UK Elections 2017: Best & Worst Awards + A Prediction

Posted by Guy Hanson on

This is one of the strangest elections we’ve experienced in recent times, taking place against a backdrop of three recent terrorist outrages. At a time when we have witnessed outstanding courage, heard countless stories that restore faith in human nature, and seen a collective will on the part of the British public to pull together and defy the scum who committed these atrocities against our country–well, politics is currently a diminished priority. Right now there is a real distaste for the negativity and bickering that typify election campaigns, and I’m fairly sure most British people just want this election finished right now.

So, I’m doing something a little different with this blog post. There are some great examples of email best practices to showcase (and a few worst ones too!) but I’m saving those for a slightly later date. Right now, I think we could all do with a spot of cheering up, so I’ve prepared a selection of political emails that have made us smile over the past few weeks, and I present them to you as a set of (slightly) tongue-in-cheek awards!

“Loneliest Politician” Award
Winner: Caroline Lucas (Greens) – “OK, I admit it. I’m lonely”

An intriguing subject line can be a great engagement driver, and this one looked straight out of a lonely hearts column, referencing that Caroline Lucas is currently the Green’s only MP. Subscribers were clearly sympathetic, and the read rate of 35 percent was 20 percent higher than their election campaigns benchmark.

“Not Me Guv!” Award
Winner: Tim Farron (Lib Dems) – “A brighter future for Britain”

In part 2 we saw how political emails are more effective when they use the party leader’s’ names as the “friendly from.” However, the Lib Dem’s Tim Farron clearly didn’t want to be associated with the apology email that was sent when the link to their freshly published manifesto didn’t work properly the first time around!

He may have missed an opportunity to drive some positive engagement. Apology emails are well-known for out-performing the original, perhaps because of the “rubber-necking” factor (“Oooh—what happened?), and this was no exception. While the original email generated a fairly pedestrian 20 percent read rate, the apology delivered a rather more sparkling 28 percent!

“Biggest Loudmouth” Award
Boris Johnson (Conservatives) – “Go on”

This email gave no consideration to mobile readers, and how pre-header text can be effectively leveraged as a second subject line. Instead, Boris jumps straight in starts SHOUTING at us as he attempts to drive greater turnout. Subscribers responded with indifference, and the read rate of only 19 percent was well below the Conservatives’ election benchmark of 26 percent.

“Most Picturesque” Award
Winner: Tim Farron (Lib Dems) – “Go on”

Subject line emojis continue to fascinate, as Return Path’s recent report has highlighted. The Lib Dems are the only party to enthusiastically embrace this approach, and it’s worked well for them–the TV screen promoting the BBC debate was the biggest winner, achieving a read rate of 51 percent, well above their election benchmark of 31 percent.

“Less is More” Award
Winner: Jeremy Corbyn (Labour) – “Woah”

In this series, we identified that voters prefer shorter, positive messages–preferably directly from the party leaders. This email, celebrating Labour’s fundraising success, was a top performer with read rates of 44 percent compared with their election benchmark of 25 percent.

“Epic Fail” Award
Winner: Paul Oakden (UKIP) – “Is there a Brexit without UKIP?”

This campaign may have misread the current national mood – there is real distaste right now for negative politics. It’s also possible many previous UKIP supporters are now transferring allegiance. Whatever the reason, this email (the only one we saw from UKIP) generated read rates of only 13 percent, Complaint rates of 25 percent (no missing decimal point!) and as a result, 56 percent ended up in recipients’ junk folders.

Prediction
With the awards out the way, it just remains to put my head on the block and use our email intelligence to predict how the British public will vote. The latest poll of polls from the BBC shows the Conservative’s lead over Labour has shrunk to around four percentage points. The peculiarities of UK’s “first past the post” voting system mean this would deliver a hung parliament where no party has overall control.

Our email intelligence tells an even more pronounced story:

During the past week, subscriber engagement with Labour’s email program has overtaken the Conservatives and is now running at 4 percent higher. Labour appears the primary beneficiary of a late collapse in support for the smaller parties as voters align behind the 2 traditional heavyweights.

We can’t view this data in a vacuum—the better funded Conservatives have been spending heavily on social media, an area where both Labour and the Lib Dems are less able to compete.

We also know Conservative supporters are less likely to provide advance notice of voting intentions. According to research website fivethirtyeight.com there is historically a 4.5 percent error rate in the UK between poll predictions for the Conservatives and the actual outcome.

So, I’m putting my faith in the longer-term data which I believe provides a stronger indication of voter intention, but adjusted for late evaporation of support from the smaller parties. I’m predicting a narrow win for the Conservatives (42 percent to 40 percent—with a three percent confidence interval in either direction) leaving them as the largest party, but without a parliamentary majority.

You heard it here first!


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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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