Want to raise more money through emails? Be casual and insistent

want to raise more money through emails be casual and insistent barack obamaWhat one word worked best when it came to the Obama campaign’s attempts to use email as a fundraising machine during the just-completed US Presidential Elections? Here’s a clue: It wasn’t “Romney,” “Mitt,” “Republican” or any of the others that are probably coming to mind in response to that question. It was, apparently, a simple “Hey.”

The use – overuse, some may argue – of email by the Obama campaign in its fight against Mitt Romney for control of the White House was the topic of much discussion, and almost as much late night television comedy, over the last few weeks, with Obama supporters receiving a surprisingly high number of messages from Barack Obama (or, really, someone far lower down the political food chain who was using his name as they entered in details in MailChimp, Constant Contact or a similar service) over the course of the race. But there was, of course, thinking behind the email blitz, and a new piece in Bloomberg Businessweek looks at the science that went into choosing subject lines and wording of each of the messages.

According to the campaign’s director of digital analytics, Amelia Showalter, “We did extensive A-B testing not just on the subject lines and the amount of money we would ask people for, but on the messages themselves and even the formatting.” Emails would go through as many as eighteen drafts before being approved for mailing, with messaging being continually adjusted based upon the performance of messages that had previously gone out. Toby Fallsgraff, the campaign’s email director, explained that “When we saw something that really moved the dial, we would adopt it,” adding that “Subject lines that worked best were things you might see in your inbox from other people. ‘Hey’ was probably the best one we had over the duration.”

If that seems surprising to you – I admit, if I saw something like that in my inbox from a celebrity, I’d be more likely to assume it was spam and delete it than think it was a real email – then you’re not alone. “We were so bad at predicting what would win that it only reinforced the need to constantly keep testing,” Showalter said. “Every time something really ugly won, it would shock me: giant-size fonts for links, plain-text links vs. pretty ‘Donate’ buttons. Eventually we got to thinking, ‘How could we make things even less attractive?'”

The testing was also, in part, responsible for the amount of email that Obama supporters received. “At the end, we had 18 or 20 writers going at this stuff for as many hours a day as they could stay awake,” Fallsgraff said, explaining that – of course – the testing was the reason why. “The data didn’t show any negative consequences to sending more [emails].” Well, aside from the amount of material it provided for Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, of course. But then – any publicity is good publicity, right…?


Facebook no longer lets you save your friends’ birthdays to your own calendar

Facebook quietly removed a feature that allowed users to export and sync their friends’ birthdays to an external calendar like iCal or Google Calendar. While you can still export upcoming events -- parties, get-togethers, and the like --…
Social Media

Looking to share some content? Here's how to repost on Instagram

Have you ever seen a cool picture on Instagram that you wanted to share? There's no official means of reposting content on Instagram, but there are a few workarounds. We break down the two most logical choices for getting the job done.

Bitmoji lets you create personalized emojis to spice up your online chats

Looking for more interesting ways to use emoji when chatting? Bitmoji are personalized emoji that you design to look just like you -- and then create a whole keyboard of stickers that you can use with them. Here's what you should know.
Social Media

Your Twitter name can change with the times, just like you do — here's how

Despite what you may or may not have heard, Twitter names aren't actually set in stone. Check out our quick-hit guide on how to change your Twitter username and display name in less than five minutes.

Reddit is finally back online after an hours-long desktop outage

Reddit is back online for desktop users after an hours-long outage early Thursday morning. Reddit's status page said it was still investigating some residual issues, so users may still have some trouble accessing the site. 
Social Media

Here’s why Twitter went down for an hour earlier on Thursday

Twitter is finally back online after going down for users around the globe late Thursday morning. The hour-long disruption made Twitter the latest major social media network to go offline over the past month
Social Media

Facebook now allows you to opt out of those ads that target your tastes

Tired of seeing Facebook ads that aren’t relevant to you? Now you can not only opt out of ads from that company, but you can also see why the ad was shown to you in the first place.

Stop Facebook from tracking you and using targeted ads with these tips

Facebook and businesses that use the site track what pages you like, your political affiliation, and even try to guess your race. All of this is done so the site can target you with relevant ads. Here's how to opt out.
Social Media

YouTube offers creators more ways to boost their bank accounts

Whether you're a top YouTube creator or just breaking into the game, the video-streaming site has some new features designed to help you please your fans and increase your bank balance.

President Trump attacks Facebook Libra, says it’s not dependable like the dollar

President Trump attacked Facebook's new Libra cryptocurrency on Thursday, claiming it will have "little standing or dependability" and that Facebook would need to seek a banking charter if it wanted to move forward.
Social Media

The FTC will hit Facebook with a $5 billion fine over privacy violations

Facebook has agreed to a $5 billion settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over its numerous “privacy missteps." Once it goes through, this would be the largest FTC fine for a major technology company – and a huge chunk of…

Lua uses animated emotions to help you keep your plants happy and healthy

The Lua Smart Planter is currently seeking funding on Indiegogo to make this smiling plant pot a reality. The device helps you take care of your plants by showing their needs through a series of animated faces.

Flex your thumbs (and your brain) with these fun texting games

Gaming consoles keep getting more advanced, but you can still have fun with the good old Latin alphabet. Here are our picks for the best texting games, so you can make the most fun out of that limited data plan or basic cell phone.

Facebook says it won’t launch Libra until regulators are happy

Facebook says it won’t roll out its Libra cryptocurrency until it’s fully addressed regulatory concerns – though it added that regulation of the currency itself would largely happen in Switzerland, not the U.S.