Congressional Campaign Informs Supporters via E-Mail

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Win or lose in the Nov. 5 election, Martha Fuller Clark has accomplished one thing in her race for New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District seat vacancy: a small but growing e-mail list of key supporters.


Clark's team began collecting e-mail addresses this year and started e-mailing supporters in July using iBuilder, the permission-based e-mail marketing application from VerticalResponse.


"We're able to keep in contact with around 1,500 folks who we communicate with using VerticalResponse," said Ramsay McLauchlan, director of communications for the Clark for Congress campaign. "Each Thursday we send out a newsletter to our entire list. We also do some campaign solicitations and some other things that link them back to our Web site."


Clark, a Democrat, faces Republican Jeb Bradley and Libertarian Dan Belforti for the seat, one of a few dozen considered close enough to be up for grabs around the country this year, McLauchlan said. Clark trails by about 2 percentage points in polls, he said.


The 1,500 names are the campaign's core group of political leaders and activists who gave their e-mail addresses either at www.clarkforcongress.com or via a direct mail piece as well as a smaller group of contributors and volunteers that opted in to receive e-mail.


No prospecting was involved.


"Right now it's still hard to get broad enough e-mail addresses to do a whole lot of direct voter contact," McLauchlan said. "We chose not to rent e-mail lists this time because there really isn't a good way to reach that audience right now."


Since e-mail addresses are not collected on registered voters and compiling e-mail databases for political purposes is still fairly new, he said, sending targeted prospecting messages would be tough.


The 2000 presidential race was probably the first time that e-mail was used on any large scale, and now smaller races are getting involved, McLauchlan said.


He said he has encountered several problems when trying to e-mail campaign contributors, including incompatible e-mail formats, database management issues and lack of tracking ability. The VerticalResponse system addresses many of those problems, letting the campaign enter new e-mail addresses without fear of duplication since it has a deduping feature and offering a suppression feature so people who opted out don't get e-mail.


Aside from the newsletter and solicitations, Clark for Congress has sent e-mails to follow up direct mail campaigns and to remind supporters of a televised debate.


An e-mail sent Oct. 27 includes an endorsement of Clark by the Nashua Telegraph in that day's paper. The e-mail goes on to list her background and accomplishments. An e-mail sent a few days earlier makes a pitch for volunteers to help in the final days of the campaign. It also appeals for contributions, saying that "The Republican Party has spent more than $500,000 per week on attacks against Martha. ... If you haven't sent in a contribution yet, please take the time today to visit our Web site or call our office to make one. If you have already been generous, now is the time to dig as deep as you can."


Since using iBuilder, Clark for Congress has an average open rate of 40 percent to 50 percent and a click-through rate of 3 percent to 5 percent.


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