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Here in California, voter ID programs are aided by a very complete file – phones, emails, addresses. In most voter ID programs, I also work with Accurate Append (client) to supplement voter files. If I don’t have emails or need more coverage, an email append can fill the gaps. Accurate Append’s services are essential for line-typing phones, where different contact methods are required for cells vs. landlines, and for validating emails.

Once your data is clean, using a simple calculator to estimate voter ID costs and frequency per contact method will help you determine where to deploy volunteers and how much you’ll need to spend to reach your goals.

Recently, I’ve been working on cost-analysis for voter IDs, and my firm is also beginning to use response data from our programs to create goals and budget for the meaningful interactions that precede a hard ID and help determine the health of a campaign. The sample calculator below includes social ads, bulk mail, and cost-efficient products from some of my favorite voter outreach solutions: CallHub for computer-based texting and dialers, VoterCircle for an influencer peer-to-peer program, and Ecanvasser for app and paper-based door-to-door canvassing. There are several notes on the original spreadsheet linked below the embed.

Voter ID program results are highly variable based upon scripts and targeting. Green numbers are variable and will change the results and costs totals when updated (you’ll need to copy the original spreadsheet). If you have suggestions or feedback, please email me, adriel@adrielhamptongroup.com. Hope you find this helpful!

Original Spreadsheet

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One of the biggest challenges in running a Congressional race is keeping up the required fundraising pace. Email fundraising can help take some of the pressure off the candidate, but how to grow your list?

After starting with friends and family, it basically comes down to append vs. acquire. Here’s why I think a good email append strategy comes out slightly ahead here.

Append

Voter files often have some email coverage in place – the California file includes email addresses, and software like the VAN and PDI have email coverage but may charge fees to use those addresses (you’ll need a campaign-friendly bulk email system no matter what you do here – MailChimp will not allow the kind of voter prospecting I’m outlining).

For purposes of this exercise, let’s say you have about 300,000 voters on your Congressional voter file. An email append from a professional vendor like Accurate Append (client) will give you back deliverable email addresses for about one in three people on file. These emails come from consumer opt-ins throughout the web – however, they haven’t signed up for your list.

This list of 100,000 emailable people will cost you about $6,000, and may include data sweeteners like additional phone numbers for your voter file, and address standardization and correction using the Postal Service’s National Change of Address database.

What do you need to do to get these folks onboard?

First, I email a survey about issues in the district – one a landing page with little to no candidate/campaign branding, if possible. Typically this gives me an open rate of about 22% and perhaps a few hundred people take the survey. I included a prominent “leave this list” note with an unsubscribe link, also letting the prospect know I am reaching out because they are a voter in the district. Perhaps 2,000 of the original 100,000 unsubscribe.

Initially, I will be able to email about 20,000 of these folks, maybe more if I try additional survey tactics – however, I keep a very light touch to keep spam complaints low. I’ll begin to ease these 20,000 openers who didn’t unsubscribe onto my list. And for fundraising, I’ll bring in about $300 per email ($15 per thousand emails). I’ll estimate a that about half the list unsubscribes over the first couple months – but by that time, I should have brought in about $6,000 with 20 emails, paying for the cost of the list. Now I have an asset of about 10,00 voters who will still give about $150 per email, or $1,500 per month. Start early and this is a solid way to grow your list – especially if you’re reaching these local emailable voters with volunteer appeals and generally recruiting their support.

Acquire

An email acquisition strategy generally means partnering with a company that does this full time, or else investing a lot of ingenuity into a petition strategy. I co-founded Really American to help with large-scale signature opt-in acquisition efforts, and will say that getting district-specific emails is difficult and expensive.

But for this exercise, let’s say you can get 6,000 opt-in emails for your district for $6,000. ($1 each is a low estimate here.) These folks opt-in through a petition with your logo on it – but that doesn’t automatically make them happy subscribers! You’ll need to warm them up using Action Network Ladders or some other form of welcome series.

As you begin emailing these folks, you may raise twice as much per thousand vs. the appends, $30. That’s $180 per email, and if you send 10 a month, it’ll take just over three months to recoup your cash investment. You’ll also lose subscribers, ending up with perhaps 4,000 at the end of the first quarter of emails. That’ll be ongoing revenue of about $1,200 a month.

