15 Jun 2015
June 15, 2015

Why You Should Build Relationships, Not Lists

When you’re managing a political campaign or running for office yourself, learning how to interact with your unique group of supporters and subscribers can be a perplexing task. No two lists are alike, and learning the dynamic of yours is absolutely essential to successful communication and, most importantly, the relationship you build with each individual.

networkingred

Get Real

When it comes to email lists, the one thing that keeps people engaged and subscribed is real human input and interaction from your side. When subscribers can feel a human presence in the emails they receive, they are exponentially more likely to take your message to heart. This effort leads to the development of a real rapport, regardless of whether it began in person or through a computer screen.

Let Them Know You’re Paying Attention

People remember how they heard of you and when they decided to opt in to your emails. Let them know that you’re paying attention to how you met and what they’re interested in. If you have a group of people who joined your list by filling out a form on your website, tailor your first contact with them to that experience.

For instance, your first email could read something like:

 Hi Bob,

I noticed you signed up for our emails on JohnDoeforDA.com. I’m excited for you to join the conversation! We will do our very best to provide you with great content and keep you informed. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Adam

Bob might guess this email was automated, but then again, he may not. Maybe he actually does have a question. By sending your email from an actual human being, Community Manager Adam, you gave Bob a real, informed person to reach out to. This personalized touch reminds Bob that your campaign isn’t just an ambiguous entity with a mascot and an agenda, but a place where like-minded people have decided to work together to achieve a common goal.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

After you’ve sent your subscribers an introductory email and with some interesting news and content, invite them to volunteer and make donations without hesitation. Assuming you’ve been building lists full of people you have an actual understanding of and relationship with, they’ll be interested in backing you up! Don’t hound them around the clock, and your list and relationships should hold up just fine.

But Don’t Over Do It

Just make sure you aren’t constantly asking for favors. We have all had that friend who wanted to get a lot more than they gave, and that’s how our campaign can feel if you aren’t putting your supporters first. The “friend” that’s always asking for something—coming over and snagging all of the food in your fridge, inviting themselves to things that weren’t meant for them, and being an all-around “mooch” —never stays a friend for very long.

Give More Than You Take

Build great content that interests your supporters and share it with them. Educate them, entertain them, and give them more than you ask for. Once you’ve established that you are trying to improve the community you both care about, they will go out of their way to help you accomplish your goals.

The Golden Rule

Many campaign managers fail to realize how many marketing emails the average person receives a day, which makes personalizing each message a low priority. Many of us think we can insert the subscribers first name in the email with an automated tool on Mailchimp or Constant Contact, and be done with it. I am here to tell you, that is not enough. If your emails aren’t adding value to your subscribers’ lives, they’re downright annoying. Always keep that in mind. Speak to your lists the way you would want to be spoken to and about the things they want to learn about.

Make Time for Face Time

If your supporters are concentrated in any certain area, it’s a great idea to create a space for them to meet with you and one another. Plan a happy hour, a networking event, or anything else you think they would enjoy. Take the opportunity to reinforce the fact that passionate, approachable people coordinate your campaign! Taking your campaign from online to in-person can only deepen your relationships and take your mission further, faster.

By using tools like A/B testing, great segmentation, and spending some face time with your supporters in real life, you can reach your audience in a much more valuable and efficient way than through sending mass emails to purchased lists of disinterest individuals. Always remember that it isn’t the size of the list that matters, it’s transforming listeners into believers in your mission, then your friends, and finally your loyal supporters, donors, and advocates.

Campaign Fundraising Whitepaper

John Connors

Written by John Connors

John Connors is the President and founder of Campaign Now. He grew up in northern Wisconsin and now lives in Dallas, TX. He's a political guy with a good eye on marketing and metrics.