Email & Brexit: Engagement Points to Remain!

Posted by Guy Hanson on

The United Kingdom’s tortuous negotiations to leave the European Union are now reaching its endgame, and Prime Minister Theresa May just about has a deal to offer to parliament. However, there are real doubts whether she will obtain the required majority of MPs to approve it. Many leave supporting MPs feel the deal doesn’t come close to honoring the original promises they campaigned for. Many remain supporting MPs feel the deal is watered down to the point that it’s “Brexit in name only” so why leave at all?

There are increasing doubts about whether the UK government still has a mandate from its electorate to proceed with Brexit at all. There is strong evidence that Britain’s viewpoint on Brexit has shifted since Jun 2016. Then the country voted 51.9 percent to 48.1 percent (a margin of 3.8 percent) to leave the European Union. However, six opinion polls this month (November) asking the question “If there was another referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU, how would you vote?” have returned an average margin of 5.4 percent in favor of Remain. If repeated at the ballot box, this would represent a swing of 9.2 percent.

There are several possible explanations for this. After two years of national discussion, voters now have a much better understanding of the implications (mostly negative) of leaving. And two years of elderly voters (two to one in favor of Leave) have been replaced by two years of young voters (two to one in favor of remain). So is there a real possibility the government is proceeding towards an outcome that the majority of the people it represents no longer want?

What does EmailDNA have to say about this?

Firstly, let’s look at the performance of the main political parties’ email programs. The implementation of the new General Data Protection Regulations at the end of May provided a breakpoint in terms of comparing engagement from the first and second halves of 2018. However, we first need to consider the impact of GDPR itself, because stronger consent and greater transparency mean there has been an overall uplift in performance.

We can see that across the board, there has been a strong improvement in political program performance metrics since GDPR. On average, read rates have increased by almost 1/3, Filtering rates have reduced by 1/3, and complaint rates have reduced by slightly over half. However, there are big variances across the individual parties.

While the Conservatives have achieved a small read rate uplift, it is much less than the benchmark. At the same time, their complaint rates have shown a slight increase, while filtering rates have almost doubled.

By contrast, Labour’s read rates have exceeded the benchmark, while complaint rates have reduced to ¼ of previous levels, and filtering rates have dropped by half. There has been a big swing in positive engagement toward Labour as the year has progressed, with Lib Dems also benefitting to a smaller extent.

We ran a similar exercise looking at the email programs of the major newspapers, categorized by their editorial stance towards Brexit – “Leave” (e.g. Daily Mail), “Remain” (e.g. Guardian), or “Neutral” (e.g. The Times). For the same reason as the political parties, there has been a general GDPR-related uplift. However, when we break out these results by editorial stance, big variances are again visible:

Newspapers with a “Remain” stance have increased average read rates from 22 percent to 30 percent – an increase of 8 percent. Newspapers with a “Leave” stance have also increased their average read rate, but only from 15 percent to 20 percent – an increase of 5 percent. Also note they are starting from very different bases, with Leave supporting readerships less engaged to start with.

Remain supporting newspaper email programs also perform better in terms of lower deleted before reading rates (15 percent vs 13 percent), lower filtering rates (6 percent vs 15 percent) and higher this is not spam rates (0.4 percent vs 0.1 percent). These data points all provide pointers toward greater positive engagement with these programs.

Finally, we had a look at People’s Vote. This is a UK organization campaigning for a public vote on the final Brexit deal, and their email program has grown to hundreds of thousands of members—from a standing start—in less than 6 months. It is a highly engaged program, averaging a phenomenal 96 percent inbox placement rate (7 percent above the UK benchmark, and 11 percent above the global benchmark).

We are email analysts, not politicians. That said we’ve used our EmailDNA pedigree before to gauge the political temperature, and at times we have been remarkably close! Right now, the suggestion is the UK’s political headwinds are starting to blow in a different direction, and could provide some early direction on how the UK’s future relationship with Europe ends up!


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About Guy Hanson

Guy is a passionate advocate for intelligent use of customer data to drive responsive email programs. With a knowledge base that now spans nearly 15 years, he is a global e-mail expert and thought leader. Leading Return Path’s International Professional Services consulting team, Guy has worked with a broad range of clients across 5 continents to improve their email delivery, subscriber engagement and revenue generated. Outside of work, Guy is the Chairman of the DMA Email Council. In this role, he works with industry peers including brands, agencies, and service providers to promote the best interests of the email industry to a broader audience. He is also a regular contributor to the industry press.

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