Anyone who knows me personally, knows how I feel about Donald Trump.
If you're friends with me on Facebook, you know I sometimes post to vent my disgust. (Note: I only accept FB friend requests from people I know in real life).
It's tough for me not to get into an apoplectic fury on various Trump issues. In fact, it's a good thing I'm doing intermittent fasting and haven't had breakfast yet...or else my stomach would be churning as I type this.
But I'm open-minded enough to know--and want to share--when there's something valuable to learn. And I won't hold it against you if your political beliefs differ from mine.
So to be clear, this isn't a political email. It's a marketing lesson. One you can apply to your emails, sales pages, and other copy...no matter what your views.
Grab your Dramamine® and let's get started, shall we?
What's in Kim's Mailbox
Several months ago (pre-pandemic), one of my clients with whom I have several online sales page controls asked if I could come up with some new traffic driver emails.
These promos are for supplements, and many of these offers do quite well to more conservative email lists. So my client suggested testing some subject lines that incorporated "Trump" as he was finding higher open rates with emails doing this.
It's not at all surprising that financial newsletter promos that mention Trump consistently perform better. But I remember being a bit surprised that it worked well with health and supplements. After all, Trump's a very polarizing dude (to put it mildly). And many alternative health lists skew more liberal as well as conservative.
As it turned out, I came up with some "Trump-less" subject lines and emails that outperformed the ones where I did include a Trump mention (whew!)
But it's worth noting that, depending on your email list, you may attract more eyeballs with some strategic Trump name-dropping. In fact, I'm testing that hypothesis now with my subject line. It's actually one of the laziest email subject lines I've ever written. We'll see how the open rate compares!
For the past several months (during the COVID-19 pandemic), what's been working well with emails driving traffic to my online supplement controls is any mention of lung or immune health. They both trump "Trump" hands down.
But there are some far more evergreen copy and marketing lessons you can glean here. In fact, what inspired this edition of "What's in Kim's Mailbox" wasn't any wayward Trump email that landed in my inbox (do you really think that would happen? I'm the last person in the world to be on a Trump donor prospect list. Lol)
It was an editorial I read this morning in the so-called "liberal, Jeff Bezos/Amazon-controlled" Washington Post while sipping my black coffee with MCT oil in it.
The opinion piece, written by a political cartoonist, poked fun at the various emails he'd recently received from the Trump campaign. But I found the excerpts he mocked to be brilliant examples of copy and marketing.
So let's take a look at some of these examples and tactics you can borrow from...
1) Feeling exclusive and special
The emails sent out from Trump's campaign focus on making the recipient feel special and "chosen". There's copy and subject lines like "You have been selected." "You've been chosen." "You've been hand-selected." "My father needs your help." "This is ONLY for my TOP supporters." "I knew you wouldn't let me down."
There's also the use of personalization to make it really seem personal, embedded throughout the email copy. For example, “This offer is ONLY for you, Jeff, so please DO NOT share this.” (The brilliant and apolitical Laura Belgray, whose emails I do get and love reading, uses this tactic very effectively).
By using exclusivity and personalization, email messages are more likely to get open, read, and more importantly, acted on since they feel like they're "just for me".
2) "We're in this together"/common enemy
Many a long-form copywriter has made strategic use of a common enemy to sell financial and alternative health newsletters, as well as other products. This tactic is also highly effective in email, as seen in Trump's campaign emails.
In the example cited in the opinion piece, the Trump 2020 campaign used this dark message, combined with first name personalization: “We all know that the DEEP STATE is out to get President Trump...They hate America, and they hate true Patriots like Jeff!”
This "us vs. them" feeling conveys that you're in some kind of fight or have a common cause. It's not just applicable to political or fundraising campaigns. You can use it against Wall Street "fat cats", "Big Pharma", and other evil villains.
3) Using urgency (even if "fake" or manufactured)
Nothing works better in offers than a deadline, scarcity, or some other way to build urgency. It gives the prospect a reason to DO THIS NOW, which is crucial because the more time that passes, the less likely it is for the prospect to act (and the more likely your call to action gets forgotten completely).
The Trump team incorporates manufactured (dare I say "fake") urgency into their email appeals. Here's an example cited in the opinion piece written by "Jeff"...
The email says if he contributes any amount, “you’ll automatically reach VIP status and become a member of the Trump VIP Club.” But, no dawdling. “This exclusive offer expires in ONE HOUR, Jeff. After that, you will permanently forfeit your potential status as a Trump VIP.”
This email (the sender name is Eric Trump) goes on to add in some fake "accountability": "I’ll be meeting with my father first thing tomorrow morning to review the updated list of Trump VIP Club members, and I want him to see Jeff from New York on there.” Better jump to it, Jeff! Don't want to let "The Donald" down.
4) Multiple related senders
Last year my friend and top email strategist Chris Orzechowski, whose list I'm also on (I'm on a lot of lists, just not Trump's), did a breakdown on Bright Cellar Wines, an online wine seller whose list he'd landed on.
Every day for at least six months, he received a daily email offer as a follow-up, often from a different sender who "worked" at the company, persistently trying to get him to order.
I decided to sign up for the list out out of curiosity, and sure enough I'm still getting regular emails many months later from a variety of senders like "Izzy N." and "Isabelle N." (are they related?) touting bonus bottles or "3 on the house". They take advice from Winston Churchill. They never never NEVER give up!
Apparently, the Trump team is using a similar strategy with their email senders. Prospective donors get appeals from family members like Trump's son Eric or his daughter-in-law Lara, the Trump Finance team, or "the Donald" himself.
The article I read provided this example from an email coming from Eric Trump: "Jeff, Where have you been? Each day my father sees an updated donor list and EACH DAY he notices that you STILL haven't contributed." (Yikes...it almost sounds threatening!)
Here's a cutaway inbox peek I found in a CNN article online that shows the different emails sent recently by team Trump. You can see the array of senders used (Ivanka and Don, Jr., are curiously absent) as well as the different subject lines ...
Okay, that's about all the Trump email examples I can handle (and that I have for you). But I hope you gleaned some valuable lessons you can apply to the emails and other copy you write.
Yours for smarter marketing,