Labour, Lib Dems, Tories – how do they stack up?

Last election in England, the three parties tried to use the lessons from the US in their communications. All of the parties revamped their websites, began an email communications campaign, and leveraged databases (to various effects) to get-out-the-vote. A year later, what has changed?

To be truthful, the reason for this post comes more from cleaning my Yahoo! account than a recent article in the NYTimes (“Politics Faces Sweeping Change via the Web“). As I went to clean out the thousands of emails, I took a glance at my emails from the three parties. And what I found is summed up as this: nothing has changed from a year ago. Well, almost nothing.

Labour – Learning the lesson of brevity and humour
In going through the emails, LibDems still feel that the eNews they send out is a press release channel – that every person on the list is interested in reading the nuances of the party. While this could be interesting (like an Inside Baseball list), it unfortunately reads as a news stream more fit for the AP wire than engaging individuals on a personal level. The frequency of the emails (almost once a day) have caused me to automatically filter them out (they become irrelevant after a while) and I barely read them. Additionally, they are in text format – which reduces the branding opportunities – or chances for multimedia impact that broadband profers.

The Tories have taken this lesson to heart – and have created a newsletter format – lots of information sent in three to five day intervals. They use branding and imagery, but again – the focus of the email is still a PR effort – designed not to engage me, but as a smaller, dedicated newsletter for the faithful to read. While this technique seems good (especially in the non-profit sector where you want donors to know what you are doing), the broadsheets are already discussing the topics at hand – and the newsletter format should be more “red meat” and infomation/talking points than simply regurgitating the news of the day/week. And, from a usability point of view, there are far too many links, buttons, small print and other structurally painful parts to the newsletter which looks more like a Frankenstein monster than an engaging letter.

Labour – now, they have learned some lessons well. If they are not still getting guidance from Zack, then they have learned their lessons well. They are doing a number of good things, and doing them well – the emails comes from various people (rather than an email robot), the emails are short, pithy and to the point, they are engaging in terms of humour, relevance and actionable (e.g. get involved by doing XXXX). In addition, the frequency of the emails are not particularly predictable, they tend to be relevant to the issue at hand: which makes the list fresh and engaging, not steadily becoming irrelevant as the LibDems list is becoming.

A factor to note: the growth of a list comes from issues at hand – in the primary case, when an election is coming. Secondly, it grows because of actions that people wish to align with. Lists decay from neglect or over-stimulation (think of watering plants) or even when the content is inane or irrelevant (think of watering plants with milk or hot sauce). Careful care and feeding of the list is the way to grow it for future volunteers and funds in the elections ahead.

Tags: English eCampaigning eCampaigning Labour Party LibDems Conservatives

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