Trump and Biden Double Down on Email Fundraising Strategies

The campaigns are over, but the candidates still need donors for a new fight

Biden and Trump emails now call on people to contribute for impending legal battles related to vote recounts. iStock
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Before Election Day, President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaigns had predictable strategies for reaching folks via email.

Trump’s team leaned into persistence and forcefulness with its messaging and calls for donations, regularly sending subscribers as many as 10 to 25 emails per day. Biden’s team opted for messaging that highlighted policies and stressed beating Trump, while still nudging supporters to chip in.

As the American people continue to wait for election results, both campaigns have pivoted their email marketing strategies, asking people to donate in anticipation of long legal battles and vote recounts.

Trump’s emails have maintained their frequency, with subject lines such as “They will try to steal the Election” and asking for contributions to “defend the integrity of Election and to increase your impact by 1000%.” Biden’s campaign has pivoted to ask for donations to the Biden Fight Fund, a joint fundraising committee authorized by Biden for President and the Democratic National Committee that aims to ensure every vote is counted.

Will this second wave of fundraising-focused emails be an effective strategy for either campaign to reach donors in their inboxes?

Jane Hughes, director at liberal advertising and communications agency Bully Pulpit Interactive, said both campaigns have maintained consistency with their pre-Election Day messaging.

“You’ve seen the Trump campaign take a childish approach to their email fundraising. There’s a lot of name-calling, fairly misleading messaging and shaming people for not having donated,” Hughes said. “Conversely, what we’re seeing from the Biden campaign feels more honest and authentic. It’s very facts-driven, updating people on the state of the race and why they need the funds for the battles ahead.”

Despite the differences in approach, Hughes said both strategies remain effective in reaching supporters.

“More people have voted in this election than any in this country’s history. You certainly cannot discount that enthusiasm,” Hughes said. “Yes, the emails are a lot, but I also think people understand the gravity of what this election means. For that reason, I think they’re staying engaged.”

Drew Train, president and co-founder of marketing agency Oberland, echoed this sentiment, noting that the pivot will “resonate for both sides.”

“People were extremely dedicated to their vote and are willing to give more money to fight to defend it and make it count,” Train said. “For people who didn’t vote, political advertisers are happy to guilt people into still having an impact by giving a chance to fight the result or fight for the result.”

Lindsay Jacobs Seti, executive director at fundraising solution platform Majority Money, said both campaign strategies derive from the idea of the “neverending campaign cycle” that began after the 2016 U.S. presidential election, which saw political campaigns move away from the concept of only raising money in an election year to a continuous online push.

“The campaign strategies are in line with exactly what we look for in successful digital fundraising,” Seti said. “You’ve got a sense of urgency, a very captive audience, and a sense of relevancy with the subject matter that is happening in real time. The campaigns are using that to their advantage to say: ‘This is going to be a long fight, we’ve got a long road ahead. and we need you to stand with us now.’”

Jeff Vreeland, a GOP ad strategist and senior director of business operations at The Prosper Group, said email burnout can be a problem at the end of an election. However, he said both campaigns are probably seeing high ROIs from their email fundraising strategy, which is why neither side has let up.


ian.zelaya@adweek.com Ian Zelaya is an Adweek reporter covering how brands engage with consumers in the modern world, ranging from experiential marketing and social media to email marketing and customer experience.
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