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Using email to get personal
Deborah Block and Paul Karps

September, 2010

In the pages of this newsletter, we always seem to be talking about the importance of making a direct marketing message personal to the reader. As you undoubtedly know, this can be done in a number of ways: personalizing the salutation, embedding the reader’s name in the copy, referencing the recipient’s hometown or state of residence, mentioning the amount and/or date of her last gift or how long she’s been a donor to the organization, adding an individualized gift string based on previous giving, and perhaps even citing the issue or program that prompted the donor’s last gift.

Of course, the presumption is that these personalization techniques will enhance giving by making the recipient feel like this is a real one-on-one communication—that this organization “really knows who I am” and, therefore, deserves a contribution.

But a series of emails we’ve received from Organizing for America is raising the bar on the whole notion of personalization. Then again, this sort of innovation hardly seems surprising coming from the group that—while technically a “project of the Democratic National Committee”—in reality is the successor to Obama for America, Barack Obama’s legendary presidential campaign organization.

The follow-up email shown below focuses on the pitch that “we still need 2 donations from Mountain View today to ensure our organizers—in communities across the country—get the resources they need to show voters we’ve been fighting for them.”

The original email puts it this way: “To keep making change and to defend the change we have already won, we need you—and at least 7 other people in Mountain View—to contribute so we have the resources necessary going into the election.

Here’s the follow-up in its entirety:

Sent: 7/23/2010 8:13:21 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time
Subj: Just 2 more supporters in Mountain View


We are just 101 days away from the November election.

You saw in the President’s note below just how determined Republicans and their special-interest allies are to undo what we’ve accomplished together. Organizing for America is already fighting back with an aggressive campaign plan to make sure they don’t get the chance.

But we still need 2 donations from Mountain View today to ensure our organizers — in communities across the country — get the resources they need to show voters how we’ve been fighting for them.

Please donate $20 today to help us fund our campaign:



—————–Original Message—————–

From: Barack Obama
Subject: Change

Friend –

When you and I set out on this journey three years ago, we knew that ours would be a lengthy struggle to build a new foundation for this country — one that would require squaring off against the special interests who had spent decades stacking the deck in their favor.

Today, it is clear that you have shifted the odds.

This morning, I signed into law a bill that represents the most sweeping reforms of Wall Street since the Great Depression, and the toughest consumer financial protections this nation has ever seen. I know that I am able to do so only because the tens of thousands of volunteers who make up the backbone of this movement overcame the most potent attack ads and the most powerful lobbying the special interests could put forward.

Our special-interest opponents and their Republican allies have now set their sights on the elections in November as their best chance to overturn the historic progress we’ve made together.

Organizing for America counts entirely on supporters like you to fight back — no special interests, no corporate PACs. To keep making change and to defend the change we have already won, we need you — and at least 7 other people in Mountain View — to contribute so we have the resources necessary going into the election.

Can you donate $20 today and help Organizing for America lay the groundwork for the fights ahead?

Because of Wall Street reform, we will ensure that Americans applying for a credit card, a mortgage, or a student loan will never again be asked to sign their name under pages of confusing fine print. We will crack down on abusive lending practices and make sure that lenders don’t cheat the system — and create a new watchdog to enforce these consumer protections.

And we will put an end to taxpayer-funded bailouts, giving us the ability to wind down any large financial institution if it should ever fail.

The passage of Wall Street reform is at the forefront of the change we seek, and it will provide a foundation for a stronger and safer economy.

It is a foundation built upon the progress of the Recovery Act, which has turned 22 months of job losses into six consecutive months of private-sector job growth. And it is a foundation reinforced by the historic health reform we passed this spring, which is already giving new benefits to more than 100 million Americans, ushering another 1 million Americans into coverage by next year.

But today’s victory is not where our fight ends.

Organizing for America and I will move forward in the months ahead on the tough fights we have yet to finish — even if cynics say we should wait until after the fall elections. This movement has never catered to the conventional wisdom of Washington. And we have fought to ensure that our progress is never held hostage by our politics.

You and I did not build this movement to win one election. We did not come together to pass one single piece of legislation. We are fighting for nothing less than a new foundation for our country — and that work is not complete. As we face the challenges ahead, I am relying on you to stand with me.

Please donate $20 or more today:

Thank you for helping us get here,

President Barack Obama

Paid for by Organizing for America, a project of the Democratic National Committee — 430 South Capitol Street SE, Washington, D.C. 20003. This communication is not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.

Contributions or gifts to the Democratic National Committee are not deductible as charitable contributions for income tax purposes.

This email was sent to:

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So, even if we blew off the President’s “personal” appeal that Organizing for America needs us—“and at least 7 other people in Mountain View”—to pony up, “Mitch” (aka Mitch Stewart, the group’s Director) comes back to say they need “just 2 more” donations.

Well, we don’t know about you, but our gut feel is that there’s some real magic in this “just 2 more” idea. Apart from creating a sense of urgency and immediacy—the perfect combination for an email solicitation—it brings what is undoubtedly a huge, nationwide campaign down to a very personal level.

And that’s using the notion of personalization in a whole new way!

Copywriters Deborah Block and Paul Karps are partners in BK Kreative, 1010 Varsity Court, Mountain View CA 94040, phone (650) 962-9562 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (650) 962-9562      end_of_the_skype_highlighting, email


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