Thursday, February 23, 2012

Is Lib Dem HQ doing secret experiments on party members?

Bear with me. I know the headline comes out in green ink, but this is seriously not as irrational a question as it might sound.

I base my theory on a conversation with a friend of mine who was complaining bitterly about the over-long subject line on Tim Farron's e-mail yesterday. You know, the one about the tax cuts Nick Clegg wants for the lowest earners. (BTW, if you haven't signed the petition on this, please do so here).

"Over long subject line?" I said, "Are you having a laugh?" Because, you see, mine said "Sneak Preview." I discovered that hers had said "An extra £60 in your wages each month - preview our Party Political Broadcast". You kind of run out of breath before you get to the end of that.

Why would they do that unless it was some weird experiment as to how many people opened and clicked through on each different subject line? I'd be willing to bet my secret stash of chocolate and my new Paul McCartney album that it would be the short and snappy line that was more effective.

It would be rudimentary if they weren't keeping tabs on which style of e-mail worked. Mark Pack and I had a small difference of opinion on Simon Hughes' e-mail last week.  This week's from Tim rightly attracted a whole load of praise from Mark - and his seems to have had a third variation, "Sneak Peak". I wonder if he and I were just being geeky and obsessing too much, though, because the increases in signatures for the petition each week were pretty much identical.

I think we would all agree that there has been a huge improvement in the information sent to members since the dire early days of the Coalition. Helen Duffett has worked wonders in the year she's been Internal Communications Manager. I am fairly certain that nobody who works for a political party thinks they'll ever  reach the summit. Things are constantly changing and we are always having to think of new ways to up our game.

For me, the thing I want to see most is more effective rebuttal. I'm sick of untruths about the Coalition's actions becoming established truth because we haven't quickly enough got our side of the story out there. We've taken lots of hits on welfare reform and not all of them are deserved, for example. We need to give our members more effective material to use on the doorstep. It helps in confidence if you feel that you have something positive to say. They'll get there, I'm sure, but I just wish it was a bit quicker.

It all makes you wonder, though, what other experiments are HQ running on us?


priggy said...

Mine, had the overly long subject line. Thankfully, I use a mail app so I don't pay attention or really use subject lines to decide to open or not. I just hit the down arrow on my keyboard and I see the email. Doesn't mean I read it though.

I only glanced at Hughes' or Davey's email. I did read Farron's though.

I think I'm more likely to read it if it comes from Tim or Nick or Scot LibDems/Willie Rennie. Not sure why.

This is probably a behavioural economics experiment with regard email communication.

Unknown said...

That's interesting!

I adore Simon so I always read his with enthusiasm.

Ace you signed te tax petition by the way?

Mark Pack said...

Certainly not obsessing too much :)

In my experience, if you take an email and then either do bad things to it (poor subject line, bad time of sending etc.) and compare that to doing those things well, you can halve/double the readership.

In other words, these sorts of apparently details can make a huge different to the impact of the email.

Unknown said...

Mark, the only reason I said that was cos of similar signature rates from Simon's & Tim's e-mails. Both were sent out at similar times & were slightly different in format. I'd love to compare the read rates with those from 2010.


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