Beyond your party members, you should be asking for email addresses regularly - particularly from the people you hope will vote for your candidate on election day.
People who we have an email for and who we communicate with regularly are more likely to turn out and vote (and vote for us) than people we have an email for, but don’t communicate with regularly.
This is exactly the same principle behind doing regular Focus leaflets. All we’re doing is digitising that process.
How do you grow your email list?
You can ask for an email address any time you communicate with voters. You’ll need an appropriate Fair Processing notice - see below.
The best way that we have found to grow an email list is to use petitions. People sign a campaign and sign up to a mailing list because they are interested in what happens next, and email is a great way to keep them up to date - so long as you actually do it. Don’t just lump them in with your local news list, give them a separate tag and contact them frequently about the petition they signed. When a campaign has come to an end, either because you achieved what you wanted, or it is no longer a pressing issue locally, you can add these people to your wider mailing list as they may be interested in campaigns you are running.
You can find more information about how to set up a Lib Dem petition page on nationbuilder here:https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Zu-GKvQZRkb7yWGiZX0oeJWMCl4RGo4hiInVVGbDUDQ/edit
Asking for an email address so that the team can keep you informed of local issues is a great way to grow your list - keep these people in the “Local News” section, until they do something that indicates they’re a Lib Dem (like saying they’ll vote for us) and then consider adding them to the Lib Dem updates list as well.
In a leaflet
Getting an email address means you have more than one way of reaching a voter. You can set it up with a Freepost response if you have it - but it may be easier for all involved to simply point people at the signup page on your website (see below).
A survey is a great way to ask for an email address. People are more likely to give you data when they feel they’re getting something out of it, so phrase it along the lines of “keeping them up to date with your campaign!” Just make sure to follow through and keep them up to date on that campaign.
On social media
Don’t ask for email addresses directly over social media - this contravenes data protection policy. Instead, you can point people to the signup page on your website and collect emails there - which saves you having to input them yourself.
On your local party website
Your local party website is a powerful tool for email collection. Have a signup form for the sake of keeping people up to date on your main page, and then be sure to collect emails for online campaigns you are running.
Sign up forms
Having an email address can make it much easier to get in contact with volunteers, event attendees or the like. Make sure you tell them why you’re collecting their email address, and follow all data protection guidance (see below).
Opt-in & sign up forms
Whenever we ask for an email address, whether that's on the doorstep, on a petition, or on your local party website, we need to make sure that the individual gives clear consent to receiving emails for a specific purpose.
You must be clear with your signups about what emails they will get if they opt in to your email and you must respect people’s preferences. If you don’t, the individual has the right to complain to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) and there may be legal implications for the party.
For example, if someone signs up for a list that promises they’ll get local news and updates, and the first email they receive is a fundraising email, they’ll probably get annoyed pretty quickly. You should be building up a relationship based on good local news, then ask for a donation close to election time.
For online signups, you must always:
- Use the party’s Fair Processing Notice (FPN) – this is legally required and in addition to the regulator potentially taking action, failing to do so can also be grounds for the party to take disciplinary action.
- The FPN must be easy to read and located right next to where people are signing up – you can’t have a form at the top of the page and the FPN at the bottom with a lot of other content in-between, for example. This is particularly important to bear in mind for printed sheets where people write-in their names and emails.
- You can’t make opting in to receiving emails a condition of providing a service. See our Fair Processing Notices document for a summary of what this means, but in short – if we are providing something in return for money, e.g. tickets to an event, then there needs to be either a checkbox to opt in to sign up to emails or a yes/no question (which can be mandatory to answer one way or the other).
It is always a good idea to send an email promptly to someone whose address you’ve newly acquired.
This is particularly important where they’ve given us their email address via offline rather than online methods. Aim to do this within a week of receiving the email.
Thank you for backing our campaign
On behalf of our local party, [insert party], I would like to thank you for backing our campaign to protect our local bus service.
We are extremely concerned that the proposals will leave many residents stranded, and will lead to more cars in our town centre, more congestion, and more carbon emissions.
We will be raising these concerns at the next council meeting, and we hope to overturn this poor decision.
If you have any additional concerns you would like me to raise, you can contact me on: email address
We will occasionally contact you through this email address to let you know about similar local issues we are campaigning on. You can unsubscribe from these at any point.
Once again, thank you very much for your support.
Using this for emails received via paper is also particularly important as it’s relatively easy for someone to forget they wrote down their email, or for a typo or poor handwriting to result in the wrong email address being entered into our systems.
A good, prompt follow-up email irons out any problems like this and means you can continue to use email addresses without compliance complications.
Leave it much longer than a week for sending such an email and you’ll start to see a significant rise in the unsubscribe rate, and even complaints starting.
When it gets to a month, you should consider it too late to start using that email address.