Lesson from the Obama Campaign: Email Marketing Rocks!

Using email newsletters to lower the cost of online brand building

When the history of the 2008 U.S. Presidential election is written, the role of the Internet, and especially email, will be recognized for having revolutionized campaign strategy more than any technology since John F. Kennedy mastered using television in 1960.

According to Business Week magazine, this is evidenced by the “more than $200 million Obama has raised online, the 2 million phone calls made on the candidate’s behalf, and in barackobama.com’s social network of 850,000 users, who have organized 50,000 campaign events.”

The lesson for online publishers and marketers: Email marketing did the heavy lifting.

Throughout the campaign, Obama supporters exchanged their personal data for a ticket to a rally or an email alert about the candidate’s choice for a running mate. Or they opted in on Facebook or MyBarackObama.com.

According to the Associated Press, that created a database of 3.1 million contributors and more than 10 million supporters who helped power Mr. Obama’s victories over Democratic rival Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republican John McCain.

This virtual army of online activists was mass emailed at a cost close to zero and organized into a viral lobbying and communications machine.

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Thomas Gensemer, managing partner of Blue State Digital, the firm that created and managed Mr. Obama’s successful online communities and email campaigns, is an expert in online fundraising, advocacy, social networking, and constituency development programs for nonprofit organizations, political candidates and causes, and corporations.

He recently revealed that passionate Obama supporters and registered email recipients exercised email open rates in the 30 percent range.

That open rate compares favorably with most Mequoda System clients who successfully use email to build their brand and sell all manner of branded information products.

“Email was the low barrier foundation for everything else we did,” Gensemer said, “and the most essential piece of the marketing machine”.

The new president’s team is now transforming its vast Web operation and database of email newsletter subscribers into a modern new tool to accomplish his goals in the White House.

Using email newsletters and direct promotional messages, President Obama will have an unprecedented ability to communicate his messages directly to millions of Americans, bypassing both the traditional news media and political advertising.


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