Although it is one of the oldest online communication channels, email remains a cornerstone tool for political parties and campaigns. Relative to other digital options, email tends to have a higher response rate from recipients; emailing people a request that they take a particular action will often yield ten times more responses than a Facebook post targeting an equal number of people. One reason for email’s utility is that it blends some of the comparative advantages of other communications mediums, such as the microtargeting of a direct mailer, with the low cost of social media.
Similarly, email can support a variety of campaign functions, including fundraising, volunteer recruitment and mobilization, internal and external communications, and public opinion research, and it can be easily incorporated across other digital platforms. Many of the best campaign websites maximize conversion by integrating numerous opportunities for action, many of which require visitors to provide an email address, immediately expanding a supporter or volunteer database. Furthermore, many people expect to take an action when using email, meaning they could be more likely to donate money, volunteer or sign up for an event.
Additionally, email’s accessibility provides citizens with a platform to engage their elected officials and hold government accountable. Most government officials and offices share their email addresses publicly, allowing citizens to communicate their concerns, seek clarifications or demand action. If citizens feel that their voices are not being heard, email provides a convenient platform for them to organize and mobilize like-minded activists, or to share information with a listserv.
Parties and campaigns rarely function within the exact same context, so they must perform adequate analysis and planning prior to implementing new tech tools; however, there are some general best practices to help campaigns improve their email outreach. For more, check out Wellstone’s Tips for Email Organizing and the New Organizing Institute’s 10 Tips for Effective Emails.