This is a perfect example of how even big campaigns sometimes miss on the basics of email communication. So I’m scanning through my email on a busy day, and it contains a mix of spam and commercial promotions. I make my living as a tech magazine writer, so some of the promotions are legit, such as press releases from companies I maybe should be paying attention to. There are also a couple of political emails in this batch. Can you spot them?
The one that jumps out more is Martin Kiar’s (good job, Martin), because it includes little details like the name of the candidate. But the other is from a much more high profile campaign, Jim Davis for Governor. Except I don’t know that until I actually open the message.
This is what I see then:
OK, up until now the only way I’d know this was from the Jim Davis campaign is if I recognized the name Jennifer O’Malley. No disrespect intended, as I assume she’s an important person in the campaign. But sorry, no name recognition here. And that subject line, “And we’re off!” could be anything. In my world, could definitely be a publicity person writing about the launch of a new product. Could be one of those messages telling me that some stock is about to take off and wouldn’t I like to get in on the ground floor? In other words, it’s a message I’d be inclined to ignore and maybe even delete unread.
Now that I have the email open, I can see that the email is from jimdavis2006.com, and the candidate’s name is in the first sentence, so now I know why I’m supposed to pay attention to this. Still not as eye catching as it’s supposed to be because by default my email program doesn’t display images (a defense against certain spam and hacker techniques).
So it’s not until I tell the software I trust jimdavis.com that I see the message in all it’s glory:
Having the images displayed wasn’t critical in this case, which is good. The worse thing that I’ve seen campaigns do is send out something like an event information where all of the information is embedded in an image file. Often this is done because someone has come up with a cute graphical treatment that they’re proud of, but the consequence is that if image display is turned off, all recipients see is a blank message. There are technical ways to work around this (alternative text that can be displayed if the image isn’t), but you really have to work at making sure that, no matter what, your message gets through.
In case it wasn’t clear, the point of this critique was not to say anything bad about the Davis campaign, just to emphasize how important it is to identify campaign emails clearly enough that email recipients can see at a glance why they should open your message.