So this wasn’t what I expected as my first post of the new year – especially after having not posted in about a month – but you know that I just can’t help from ridiculing political email idiots.  Usually when I write about political email idiots I try to keep it at a national level, but the pickings have just been so good in California the past few days….

I’d noticed a couple of messages from candiates vying to run against Barbara Boxer here in California.  One of those messages made the hair on the back of my neck stand up from an email messaging perspective.  I was going to just let it go – after all, it’s regional not national – but when I saw “‘Sent from the candidate’s BlackBerry.’ Really?” on a CNN blog this morning…. 

The article calls the campaign of Carly Fiorina out for being disingenuous in claiming that an email solicitation was personally sent from her BlackBerry.  I’ll give CNN fiorina1props for pointing out that messages sent from a BlackBerry don’t contain embedded links nor can the sender add a box around any text.  I do, however, have to take away some points for missing the more obvious “FW:” in the subject line. 

Number 15 of the 50 Signs You’re a Spammer is “Your subject lines begin with “Re:” or “Fwd:” even though you didn’t reply or forward.”  And don’t even get me started on tracking pixels and unsubscribe links in a message sent from a BlackBerry!?

Fiorina’s communications director, Julie Soderlund, tried to use the “everybody else does it” excuse when quoted as saying “It’s consistent with what many other candidates are doing at the end of the filing period.”  Erick Erickson, the editor-in-chief of RedState.com, hit the nail on the head when he said. “I think it undermines the credibility of online campaigns for candidates to do stuff like that.” 

It doesn’t just undermine the credibility of the candidate’s online campaign, but in my opinion the credibility of the candidate themselves.  After all, if it was a product instead of a person, and the company was pulling spammer tricks, how much faith or confidence would the buyer really have in that organization or their product?  I’m just sayin’….

I found it interesting that the “many other candidates” that Soderlund referenced all happen to use the same political online consulting firm that Carly Fiorina uses; emotive.  Coincidence?  I don’t think so…. 

Peter Pasi, Executive VP  from emotive stated that all of their clients see the content of messages before they are deployed.  So what?  If the client was told by their consultant that behaving like a spammer is effective, how much of the blame for poor emailing practices rests on the shoulders of the consultant?  I’m just askin’….

Now, this same brilliant consulting firm doesn’t seem to know the difference between a text and an HTML message.  Apparently in their world “text” means no pictures based on Mr. Pasi’s comment, “We have seen in some cases that plain text e-mails are opened more than those with heavy HTML”. 

Huh?

Um, Mr.Pasi, any message that starts with <html> IS an HTML message regardless of images….  And, seriously; “heavy HTML”?  Have you seen the code behind your “text” message?  I’m thinking that maybe emotive should probably stop selling email messaging advice until they maybe get a clue about effective email messaging.

Ms. Fiorina’s primary contender is Chuck DeVore whose online consulting firm is Raise Digital.  While the DeVore campaign has dabbled in some of the typical bad email practices that seem to be standard fare for most political emailers, Managing Director, Justin Hart, actually looks at more than just how much money might have come from any given campaign. 

Earlier this year, when Chuck DeVore was endorsed by Senator DeMint and the Senate Conservatives Fund, we sent out an email notice to our group with “Senator Jim DeMint” as the sender.  Nothing untoward here but immediately we saw an uptick in unsubscribes.  Key lesson learned: your subscribers trust you and no one else.  If you change expectations or authenticity you lose a portion of that trust.  We decided then and there to take our responsibility to our subscribers more seriously.
If only more politicians (and businesses) treated email messaging – and their responsibility to subscribers – that same way….  Email marketing and messaging is about building relationships, not hounding out a series of one-night-stands.

Justin goes on to say,

One thing I constantly have to remind myself: email is a speedy medium but that does not speed up the time it takes to earn trust.  There are no shortcuts to building online trust.  When you try to force the hand of your subscribers they will punch you back.  That’s why emails which we acquired in August are just now reaping net rewards.  Innovation happens on the subject line and the message but not at the expense of authenticity.
Good advice for both political and commercial emailers….