger in Europe

A possible reason is that voting intentions are clearly defined by age. 18-34 year-olds are two times more likely to vote for staying while those over 55 are two times more likely to vote for leaving (the latter is also much more likely to exercise its right to vote!). Although recent research by Adestra showed that 77 percent of Millennials/Boomers are email active, they are more likely to have a Hotmail or Gmail address, explaining the difference in list profiles. These are highly engaged accounts, meaning subscribers regularly demonstrate inbox activity like reading, deleting, and moving messages. As these graphics show, practically all Read activity is obtained from Primary addresses.

Britain Stronger in Europe is facing serious deliverability problems. While Vote Leave is achieving 95 percent Inbox Placement Rates (IPR), one in five Britain Stronger in Europe emails are being filtered to the spam folder.


Poor deliverability doesn’t just impact effective messaging. Britain Stronger in Europe is short of funds (despite Lord Sainsbury’s largesse!), and has been urgently emailing supporters with “We’re being outspent” messages—with 20 percent of emails not being seen by recipients, funding will be impacted.

Read Rates
The combined impact of more responsive subscribers and better deliverability means Vote Leave is also achieving substantially better average Read Rates (35 percent vs 24 percent):


There are several reasons for this, and we will consider engagement drivers in part two of this series. However, Britain Stronger in Europe has some recognition issues we’ll look at right now.

Britain Stronger in Europe takes two approaches to its use of the Friendly From—some emails take a campaign identity (“The Stronger In Campaign”) but most are going for the personal approach (“Will Straw, Stronger In”, “Lisa Clarke, Stronger In”). This approach is not resonating because subscribers do not recognise these individuals:


Read rates are higher when the campaign identity is used, and virtually no spam complaints are being generated. Where the personal approach is used, mailbox provider filtering is three times higher!

Personalisation is also playing a key role. Britain stronger in Europe has forename data for around ¾ of its subscribers, and emails are personalised if available:


Good personalisation is an email best practice, and where applied is driving much higher levels of engagement. The problem for Britain Stronger in Europe is the negative metrics from their non-personalised emails are impacting their overall program performance. Their campaign would actually be better off not sending these emails because of the damage they are doing.

So what does this all mean? While Britain Stronger in Europe has greater scale, Vote Leave is generating more engagement. In terms of effectiveness, the programs are cancelling each other in terms of effectiveness. It’s basically a dead heat right now, just like the opinion polls. Keep your eyes open for the next instalment in this series, when we will look at which program is doing the best job in content and messaging.

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