FWD BLOG: The best campaign email I have ever seen was sent by Andrew Yang

Regardless of your favorite 2020 candidate there are some key elements to communicating with your supporters that more well-known campaigns don’t seem hungry enough to take the time to learn and embrace.

The typical campaign email involves 2 steps:

  • Discuss some “outrage of the week”
  • Donate money and/or sign a petition to my campaign to fight back

Yet a candidate that thinks that their email list is just a vehicle to fundraise off of the behavior of Trump or any other political stooge is making a huge mistake.

You might pull in some money that way and update/gorw your email list a little bit but how soon until your supporters unsubscribe or stop opening these messages?

Its great that you brought in some cash to hire a new field organizer but wouldn’t a passionate volunteer or neighbor be a more valuable messenger?

A true grassroots-focused campaign email should:

  • Share a message and/or content that includes a message via articles, interviews, speeches and short videos.
  • Share an action the recipient can take to help the campaign to spread the message.
  • Ask for donations to fund the action or future actions.
  • On a regular basis include a briefing of campaign activities with a roundup of events/actions for volunteers and active supporters.

Hence, a candidate that wants to WIN is going to go further by activating their supporters to do a lot more than donate or even “volunteer” in the traditional sense. They will primarily use their communications to enlist people into a “Movement” or simply a community of citizens who have common values and a common goal. And to discuss the strategy and results along the way.

They need to see the candidate delivering their message not just a bunch of text some intern could have cut-and-pasted in. That also shows the progress they’re making delivering that message to more people at events or in the media. Then they should be encouraged to help share those authentic messages and that progress via their own networks and local grassroots communities.

Supporters need to be encouraged to take in-person actions as well. They should invited to gather as a community through local grassroots events starting with a house party/meet-and-greet, organizing meeting or happy hour/fundraiser. And of course, they are needed as volunteers to reach voters outside their networks at a visibility event like a farmer’s market, postcard/phone bank party or door-to-door canvass.

Not everyone will do every item on that list, but the bottom line is there is a lot of work for a candidate’s supporters to do and the main costs involve hiring some staff to oversee things, printing some color literature and ordering some pizza from time to time.

If you’re spending all your money on paid advertising to accomplish those goals instead you’re not going to last long. And if you do things the hard way the average supporter won’t feel engaged or utilized which is not a great morale booster.

And if you build your community properly you won’t have have as much pressure to ask for money anymore, as it will come from the web site while people use it to find a local event or at those local house parties and fundraisers. Some will never be seen via the “in-kind” donations of snacks and drinks for phone bankers so they don’t leave early to grab dinner at home.

You know who gets this? Tech-savvy folks that know how to build communities like Andrew Yang. And some old-school community organizer named Barack Obama.

Here it is in practice in 2019:

Jim —

Hello and thank you for your incredible support! It means the world to us.

This past week was an enormous one in the media. I was interviewed by AliVelshi, Chris Hayes, and Joy Reid on MSNBC, Ben Shapiro on his Sunday Special, and George Stephanopoulos on ABC. I also did a Town Hall in Concord, New Hampshire on campaign finance reform hosted by Lawrence Lessig that was livestreamed by NowThis.

As a campaign, we are performing phenomenally. We have qualified for the DNC Primary Debates in June and July. We now have over 90,000 individual donors, well above the threshold required to qualify for the debates in June and July. Thank you for making it happen! We raised over $1.7 million in the first quarter — 99% of it from small donors — and sold almost $300,000 in swag. We have hundreds of Yang Gangs around the country and thousands of volunteers.

The CNN Town Hall this Sunday at 8pm will be an enormous opportunity to introduce myself to millions of Americans. The more people learn about the campaign, the stronger we get.

It has been amazing to reach this point. Now, the hard part begins — we have been calling it Phase Two. Here is what we must achieve moving forward:

  1. Polling. The DNC is going to cut the number of debate participants from ~20 to ~10 in September. The threshold for making the 3rd DNC debate in September is going to be polling support, either nationally or in the early voting states. I am presently polling at between 1 and 3% depending on the poll and the market. We have about 4 and a half months to increase both my awareness and support levels to multiples of what they currently are to make sure I’m in the top 10.
  2. Momentum. Despite our massive success to date, we need to demonstrate that our campaign is growing. Winning the White House will require that we become a movement. We have set a goal of 200,000 total donors by the June debates, which would be more than 3 times the level that the DNC required. We will have to raise much more than $1.7 million over the next 3 months. Much of the money we raise we are immediately re-investing in growing our support online. The early returns are very promising.
  3. Legitimacy. Being the ‘Internet candidate’ is a great starting point, but it will not be enough to win. The danger is that our campaign is marginalized as being interesting but non-serious. We must become serious. The more popular support we get, the harder it will be to sideline us. The more we win the war of ideas, the more legitimate we will become.

