It doesn’t matter which side of the aisle you’re on (or if you don’t believe in the two party system at all): the 2016 presidential candidates can teach us a thing or two about email marketing. 

Email marketing plays a crucial role for candidates, as it’s the most targeted way to quickly reach supporters and motivate them to donate to their campaign. At the very least, it allows candidates to keep supporters abreast of what’s happening with their campaign and reinforce their messaging points.

Presidential candidates are operating within a very specific and stressful set of restrictions and needs that you may or may not have for your own marketing. From a consistently dire need to receive donations, to a limited time frame to market themselves (they only have until November 2016, and that’s if they’re lucky), the candidates don’t have time to waste sending emails that don’t motivate readers to take action.

We looked at emails sent by both Democratic and Republican presidential candidates in April 2016 to figure out what tactics can be used by anyone managing email marketing campaigns. Below are four tips that you can reference to help you send more effective emails – endorsed by candidates across the board.

1. Make Your Call to Action Pop

The candidates know that your time – and attention – is limited. Though they have a lot to say, they make it easy to understand the purpose of each email and the action they want you to take.

This is achieved by making their message pop in two ways: calls-to-action being bolded within each email, and colorful buttons drawing readers’ eyes to a button.

By making it hard to miss the most important information in each email, readers without the time or attention to read a full email can still take action. It doesn’t matter whether you are asking your list to donate, to shop your online store or download a white paper: what matters is that they can quickly figure out what you want them to do after reading your email.

Let’s take a look at this in action, courtesy of the Clinton campaign:


Other candidates use this call-to-action formatting as well, and for good reason: just a quick glance at this email lets you know what action the sender wants the reader to take. 

2. Appeal Directly to the Reader by Making Them the Focus

The candidates know they don’t stand a chance without their supporters having their back. The same goes for your business: without your customers, you’re toast. That’s why candidate emails appeal directly to their readers, using first and second person language, speaking to how their supporters are as important in the election as the candidates themselves.

Here’s how one candidate empowered their readers to take action by making them feel like they play an important role in the campaign:


This type of language doesn’t always need to be as drawn out or explicit as in the example above. What’s important is that email marketers remember that we all want to feel like we are part of something special. Let your readers feel that by making them the star of your email – not your brand.

3. Email Frequently

If you want to know how often the candidates are emailing their lists, the answer is: a lot.

In fact, daily emails are the norm for many candidates. While this many emails might be overkill for your brand, emailing frequency is a hugely important consideration that can have a big impact on the success of your emails.

HubSpot conducted a study in 2015 to determine what the most effective number of emails to send per month to your list. They found that the optimal range was “sixteen to thirty email campaigns a month. Companies that send 16 – 30 campaigns a month see a click rate more than 2X greater than the click rate of companies that send 2 or fewer campaigns a month.”

Before you schedule your next 30 emails, remember that not everyone responds well to increased marketing communication. As Campaign Monitor rightfully points out, some people will respond to more emails with increased engagement, but others will respond by unsubscribing.

The best way to increase your frequency is to be smart about who sees more emails. In this case, being smart means segmenting your list. Send more frequent emails to the people who have a track record of opening and clicking links in your emails, as they’ve already shown interest in your content and are more likely to convert than the people who don’t open most of your emails to begin with.

4. Emphasize Urgency

In case you hadn’t heard, there’s a presidential election coming up.

And before that, there are some elections to help determine who will be the nominee for each party.

And before those elections and nominations, there are a whole lot of fundraising deadlines that must be met.

If there’s one word to describe the tone of the emails being sent by each of the presidential candidates, it’s urgent. Of course, most of their deadlines are more important to the candidate than you (especially if you’ve already voted in your state’s primary and are just waiting for the big one in November).

Even though some of these deadlines aren’t personally important to the reader, the campaign emails emphasize the urgency of their calls to action so strongly that it becomes hard to determine what’s really urgent in your eyes, and what is just urgent for the candidate.

This isn’t to say that some of the deadlines aren’t really urgent for their supporters – take a look at the email below.


These urgent requests are helping candidates hit last-minute fundraising and phoning goals. Don’t think your business has any urgent requests for your email list? Create them.

Whether it’s a special sale for your email list that only lasts until midnight, or a free offer to download a whitepaper until the end of the week, urgency can easily be created to motivate readers to act.

While your email marketing may not necessitate the intensity that candidate emails do, you can take a queue from them to improve the effectiveness of your work. With crystal clear calls-to-action, empowering and inclusive language, frequent emails, and a sense of urgency, your readers will be more likely to sense the importance of your message and more motivated to take action.