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The carefully worded emails that helped President Obama raise $690 million

November 30, 2012

A series of “strange, incessant, and weirdly overfamiliar” emails from the Obama camp was responsible for most of the $690 million that the president’s team raised online during the campaign, reports. Tens of millions of people who shared their email addresses began receiving messages from Barack Obama with subject lines like “Join me for dinner?”, “It doesn’t have to be this way,” and “Wow.”

In their style and substance, the emails were the product of rigorous testing by a team of analysts who experimented with subject lines, messages, fonts and formatting. A casual tone was deemed most effective. “The subject lines that worked best were things you might see in your in-box from other people,” Toby Fallsgraff, the campaign’s e-mail director, is quoted as saying. “‘Hey’ was probably the best one we had over the duration.” Notes that used mild curse words — “Hell yeah, I like Obamacare” — also earned big clicks.

The tests yielded a counterintuitive insight: that most people won’t unsubscribe no matter how many e-mails they’re sent. Still, says Fallsgraff, “We do know that getting all those e-mails in your in-box is at least mildly irritating to some people.” — Greg Beaubien


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