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Santorum Led GOP Candidates ... in Frequency

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by: Loren McDonald (@LorenMcDonald)
11 April 2012

Until this week, the GOP race for the 2012 presidential nomination was beginning to look a lot like Christmas—or at least the holiday email season for retail email marketers.

A major series of primaries earlier in April helped heat up email frequency to near-"Super Tuesday" fervor, but frequency fell off after the primary elections and over the Easter holiday weekend. (See our Mashable infographic on Republican email strategies.)

Blurring the email-frequency picture was Rick Santorum's announcement Tuesday that he’s ending his campaign, which was communicated in a farewell email titled "Thank You" sent shortly after the news about his campaign status broke.

Weekly frequency has retreated slightly to an average of 14.7 per week. It's not clear whether Santorum's departure, coupled with Newt Gingrich's acknowledgement last week that Mitt Romney likely would capture the nomination, would continue the trend of decreased frequency even as primaries with large delegate pools approach.

OBSERVATIONS

1. Hotter Campaigns = Higher Frequency

The heavier email frequency in early April reflected the heated rhetoric between Santorum and Romney. Romney holds more delegates, but Santorum had been the email leader, sending 70 emails since the study began, compared with 67 from the Romney campaign.

Romney's totals include several geotargeted emails that went only to California and Wisconsin email addresses.

Ron Paul, on the other hand, cut back his email frequency markedly. Although he had been the most active emailer earlier in the study, in recent weeks his weekly average has fallen, from a high of nine per week to 3.8.

2. Frequency and the Fundraising Deadline

Romney vs. Santorum: The Romney and Santorum campaigns had markedly different cadences, or the rate at which messages arrived in the measuring periods.

Romney campaign emails appeared to hew to a set schedule, even those that responded to current events, such as election results or President Obama's State of the Union address.

The campaign never exceeded more than two emails sent per day, and some multi-email days happened because one message was delayed arriving into the inbox a day or two.

In contrast, the Santorum campaign sent up to three emails a day twice during the campaign, several of which appeared to be quick notes dashed off by Santorum himself or a campaign staffer and sent in plain HTML text rather than using the official campaign template.

Fundraising deadline: If Super Tuesday was the "Black Friday" of the GOP race, then the March 31 contribution report deadline was the candidates' equivalent of online retail's "free shipping" deadlines.

Three of the four candidates sent a total of seven emails on or around March 31 specifically asking for donations before the quarterly fundraising reporting deadline: three from Paul and two each from Romney and Santorum.

3. Where's Newt?

After receiving three emails in a row from Jan. 9 to Jan. 11 in the study period, we received no more Gingrich messages directly to the addresses we monitor. Did the campaign stop sending email to people outside of Georgia? Are certain ISPs blocking Gingrich emails? A co-worker did receive emails from Gingrich, but since neither I nor the other researcher received any messages, we’re staying with zero.

Note: These figures include all the messages that came to the various email addresses set up to receive campaign emails.

Several messages appeared to be “resends” of a previous message but were counted as another email. The numbers don't include any emails that might have been geotargeted to ZIP codes other than those used in the study—the idea being to reflect the volume of emails received by a typical subscriber.

Also, Santorum's farewell email is counted with the others his campaign sent in the most recent week of analysis in order to be discussed in this post.

More on the GOP Candidates’ Use of Email:
1) Infographic: “2012 Election Email Strategies in the Republican Race
2) Blog: “GOP Candidates Email Fast and Furious Around Super Tuesday
3) Blog: “GOP Email Throwdown: Content Varies as Much as the Candidates

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