Lessons from the General Election campaign trail

New analysis of the direct marketing efforts of UK's political parties exposes how campaign teams are failing to engage voters. Here's what businesses can learn.

In the race to secure votes by June 8th, political parties in the UK have ramped up their campaigning efforts. New research from Mailjet reveals what’s working and what clearly isn’t.

If the general election campaign was based on direct marketing performance alone, the Scottish National Party will walk away with a victory and Labour will outperform the Conservatives.

Marketing experts within Mailjet analysed the communications sent by the major political parties over a four week period and scored emails on seven separate performance indicators including; design, personalisation, cross-channel marketing, automation and creativity of content.

Out of a possible total of 29 points, the research shows all parties are failing to make use of email communications as effectively as they could to reach voters. In fact, the Conservative Party only sent two emails throughout the four week test period, achieving just 10.5 points, compared to the other parties sending seven on average.

Appeal to the people

The analysis shows campaign leaders aren’t using personalisation techniques. The only details required on sign-up for each party’s emails were name, email address and postcode.

Labour secured the highest result in this area with 1.09 out of a possible 5 points, showing that in a campaign where appealing to individuals to secure their vote is key. However, the research suggests all the parties could do more to build stronger relationships with voters.

All of the parties bar the Conservatives address their emails to the individual by name. Interestingly, the Conservative party scored 0 for personalisation, as in emails they address the ‘Conservatives’ as a collective group.

“The generic mass messages being shared by parties in this snap election show no evidence of audience segmentation to increase the relevance of emails to their recipients,” Josie Scotchmer, UK marketing manager at Mailjet, said. “The only use of personalisation was using the first name to address readers; parties fail to take advantage of huge opportunities to resonate with voters based on their location and demographic data.”

Language to lure voters

When it comes to subject lines, the Green Party takes the lead, with 2.67 points out of 5. Labour is just ahead of the Conservative party with 2.55 points against the Tories’ 2.5 points.

The experts look at the optimum length, word inclusion, whether subject lines are personal and include a call to action, and whether they’re creative. For example, the Green Party shared an email titled ‘OK I admit it. I’m lonely’ where Caroline Lucas calls on the party’s supporters to elect another MP alongside her. The Labour party’s email subject lines also include snappy statements such as ‘Dodged questions’, ‘Last chance’ and ‘We will be outspent’ to drive open rates and action from the recipient.

In contrast, the SNP won the majority of their points on core content and call to action, scoring 3.0 out of 5 and 3.27 out of 5 respectively. The party’s emails include video content as well as strong calls to action, asking its subscriber base to volunteer and donate highlighted with the design of buttons. Labour also scored well here, sharing their manifesto amidst the news it had been leaked, and offering branded Labour campaign bags for the supporters quickest to donate.

Two other areas of email marketing the political parties are not utilising at the moment are automation and cross-channel marketing inclusion. For example, social media buttons, redirecting to app or website content were only used by the Scottish National Party and Green Party. The Green Party are also the only candidates showing signs of using automation techniques, but even this was minimal.

“In failing to adopt automation throughout their election campaigns, these political parties have missed a huge trick,” Scotchmer added. “Automation can greatly affect relationships with supporters as they now expect engagement from organisations that is tailored to their interests and delivered in real-time. In addition, it’s not expensive to deliver campaigns in this way; the market for this technology is now competitive and it’s increasingly possible to invest in automation at every level.”

Scoring criteria

Design best practices – email is viewed on a desktop, mobile and tablet device and scored according to whether it is responsive and how well the design works across formats
Personalisation – any evidence of changed fields or gender-bias for example
Subject line – optimum length, word inclusion, personal
Call to action – placement in message, creativity, urgency, design
Automation – evidence of a series of emails, triggering based on past interaction, welcome programs
Cross-channel marketing inclusion – social media buttons, directing to app or website content
Creative impact of content – format, appeal, interactivity, tone, strong brand personality

Each email was individually scored according to how well it met the criteria, with 5 being the best possible score. The average result was then calculated for each party.

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2016 to 2018.

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