Jordan Ayan, CEO of SubscriberMail, has written a great article about where the Obama and McCain campaigns are going wrong when it comes to their database marketing techniques. Obama gets the lion's share of credit on his use of the Internet to raise money and aggregate supporters, but Ayan's criticisms of both him and McCain are on-point. Any radio station programmers could easily take away some great lessons from his observations, which I've summarized in today's post:
Inconsistent "from" addresses - Ayan notes that while the campaigns often use "Barack" or "John" when sending out emails, they also use unrecognizable names, too. As he points out, "Candidates' names are their brand." Using the celebrity of your airstaff is a key to getting attention and impacting open rates, instead of a generic station address.
Targeting - Ayan complains that once you sign-up, the campaigns don't gather any additional data to target later messages. Radio stations are universally guilty of this, missing a great opportunity to hit fans of bands or station personalities with narrower, on-target email messaging. Instead, email "blasts" tend to send the same missives to everyone in the database. You end up receiving a lot of email about promotions that you don't care about, leading to more unsubscribes. Speaking of which...
Unsubscribe problems - It's not easy to stop the email onslaught if you choose to opt out. The Democrats force you to go to a web page to use a numeric code they email to you, creating a convoluted unsubscribe process (that often doesn't work). McCain forces you to give a reason when you unsubscribe (Ex: "I'm no longer a McCain supporter").
Building a relationship - Ayan contends that rather than make a real connection with Americans, both campaigns are simply trying to get your vote. He talks about the lack of welcome messages when signing up, and feels that no matter who wins in November, they probably won't use the power of their email database after the election.
In radio, "the election" takes place every week, whether it's PPM or the diary. The importance of stations starting, building, and maintaining email relationships is paramount to radio's long-term future. As we have said many times in this space, email databasing allows stations to create relationships that don't exist with other media or gadgets.