Append or acquire, there’s no easy money – but nurturing an email program can certainly pay for itself while achieving many of your outreach goals. Please read my article in Campaigns & Elections on content that nurtures a list to find more ideas.

The new CTO of the DNC has already notched up a big win in Virgina, where the Democrats and aligned “WinVA” poured staff and new distributed field tools into the House of Delegates race, winning net +15 seats (three seats are still too close to call – in the balance are control of the Legislature and deeper influence on the state’s redistricting process).

I’m very pleased that VoterCircle played a role in this victory. Back in 2015, after being laid off by NationBuilder, I joined VoterCircle as an advisor – its growth has been extremely strong, but what’s most promising is VoterCircle’s potential to dramatically reduce the cost of elections. The software works by matching a campaign supporter’s personal network (email, generally, but LinkedIn and phone contacts also work) with eligible voters. At enterprise rates, it costs just $0.10 per contact – much cheaper than mail, and each contact is a confirmed email open. Whenever I prepare campaign plans these days, I lean in on VoterCircle – can we cut the cost of voter contact and then focus volunteer time on doors and phones with voters we cannot reach through a personal network?

Putting a digital touch on field contacts not only gives us a better look at who’s getting our campaign messages and how they are reacting, VoterCircle also learns from the campaigns networks, identifying the most influential voters with a campaign’s target universe. Campaigns can then focus special attention on supporters who can reach more than 10, 50, or more voters with just one email.

I also like to use cell phone and email data appends with VoterCircle to improve the quality matches (you can also use that data in survey-based email campaigns and in texting programs).

The most challenging barrier to adoption of a tool like VoterCircle is user trust – the DNC went a long way there by enlisting well-known surrogates:

With trusted, well-known surrogates, you’ve reduced the barrier to use – if you don’t have a Rosie or a VP candidate, try using the candidate themselves!

Wired magazine covered VA as an opportunity for the Democratic Party to take more risks in districts it may not win.

Tech donors bundlers also said they will be using data from VA to assist other Democrats use their money efficiently.

Read DNC CTO Raffi Krikorian’s thoughts here.

The first time I came out to Puget Sound was in my mid 20s. I was interviewing for a reporter position with the Tacoma News-Tribune. I marveled at the size of Mt. Rainier looming over the Sound. My hotel had a wooden deck that allowed me to walk out and look at the big moon jellies bobbing in the blue-green water.

After reporting for a morning (I didn’t take that job), I went out to a recreation area and spent an hour or so picking up jellyfish with a plastic cup and lobbing them back into the water. My hands got only a little bit numb. Tacoma is very beautiful, and whenever I’ve spent time up there, it’s sunny.

Many years later (yes, I’m getting that old), I sailed for the very first time, again in the Puget Sound. My host was Chris Nichols, president of my long-term client Accurate Append. The water was a bit rough so we spent a lot of time under power, but on the way back I got a profile-worthy shot at the helm. I worried over knots and clumsily helped tie the boat at our various docking points.

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Nothing about my early trips to the Seattle area came close to my experience taking out a 37-foot cruiser for a nearly week-long tour of the San Juan Islands. There are officially 172 islands and reefs that make up the San Juans, but only four are served by ferry. A handful more are popular for boating tourists. With enough time, fuel, and wind, the San Juans are perfect for a sleepy sail. You’ll enjoy beautiful sunsets, admire remote houses built up on the pristine island hillsides, and tie up in tranquil bays and inlets with other sailors. You can also take advantage of one of the many island harbors with fuel for both boats and hungry and thirsty sailors. The best portside amenity after a few days will be the quarters-fed pay showers!

On my first full San Juans adventure, four of us – plus a Boston Terrier! – piled onto the Lucy Jane. With a full larder and three two-man berths, we still had plenty of room to move about above and below decks. I will say, though, that 6’3” doesn’t quite fit well in a sleeping berth – I knocked my head and elbows a few times, and did some gymnastics moving around my partner to get to the head or up in the morning.

I’ll write more elsewhere about what it’s like to go ashore and explore the islands. The sailing adventure is a tale of its own.

