Mariamz

The incessant optimization inside Obama’s cheeky email campaign

Posted on: December 3, 2012

Business Insider has shared a fascinating look at what helped the Obama campaign raise so much money during his recent successful presidential bid. The key was a highly successful combination of science and creativity – with what has been described as “strange, incessant, and weirdly over familiar” email subject lines and content.

A/B testing is a technique popular with web designers. It involves showing two different versions of a page to users – and measuring which gets the best response (this could be in terms of time spent on page, or the completion of a desired goal – i.e.  purchase or successful registration). The Obama campaign triumphed by being brave, cheeky, and optimising subject lines, content and formatting (with often as many as 18 variations) incessantly to find out what achieved the best results for its fundraising emails. In the end, the ‘winning’ email subject line was ‘I will be outspent’ – a rather passive aggressive line that obviously shook Obama supporters with their worst fear: that his opponent would spend more, and win the election on that basis.

This provides a strong reminder of how valuable access to data is, in running successful communications activity. Even if you are working agency-side, and somewhat removed from your client’s analytics – it is imperative to know what is working by getting access to as much data like this as possible from across their channels.

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