I think that we all have our favorite email days.  I don’t mean your favorite days to send; I mean the days that you receive your favorite subscriptions.  One of those days for me is Tuesday when the latest from Ken Magill arrives.

This week’s lead article – and attention-getting Subject Line, Stupid Political Watch: Republicans Spamming, reminded me that I’ve had a good time poking fun at one side of the political spectrum but have totally missed opportunities to poke fun at the other side.  And there’s a lot to poke fun at….  While I might disagree on some of the technicalities of Ken’s impression of Republican spamming, the impression is still the same.

I’m going to go a little further in naming names and showing screen shots than Ken did.  I’m not trying to pick on anybody or any one publisher, but I do hope some publishers stop and think about what they’re doing and how it looks from the other side of the Inbox.

Ken gave some examples of why he thinks that conservative groups are sharing lists.  I don’t think that these groups are outright sharing lists, but I do think that a lot are abusing their subscriber lists by renting them to newsmax_mypostinieverybody and their dad’s dog.  Newsmax is one of the worst perpetrators, in my opinion.  

With full-page ads in DMA print publications and their email rate card readily available online, they are a frequent visitor to my Postini with great subject lines like, “Eggs Reduce High Blood Pressure” and “The Incredible Healing Powers of Vinegar”.  I just don’t seem to remember subscribing to Newsmax to reduce my blood pressure or learn the healthful uses of vinegar….

One of the emails that Ken mentions came with the subject line, “Obama Lies—Senate Uses Sneak Attack on Guns”.  This message was sent by several conservative publishers; I got 4 or 5 of them all at once and from different senders.  It only makes sense that multiple publishers within the same interest categories are going to share subscribers. 

What doesn’t make sense is why some of these advertisers don’t apply tools like UnsubCentral to make sure that their target audience isn’t getting the same message from 15 different senders.  That really damages the brand of both advertiser and publisher.  The advertiser comes off looking like a spammer (and having Ken Magill call them out on it), ccrkba1and the publisher looks like a pimp whoring out their subscribers to anyone that will pay their CPM; or worse yet if they took a CPA….

Ken mentions the sender of the “Obama Lies—Senate Uses Sneak Attack on Guns” message as “Gun Alerts”, but what was the email address behind it?  I get emails from David Plouffe and Mitch Stewart all of the time, but the email address behind the sender name is always the same. 

Not really knowing better or wanting to listen to anyone that does, several groups on the conservative side of email messaging follow this same bad practice.  Note to all that think Sender-Roulette is a good idea:  The general public probably does not know your name or associate it with your “brand”.  If you want your name as part of the sender, lead with the organization I subscribed to or risk being deleted or marked as spam. amsoldryan

 

Maybe conservative publishers don’t even consider that they might be abusing their subscribers.  They may even think, “Hey, people interested in conservative points of political view get cold just like everybody else.  I wonder if conservatives know about the Snuggie Blanket with Sleeves?”.  snuggie_email

Yep, that’s a real email that I received on February, 12th.  It did get caught by Postini.  

Ken points out that Yahoo is already filtering email from conservative senders to his Junk folder, and you’ve gotten a glimpse of my Postini – and my Postini is at its lightest setting…. 

Ken also states, “Just because it’s political speech doesn’t mean ISPs won’t block it as spam. The First Amendment does not apply to emailers sucking up ISPs’ resources by forcing them to process their junk.” and he is 100% correct.  But what we see here are not all political messages. Where we do see political messages is as I alluded to above; like-minded publications “renting” the list for each and every like-minded publication making their subscribers available for rent, all while not considering that there will be a percentage of overlap in subscribers, or caring to do anything about it.

On the other side we see politically conservative publications sending any message for a dollar or the promise of a dollar.  Human Events is pimping Snuggie Blankets with Sleeves;

snuggie_postini

While Townhall is pimping “No Contract Cellular Phone” plans – starting as low as $10 per month!  Whoo hoo!  I always turn to Townhall for my Cellular communications needs….  So glad I subscribed….

th_cellphonead1

But these are just conservative publications, what about the stupid things the GOP & RNC do with email?

Since naming Michael Steele as the new Chairman, RNC emails look a lot like Obama emails, except in red.  The words are different, of course, but it still shows the RNC as online followers – and not always of the best practices – and not really leaders.  And the RNC still has this mindset of why use only 50 words when they can use 500 in an email. 

After Steele became RNC Chair, the RNC sent out the “GOP Weekly Trunk“.  I’m assuming that “Trunk” is some sort of elephant reference….  Whatever….  A week later I get the next installment of what was promised as a weekly, this time named the “RNC Weekly Trunk“.  That was the last one that I received.  So much for the expectations of a weekly newsletter….

At least someone at the RNC has gotten a clue that writing messages the length of an Atlas Shrugged chapter is a bit much for an email message.  The weekly newsletters – both of them – now feature short descriptions of several topics that link off to the full story.  I think that an average (between the two) of 9 topics is a bit much, but hey, it’s hard to go from messages with an average of 2,000 words to just summing things up. 

A short description of a full article with links to the full story is a  good idea for a newsletter of this type and really some pretty basic stuff.  But don’t let that fool you that the RNC is getting a handle on the basic stuff.  After all, not one of the links in either of the “weekly” newsletters have any sort of click-tracking, but then again, the RNC never uses any click-tracking anyway….  Come on, guys!  How can you manage what you can’t measure?

“But John, it’s the message, it’s the message….” 

Okay, and how would they measure the effectiveness of the message?  “Opens”?  An inaccurate and misleading metric – not something that stands on its own.  And if that’s all they’re measuring, what does it tell them?  If one is not measuring metrics they’re just sending email for the sake of sending email – but at least they got to check that box off of their “to-do” list….

As Meghan McCain pointed out last February, “Unless the GOP evolves as the party that can successfully utilize the Web, we’ll continue to lose influence” and “denial only amplifies the stereotypes about Republicans being disconnected”.

So, in the end I don’t think that Republicans are spammers in the technical sense of the term, but they are pretty stupid when it comes to email and it looks obvious that they intend to stay that way.  It’s not like there aren’t plenty of books to read about good – or even basic – email marketing.  And it’s not that there aren’t qualified people available to give the RNC email advice – they just choose not to take it….