There should always be a reason for sending an email. It might be tempting to email people more regularly than you need to, but people will quickly get sick of your emails if they don’t have a purpose.
There are three main types of email that you will be sending:
- Information about upcoming events, activities or opportunities
- Persuading people to take an action (e.g. donate, sign up for a postal vote)
- Reporting back - the email equivalent of the focus leaflet that keeps activists and voters informed of what you’ve been doing
Before you start drafting your email, be clear about what type of email it is and what you want it to achieve.
Type 1: Invitation
These emails should be very short. Have one sentence describing the upcoming event/activity/opportunity, include when/where/any other important details, and end with a cheery sign off.
We’re having a data entry night next week with some free pizza.
When: Date and Time
Where: MDO’s house, full address
Data entry is where we take lists of information from the council of who voted in previous elections, and add them to our system to make our future campaigning activities more streamlined.
It’s a great chance to do some campaigning in the warm and dry, and we always have a good laugh.
Let us know you can make it by replying to this email or RSVPing here: [Link to the event on your website]
Type 2: Persuasive
For emails where you’re trying to persuade people to donate, volunteer or sign a petition, you will need to give the reader a compelling reason to take an action.
This framework works well for painting a picture of a problem and offering a solution:
Problem - Identify a problem facing them / someone else.
Solution - Identify a solution to that problem
Resolution - Show them how they can be part of the solution
After the past few years, it couldn’t be clearer [name]: the system is broken. It’s up to us to fix it.
Our electoral system is not fit for purpose. In December 2019 the Conservatives swept to power with barely a 1% increase in vote share, and 22.6 million votes went to waste. It’s a disgrace.
First Past The Post has allowed the Conservatives and Labour to maintain their grip on power for too long. It allows Parliament to ignore parties who are fighting for change and representing different points of view. It cheats voters of real representation in our politics.
Yesterday, I held a debate on this issue in the House of Commons. The Government couldn’t have been more dismissive. The Conservatives don’t care about your vote or your say. They only care about keeping themselves in power.
Enough is enough. The Liberal Democrats exist to create a fairer society. That has to include a fairer voting system.
Britain’s voting system is just the tip of the iceberg. We’ve got a plan to make our politics better for everyone:
You can help make this happen [name]. If, like us, you want better for our society and our politics, join our growing movement today:
The Liberal Democrats will always fight for what’s right. Join us today to help make fairer voting a reality.
Type 3: Reporting back
This functions as the email equivalent of a focus leaflet. Include a few stories, and keep them short to work in an email format - you can link to longer new stories on your website if necessary. Keep the party content light (but always make sure it’s there) and focus on local issues.
A good format to follow is highlighting:
- A local win, like a successful community event or a campaign win
- An ongoing local campaign issue
- A local effort, showing that you campaigners are embedded in the local community
This email should come from your local MP/Parliamentary candidate/Councillor/Council candidate, or any public facing local Lib Dem.
We hope you are keeping well. Here is the news from your Local Lib Dem Team.
Success at the beach
Thank you to all the Local Area volunteers who took part in the beach clean last week. We collected 30 bags of rubbish from South Beach, that’s 30 bags of plastic bags, cigarette butts and old bottles that won’t end up in the sea, making the beach nicer for all of us.
All your local councillors join our beach cleans, so do feel free to come along to the next one and say hi!
Don’t scrap the 42 bus
The local council announced it was planning to stop running the 42 bus as part of a raft of cost saving proposals, leaving many people in the Local Area without a bus route into town. If you’re concerned, we are collecting names of residents who are against this proposal to challenge the council, reply to this email to add your name, or add your name online here [add link]
If you have any old toys of children’s books that you are no longer using, Victoria Hospital is looking for donations. You can find out more about the donation drive here [add link] and if you can’t get drop off your donations yourself, reply to this email and we’ll do our best to arrange a pick up for you.
With best wishes,
Now you’ve got your format, you’re ready to start writing!
Keep it short and clear
Many people check their email first thing in the morning or last thing at night, or when multitasking while watching TV or making dinner. They may not be awake or present enough to engage with long, complicated prose.
200 to 300 words is more than enough for any email, persuasive or otherwise.
You should also use clear language in your email.
This is in part for accessibility. Simple language is easier to understand and easier to read. It is also more effective at driving people to take an action.
You can check if you are using accessible language with this tool: http://www.hemingwayapp.com/
It helps check the complexity of your writing and highlights convoluted sentences, allowing you to write clearly and concisely.
First impressions matter.
Your email can be perfect, but without an engaging subject line it may never be opened.
You should always write 3-5 subject lines and get a second opinion on the best one. To think of some good subject line options, try the following strategies:
- Read through your email for a pithy phrase that sums up the email
- Ask an open-ended question, eg “Who do you want to be our next PPC?”
- Add a deadline, eg “RSVP tonight for a free drink with your meal!”
- Try a teaser, eg “Guess who’s coming to join our action this weekend?”
- Be direct eg “Pick up an orphan delivery round this month → ”
- Try a list eg “Four things you can do right now to help us in the by-election”
- Make an announcement eg “The winner of the raffle is…”
And if all that fails, take the main theme of the email and try a subject line generator: https://www.activecampaign.com/free-marketing-tools/subject-line-generator
Aim for subject lines that are short, intriguing, but do not come across as spam.
Remember, you want to make sure that people open your email, but you don’t want to trick them. If folk feel tricked then they’re more likely to unsubscribe, so your email must deliver on what your subject line promises.
Using a small number of “from names” in your emails will help build the name recognition and reputations with recipients over time - just like delivering a focus every few months does.
Therefore, it is best practice to be proactive in identifying the people you want to have as your regular email senders.
Think about a few people in the party that it is beneficial to have regular emails go out from. Perhaps your prospective parliamentary candidate, to build up their name recognition, and some key members or activists who sit on your local party executive, or who lead campaigning for the local party.
Think about people that will be happy to field questions that might come about from an email. People who will be flexible about approving emails to go out in their name. People who will be easy-going about mistakes that happen in their name, as this will always happen!
And think about diversity. You should send just as many emails from women or non-binary members as you do from men, and you should regularly send emails from some people of colour.
Do not have a slate of only white, male sounding names as the only names that your recipients receive emails from.
For people who have not yet interacted with your local party, you will create an impression that there is only one type of person who joins and is involved in the local party, and it will be more difficult for your local party to attract a diverse group of people to get involved in the future.