Our recent media appearances and events in San Francisco and Chicago are a sign of our new approach. We are embarking on a National Humanity First Tour and will hold big rallies in markets around the country. This will amplify our campaign at every level — it should increase our polling, momentum, and legitimacy. We will be in Boston TOMORROW and Washington, DC, on MONDAY, right after my CNN Town Hall. Please do come on out and tell friends to join in and spread the word. Our rallies have been a lot of fun and we expect that will continue.

We will also be investing our time in gaining mainstream coverage in the media. Journalists are catching on, and so are voters. We have noticed other candidates either echoing our talking points or being interrogated about them. Our campaign offers the most thought-out and comprehensive solutions to the true problems of the 21st century.

We will continue to campaign heavily in the early voting states. I am making my first trips to Nevada and South Carolina shortly and will be back in Iowa and New Hampshire this month. We just hired an additional full-time staff member in Iowa and our first staff members in New Hampshire; we are building our organization accordingly. I personally enjoy meeting voters in the early states — most are very serious and passionate about their role in choosing the next President.

Every day is now precious around the campaign. You have put us in position to change the course of history and we will take full advantage. Here’s how you can help us get Phase Two off on the right foot:

  1. Donate. Every donation helps, particularly if you get someone new. We will make the most of your donation — this is truly a situation where 1+ 1 can equal 3.
  2. Attend a Rally. Come on out and tell friends who are in the area to do the same! They are a lot of fun. The next one is on Wednesday night in Boston. We expect many MATH hats.
  3. Watch the Town Hall. The CNN Town Hall on Sunday, April 14th, at 8pm will be my introduction to many Americans. Host a party, and tell your friends to turn on the TV an hour before Game of Thrones.

We have done a remarkable job getting a seat at the debate. I was always confident we would reach this point. But now I see the path ahead and know that we can win the whole thing. Now the hard part begins.

Let’s show that we up for the challenge.

Your fired up candidate,

Yes, it’s a long email but you get the idea. The point is the email was written by a human being for human beings. Kind of like Obama’s DNC “United States of America” Keynote Address or “Yes We Can” Concession Speech. Neither ended on a donation ask yet both created millions of donors.

But here is a shorter one:

Hi DC Friends,

Andrew is coming back to Washington DC! Join him at the Lincoln Memorial for a rally on April 15th at 6pm. RSVP here and check it out on Facebook.

Can’t wait to see you all there!


Team Yang

What makes this one so special? It share the link to a facebook event!

Almost every campaign forgets to cross-post their facebook events into their email list and misses the opportunity to notify the numerous supporters on facebook that they can join and share the event with their friends.

Hence, you often see campaign facebook events with a fraction of their facebook fans responding to an upcoming event and also missing the opportunity to easily share them.

Now let’s take a look at a random email i just got from Julian Castro:

I just got off the stage from my anti-Trump rally here in San Antonio.

And I’m simply stunned, Jim. During Trump’s visit to my home city, you showed up for me big time — I completely surpassed my original goal!

I now only need 2 more gifts from 22203 before midnight to reach my new goal of 7,500 donations towards securing my spot in the Democratic debates! >>

I can’t thank you enough for tonight, Jim — but I’ll try:

Thank you for standing strong. Thank you for making me proud.

And most of all, thank you for showing Trump that his cruelty is profoundly unwelcome — both here in San Antonio, and across our nation.

Will you chip in $13 before midnight and help me send Trump one final message on his way out of San Antonio?

Chip in $13 now >>
Chip in $22 now >>
Chip in $37 now >>
Chip in $50 now >>
Chip in another amount now >>

My take on this email is that if you mention a rally and provide no pictures or video then it didn’t make a sound in your list of supporters. But apparently we beat our donation goald and have a new deadline to get to 7, 500 donations. Apparently he only needs 2 donations in the 22203 zip code? Whatever that means.

I am sure this email tested well but it probably is very efficient at building no momentum for the campaign.

Social & Media Strategist Jim McBride promoting forward-minded messaging & community-building as founder of the post-Obama grassroots group Network For Progress