Email Overload Dilutes Message

The public is fast learning how to dodge and ignore the hail of political email, quickly diminishing the impact of what’s been a reliable and low-cost campaign tool.

Open rates for marketing-related emails are now at historic lows — more than 80 percent go unread — a trend that is scary to campaign operatives who rely on it as their primary mode of communications with potential donors, voters and volunteers.

A generational shift is also taking place, said Vincent Harris, a 24-year-old GOP digital consultant credited with using social media to launch Senate front-runner Ted Cruz of Texas. Younger people rely less on email and more on texting and social media venues such as Facebook and Twitter for communicating, he said.

Engaging social media in such sophisticated ways is important, but digital consultant Harris believes there are even simpler solutions. Open rates are dramatically higher for recipients who have opted into an email list, he said, but many campaigns swap or buy email lists and start sending unsolicited messages that are regarded as spam. That practice diminishes the overall effectiveness of all campaign email, he said.

“Campaigns think they can take the easy way out by buying emails, but folks don’t want to receive communications from folks who obtain their names that way,” Harris said. “There is a danger because the market is flooded. I’m on a bunch of lists I never signed up for.”
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