Anyone who signed up for emails from the Obama campaign during the 2012 election received some interesting pieces of correspondence in their inboxes. Emails arrived with overly friendly or downright creepy subject lines — such as “Two simple words,” “The last time I’ll ask you this,” and “Can you take a trip to Virginia for the weekend?”
But according to details released from the Obama campaign, the emails really worked, thanks to rigorous testing and analysis, Bloomberg Businessweek reports.
Emails from the Obama campaign were tested on small groups of supporters before being sent out, Bloomberg found. The subject lines, the messages, the formatting, the dollar amounts asked for — everything was submitted to the testing process. The casual tone that would be a staple in Obama campaign emails was quickly found to be effective. It was also discovered that light swearing could bring in donations — though it had a shelf life, Bloomberg reports.
The emails caught plenty of flak during the campaign. Comedian Jon Stewart mocked Obama’s “cool” subject lines and constant demands for money. “And the ones from Barack Obama have the subject line ‘Hey,'” Stewart said. “This is wrong. You don’t need to address anyone as ‘Hey’ to be cool. You’re the president. That’s pretty f***ing cool.” The women’s website The Hairpin compiled a list of email subject lines that made the Obama campaign sound like a stalker. And on the PJMedia list of 20 creepiest campaign emails, Obama and friends took 11 of the spots.
Mocking aside, however, the Obama campaign cashed in on email fundraising. Of the $690 million the Obama campaign raised online, most of it came from campaign emails, according to Bloomberg. One of the biggest fundraisers was an email with the subject line “Hey,” Toby Fallsgraff, the campaign’s e-mail director, told Bloomberg. Another money-maker was “I will be outspent,” raising more than $2.6 million.
The odd success of these weird email subject lines might mean they’re here to stay, as future campaigns will look back and take cues from the 2012 election. Even though the Obama campaign has said “goodbye” — for good — it won’t be long before 2016 campaign emails are saying “hello” again.