On our week-long voyage, we hit Sucia Island, Roche Harbor and Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, Blakely Island Marina, and Spencer Spit State Park. While we motored around a bit due to a couple of unseasoned deckhands (yes, me and my partner!), we also took advantage of good weather to cut half circles between the islands. I kept a close eye on the navigation and depth finder – you don’t want to be one of those discovering an obscure reef! But other than wandering into Canadian territory and getting in trouble with customs, the San Juan Islands are friendly for newer sailors. Our boat was part of the Windworks Sailing fleet, and sailing lessons are available for those who aren’t going out with a seasoned skipper.

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Spencer Spit was one of my favorite spots, and, not to spoil my second post, my experience watching tiny hermit crabs in a stream feeding to the beach was transcendent. The longer I started into the pool, the more crabs I could see, like stars on a clear night. Clear night skies are another benefit of sailing the San Juans!

Just a couple hours outside of Seattle and a short sail from Anacortes, the San Juans are a treat that no sailor should miss.

Whether you’re running for city council with a vote goal of 2,200 people, or for President with a goal of 65 million, your campaign needs the best contact data to increase the number of connects to those voters.

Mailings can cost up to $1 each – every address had better be right.

For targeted calls, the challenge is connect rate. Say an unappended file has 30% coverage for phones. But it’s likely a third of those will be outdated! So you start at one-in-five voters contactable by phone. If you can increase coverage to 50% correct numbers, you’ve increased your contact rate 2.5x. That’s game-changing.

If you’re using commercial software and voters (or donors!) don’t have a “click-to-add” button for contact data, ask your vendor to implement the Accurate Append contact data API. You can then append landline and call phone numbers, emails, and update addresses if needed. Accurate Append has a basic implementation of the Open Support Data Interface, which means other adopters of that data standard can easily add Accurate Append data to their voter outreach tools and CRMs.

If you’re doing your own voter or donor database, access to the Accurate Append API is free for up to 500 calls for testing. With billions of data points – including hundreds of millions of emails and cell numbers – you don’t want to miss out.

guest post by Jeff Swift

Email marketing is an incredibly resilient strategy. Despite regular predictions of its demise – often citing the advent of Facebook, Twitter, Google Wave (RIP), and now SnapChat – email simply isn’t going anywhere. People open their emails. They click on links in their email. And they are motivated to donate by high quality emails.

When email is done right, it’s incredibly powerful. When it’s done wrong, it can be a disaster. Three of the most common email mistakes are easy to commit and often difficult to address:

  1. Emailing the wrong people
  2. Sending the wrong content
  3. Ignoring your audience

Emailing the wrong people

Sending an email newsletter out without having accurate data is like walking blindfolded across the street. There’s a chance nothing will happen, but it’s a bad idea.

Not only should you know your recipients’ names and email addresses, but you should ideally know quite a bit more about them. If you know their zip code, for example, you’ll be able to just send them emails about events in their area. If you know basic consumer information – what magazines they subscribe to, for example – you’ll know whether you should reference the outdoors or video games in your next email.

Email inboxes are very personal spaces. People have no problem clicking unsubscribe or marking as spam if they don’t feel the email is sent specifically to them.

The right people will know that a newsletter is meant for them. Don’t send to the wrong people. Email and demographic appends are worth the investment – as long as you use them!

Sending the wrong content

Now that you’ve got your audience sorted out, it’s time for the easy part: writing the actual email.

Nothing is more unnerving to a writer than a blank screen. That blinking curser just taunts you. Fortunately, with accurate data on your audience, you never have to start with a blank screen again. Make a list of what you know about your audience – do they prefer electric cars or NASCAR? Do they mostly live in big cities, or are they spread out across the countryside?

Put yourself in their shoes. What would you want to see in your inbox, if you were them?

When you hit that sweet content spot, you’ll know. Your open rates will climb, your click rates will meet your goals, and your list will grow.

The wrong content won’t get anywhere.

Ignoring your audience

Once you’ve got the right audience and the right content, it’s time to click send. But that’s not the end of it.

Your audience will give you invaluable information with every email, as they open, click, forward, unsubscribe, or take action on your website.

When you find something that works well, do it more often. When something flops, make sure you don’t do it again.

