As a candidate for elected office you should be using email to communicate with your voters.
Your website and your email list are the two digital assets you absolutely control.
Your campaign’s Facebook page, Twitter account, and You Tube channel can be deleted without warning or appeal at the whim of Silicon Valley’s tech oligarchs.
If you’ve been putting all of your eggs into those social media baskets, you’ve effectively built your campaign’s home on rented land.
You can be digitally evicted and homeless without any recourse — and the voters won’t likely have a clue what happened to you.
That’s why you need to put the majority of your online efforts into building your email lists.
Your campaign owns them and controls them. They are key for you to stay in contact with the voters of your district, your supporters, your volunteers, your donors, and even the press.
If you haven’t been putting too much thought or effort into building email lists, you need to do so now — not tomorrow or next week.
And here’s three ways you can do so successfully.
1. Personally Build Your Email List
When you talk to a voter who either supports your candidacy or might, you should add them to your email list.
But you should never add them without their permission.
When you get a voter’s email, tell them you’d like to send them regular updates from your campaign.
That’s one of the reasons it is important to have a place on your endorsement card for a person to put their email.
When a voter provides their email to you on an endorsement card they assume you’re going to be emailing them.
In other cases where you get someone’s email – either because they email you or hand you a business card – you should not automatically add them to your list.
We’ve all been added to email lists this way and it’s aggravating.
I personally spend more time unsubscribing from unsolicited emails than I do reading the message they sent me.
Don’t be one of those annoying people who adds ever email they’ve ever encountered to their lists.
Always ask a person who’s email you have if it’s okay for you to add them to your list.
If they say yes, then by all means do so.
Should they say no, don’t ignore their request and put them on your list anyway. It will only upset them.
The same goes for friends and family you might want to your campaign email list.
Yes, they love and support you, but you should still get their permission before sending them campaign emails.
We all receive a ton of email and having a fuller inbox isn’t something anyone wants.
2. Collect Email on Your Campaign Website
You should also be collecting emails on your campaign website.
In the upper right hand corner of your website there should be a place for voters to join your email list.
The link or the button in the upper right corner should invite the voters to click it by saying something like “Support My Campaign” or “Get Campaign Updates.”
Where the sign up form it takes the voter always make it clear that you will be emailing them time to time with updates on your campaign.
This opportunity to join your list should also be presented at the bottom of every page and article on your website.
And if you want to take your email collection game to the next level, you should consider adding a pop-up.
That’s how I do it at The Campaign School website and it works.
Here’s a couple of pop-up tool options for your campaign:
Sumo offers free tools to build your list. That should work for most local campaigns.
Sumo’s what I used when I first launched the site.
Lead Pages is another option for you, but comes with a price tag.
I’ve used both and they have been tremendous for building my email subscriber list.
3. Purchase Voter Emails
Another way to grow your email list is to purchase lists of voters in your district.
These are not warm leads, so you most likely won’t get the engagement you would from a list you built.
That said, a good voter email list purchased from your elections official or a reputable data vendor, would put your messages in front of tons of voters you never meet personally.
Should you sent to a purchased list, be sure to follow the best email marketing practices and always scrub the list.
You don’t want to get blacklisted as a spammer by sending to a list with too many bad emails or that contains SPAM traps.
You also need to make the unsubscribe link very clear so the voters who want off the list can easily remove themselves from future campaign emails.
Email lists are a campaign’s most important digital asset.
You control your email lists, Big Tech controls social media and can de-platform you at any moment.
Email allows you to contact voters and supporters in addition to or in absence of social media.
You need to be collecting emails and communicating with the voters — especially your supporters.
Work on building your email list every day and you’ll have a direct and instant line to the voters that you and your campaign control.