As we all know, Scotland voted "No" to independence, but it was a hard-fought campaign and the Yes Scotland campaign turned what could have been a landslide into a very tight race that got Scotland many concessions. Following our pre-referendum post last week which compared Yes Scotland and Better Together email campaign data up until 9th September, we wanted to see what happened in the inbox in the critical last week leading up to polling day. We found that the Yes Scotland campaign's email send volumes grew larger still than emails from Better Together in the last week while open rates remained constant - meaning more subject lines read and more total opens for Yes Scotland emails. The Yes Scotland campaign's polling result crept upwards, continuing the upward trend that began in mid-July.
Media channels play a very important role in political campaigns and while hindsight tells us that the Yes Scotland campaigning was not enough to win the referendum, their media strategy had a clear impact and their high-volume email strategy contributed to this, resulting in a very close race in the last week of the campaign. It's worth bearing in mind that the send volume is the product of list-size and send-frequency - a major factor that helped the Yes campaign send so much more than the No side was their list size. In the last few days prior to the vote, the No campaign sent more campaigns than the Yes side in a 5 to 1 ratio but it doesn't show on our chart because their list size was such that it still didn't enable them to compete on volume.
Subject lines for a broadcast-style campaign
Using email as a media channel requires volume, but it's not just about hitting send. The broadcast effect of email takes place when the subject line has an impact on everyone on your list, whether they open or not. Like an Ad, the effect is subliminal. So the short and intriguing subject lines used by the Yes campaign which are great for driving opens, like "wow" and "fool me once" aren't great for broadcast email, whereas the No campaign's "A vote for NO is a vote for better, faster, safer change within the UK" is. Both the Yes and No campaigns relied largely on subject lines designed to get an open, each one at the expense of an opportunity to repeat their most persuasive one-liners to their whole subscriber list. Email is well known for its effectiveness as a direct-response channel but it also has very powerful email broadcast capabilities, making it highly effective at both ends of the funnel. At the moment most marketers are focusing on email's effect at the conversion stage, but there is a huge opportunity to drive the both the brand and response agendas a by exploiting both ends of the funnel.