This sounds like obvious advice, but the fact is that many email lists are used like billboards – they just broadcast information out there and don’t bother to see how it’s received. Honor your investment in the data you collected about your audience and be willing to accept data directly from them.

Get started

Using data in email campaigns sets you up to succeed. Learn about your audience, target emails accordingly, and make sure to learn as you go.

The Puget Sound is one of the nation’s best areas for sailing. Spanning 100 miles from Deception Pass in the north to Olympia, Washington in the south, and averaging 450 feet in depth, the Sound provides prime sailing conditions.

The Sound is easily accessible through one of the many cities on its coasts, including Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, Bremerton, Poulsbo, Port Townsend, and Everett.

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Seattle has become one of the prime launch points for a variety of watersports in the Puget Sound–from swimming and scuba diving to boating and waterskiing. In fact, one experienced sailor described the conditions here:

You can sail in Elliot Bay and explore the Seattle from the water.  There is a great marina conveniently located right near the Pike Place Market. The sound is strewn with islands for exploring, quiet harbors, and services always close at hand. The conditions in the Sound are almost always mild, with some 1 to 2 foot waves building in the longest, open stretches.  It’s almost like exploring a large lake.

Seattle Magazine, in fact, defends the city as a major sailing capital: “nowhere is better than Seattle for beginner sailors to get under way. Around here, there are so many sailboat rental options, it’s easy to hoist a mainsail, heel out and head up into the wind.” Another Seattle-based publication agrees:

The Seattle area boasts some of the best sailing in the US, with stunning scenery and ample wildlife like seals and whales. Combine this with variety of interesting destinations, plus the relatively protected waters of the Puget Sound, and you’ve got a perfect place to get out on the water and learn to navigate your way around a sailboat.

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Sailing in the Puget Sound

South Sound Talk recommends five of the best Puget Sound locations to explore by boat:

  • Day Island and Narrows Marina: “Visitors of this island won’t find much in the way of recreation, dining or shopping, but rather a tiny island boasting sweeping views of the Puget Sound, Mount Rainier and the Narrows Bridges. While touring this small island, don’t be surprised if you find your favorite new view or future dream home – the island is lined with charming houses.”
  • Blake Island: “Because Blake Island is only reachable by boat, and because it has been preserved as a Washington State Park, it is a quiet retreat for kicking back and enjoying the great outdoors with friends and family. If the wind is good you can sail from Tacoma to Blake Island and back again in a day. A motor boat will make the trip in no time at all.”
  • Anderson Island: “Anderson Island is the South Puget Sound’s southernmost island and one of the area’s best kept secrets. With a population of just more than 1,000 people, Anderson Island is a sleepy, hidden gem that offers visitors everything from stunning beaches and lake swimming, to a rich local history and more.”
  • Vashon Island: “There is lots to see and do in the “Heart of the Sound,” or what is more commonly known as Vashon Island. An artsy island boasting tasty fare, eclectic shopping and an abundance of outdoor recreation, Vashon Island is reachable to visitors only by boat.”
  • Dead Man’s Island: “If you’ve ever been to Kopachuck State Park in Gig Harbor, Wash., chances are you’ve peered out upon the small, wooded and sandy land mass known as Dead Man’s Island. A favorite summer spot for locals, Dead Man’s Island boasts epic views of the Puget Sound and is surrounded by sandy shores perfect for summer sun bathing.Because the island’s shoreline is so sandy, boaters can anchor right on the beach. Or, if you’d prefer to travel by kayak, Dead Man’s island is just a short paddle away from the mainland.”

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How to get started

As one Seattle-based publication suggests, sailing classes are a must for anyone without experience:

Sailing isn’t difficult, but all of the jargon and equipment on board requires some learning for the uninitiated. One of the best ways to learn to sail is to find a friend or experienced sailors looking for crew. It takes more than one person to navigate a larger boat, and being a crew member is a great way to learn the ropes, or the sheets, as a proper sailor would call them!

The nice thing about sailing in a place like Seattle is the easy access to incredibly high quality of sailing classes within the city. There are charter services and training classes for every level of sailor or power boater, so you’ll be able to find what you need whether you want to strengthen your skills or gain new ones.