I’m on a lot of email lists. A lot. I go through every month or so and unsubscribe from as many as I can, but they proliferate. Some of them are sales emails that come from e-commerce sites I may have visited (or may not… really, some of the email I get is weirdly off-target in these days of targeted communications software). Others come from my preferred candidates–okay, fine, I probably want to hear from them. But the lists that come from organizations supporting policies shared by my preferred candidates? Not so much. And the tenor of the subject lines and preview copy? Shrill, shrill, apocalyptically shrill. I hate it.
I particularly loathe those emails that use my name. It’s like the sales calls I sometimes get at work where every single sentence includes my name: someone must have done a study that says that using the mark’s name is more effective. “Madeleine, thank you so much for taking my call. I work for X, and I’m calling today, Madeleine, to tell you about how to improve your Y using our system. Madeleine, we can improve…”
But the political ones are worse, because they use all the uglier tactics of clickbait:
“What’s that? Madeleine SUPPORTS Donald Trump Eating Babies?”
I don’t support anyone eating babies, or Donald Trump doing much of anything other than going back to his NYC penthouse until he can be fitted for a prison jumpsuit. The people who craft these emails are relying on me to click through and defend my honor by taking a two-question “poll” and then validating my honor by sending money.
I guess it works with some people, because I get a lot of them. And after the first one or two, I deleted them with extreme prejudice. But it gets wearing after a while. If these emails came from the opposition, I’d suspect that was the point: wear people out to the point where they just stop caring and stop supporting anyone. But these are emails coming from organizations that want my support, want my engagement, want my money (maybe the money more than the first two, but let’s just assume, for the moment, that they are made of truth). And they are shooting themselves in the foot.
The subject lines of many political emails I get fall into one of three categories: 1) Outrage Porn (Eating Babies etc.); 2) We’re All Gonna Die (“Madeleine, I’m BEGGING you!”), and 3) and A Promise of Schadenfreude (“McConnell’s WORST NIGHTMARE…”). I don’t open them.
I am, among other things, the person who manages my company’s email program. For our industry an “open rate” of 22% is good. One website cites a figure on average open rate across 28 industries of 32%. So I have to figure that somewhere, policy wonks are crafting these emails to achieve an open rate of 30-35%.
Tired of emails that shout your name, prey on your worst fears, or tempt you to dance on the graves of your enemies? Don’t open.