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Team FanBridge



We’re in the midst of an historical presidential election.  The stakes are high, and candidates need as much support as possible.  In 2012, 90% of President Obama’s donations came from email.  With even more spending in 2016, and continuing record-breaking donations, candidates need to be the most effective at getting supporters to donate.  Even with social media being a crucial element, “nothing comes close,” to email, says Michael Beach, co-founder of Targeted Victory, a digital campaign firm (via NPR).


We wanted to gather tips on how presidential candidates collect donations and build relationships with their supporters via email.  So, we reluctantly signed up for all five remaining contenders’ email updates.  That’s right, we’re now getting daily (sometimes hourly) updates from Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich.  Each candidate’s designs, messaging and tactics let us in on how to get the most out of your email subscribers.  Here are the 10 lessons you can take away from their emails:


Only Send to Opt-ins


A few candidates are in hot water after sending to another candidate’s email list or even sponsoring an organization to send a message to their subscribers on their behalf.  Just check out this “sponsored message” from Donald Trump:




John Kasich also sent an email to Scott Walker’s list urging them to join the campaign after Walker dropped out:




As you can imagine, these did not go over smoothly.  While reaching similar audiences is good, you’d probably do better to focus your email efforts on people that you know are legitimate supporters.


What This Means For You:


Email can be a big driving source of revenue.  Rather than getting caught up in the legality of sending to an email list that did not want emails from you, focus on sending an excellent and caring message to the subscribers you do have.  A fan-turned-advocate will serve you much better than a non-fan who is now annoyed that you’ve sent them an email (and let everyone on social media know about it).


The “From” Name Matters


Most candidates use the “From” space for the candidate’s name.  Clinton’s camp even changes this from herself to “Bill Clinton” to “,” depending on the message.  We also noticed that John Kasich’s email came from “KFA Team,” which actually took us a minute to realize that this stood for “Kasich For America.”


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This skips a crucial and personal element of email that should not be overlooked.  This is the first thing someone will look at to decide whether or not to open the message.


What This Means For You:


The less confusion, the better.  The more personal, the better.  Your fans notice the difference between you sending an email and your manager or street team sending an email.  Guess which one they’re more likely to open?


Properly Addressing the Reader


There are two excellent ways to go about addressing your reader.  First, use their first name, assuming you’ve collected that data.  This automatically makes the message more personal.  Second, you could use a term like “Friends-” to create an inclusive tone.  Whatever you do, don’t make these mistakes like Hillary Clinton or Ted Cruz:




Awhile back, Hillary Clinton was criticized for the tone addressing her supporters in an email with the subject line, “I’m not Kidding, Maddi.”  Always remember that it is hard to convey tone via text, so stay away from phrases that might be taken more harshly than intended.




Ted Cruz’s campaign addressed supporters with Dear [First Name].  However, if the first name isn’t stored, it will appear “Dear  ,” and the reader will know you’ve made a mistake.


What This Means For You:


If you intend to send an email addressing the reader by name, make sure that the sentence still makes sense if the name is left blank.  On FanBridge, the proper tag to display the first name of the subscriber is [FIRSTNAME].




“I’m not kidding, Maddi” is only the start of it.  All of the candidates’ messaging must reflect the tone of the entire campaign.  Donald Trump emphasizes making America great again, while Bernie Sanders emphasizes the grassroots movement and a political revolution.  Ted Cruz, a noted Constitution enthusiast, signs his emails “For liberty, Ted Cruz”


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What This Means For You:


Whether you know it or not, your brand has a tone and specific voice.  It’s something that your subscribers respond to, and it’s important that it stays in tact through all of your messaging.  They’ll notice the difference.


Focus of the Message


The best emails from the candidates are the ones that shift the focus from the candidate to the supporters.  An inclusive message as opposed to a message that suggests the importance of the candidate themselves will do much better.  For example, Bernie Sanders’ campaign does an excellent job of this right off the bat, addressing supporters as “Sisters and Brothers.”


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Who doesn’t do a great job of this?  Donald Trump. Minus a brief, “Thanks for your support,” his emails are about winning the polls and debates.  He even goes on to say in one email, “I am winning because this campaign is not about me, but about the issues I am raising – like our open border with Mexico.”  He goes on to talk about his alleged net worth of $10 billion.  No where does it mention in that email any kind of community of supporters.  It simply keeps going with “I will” statements.


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What This Means For You:


Make sure your fans are included in the message.  This should be about building a community as well as making a living.  If your motivation is purely selfish, your fans will be able to tell.


Display Some Urgency

Even if there isn’t any urgency, a message of urgency will get people to act now.  A few candidates have sent emails by city or zip code to single people out.




One of millions means very little to a person’s role in the campaign (ever heard of the bystander effect?).  One of two suddenly includes you more in the process and in achieving a goal.  Candidates can also create urgency by offering goodies in exchange for an immediate donation (more on that below).


What This Means For You:


If you have a coupon that expires in one year versus a coupon that expires on Saturday, which are you more likely to use?  Even if the urgency is concocted, like in these candidates’ emails, it’s an important component to getting people to take action.  It’s a reason why crowdfunding campaigns have time limits and goals.

READ ALSO: FanBridge & Crowdfunding


Use Location Data


Above, you saw that you can use location information to make your supporters feel more included in the process and create a sense of urgency.  Another way candidates have used location is to alert supporters to local events or volunteer opportunities.




Anyone subscribed to the email list is most likely a more engaged supporter.  These are the people most likely to turn out to volunteer or attend an event.  This also localizes and personalizes a national campaign, once again, bringing the focus away from “one of the millions.”


What This Means For You:


Occasionally speaking to a smaller group, specifically when you’re promoting local events, can go a long way.  Firstly, you should be promoting your events without annoying fans that aren’t in the area.  Secondly, bringing the focus in from the wide lens will show your fans that they are more than just one of the many in your eyes.  If they feel important to you, they’ll be more likely to take action in support of that.


Learn More About FanBridge’s Intelligent Targeting


Always A/B Test


We’ve found a couple of examples of different versions of the same emails.  Check out these two different versions of Trump’s welcome email:




These candidates’ teams know that testing success of two versions with a small sample can inform more effective messaging overall.  In just this example, the message length and detail plus the signature are small changes that can make a world of difference.


What This Means For You:


Don’t get complacent in your messaging.  You should always be checking analytics to see what works best for your audience and continuously adjust based on that information.


WATCH: FanBridge’s Advanced Analytics


Offer Free Swag


A popular tool on the campaign trail is offering a free goodie in exchange for a donation.  “Well doesn’t that make it not free?”  Technically, yes.  However, if a supporter was on the fence about donating or perhaps planned to donate down the line, this incentivizes that bracket of indecisive supporters to make the leap.  Hillary Clinton just sent this email on Wednesday:


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Additionally, this gets swag in the hands of supporters.  A small sticker or button is likely to be displayed where at least a few others can see, perhaps swaying friends.


What This Means For You:


Offering something for free every once in awhile does not have to be a bad thing.  Starting a conversation, creating urgency, and offering an incentive are all positive things when building a brand and a fan base.


FREE DOWNLOAD: PDF Guide to Free Giveaways on FanBridge


Use Visuals


Email marketing has graduated from plain text of the 1990s.  However, we don’t think all of the candidates caught on.  Check out John Kasich’s plain text welcome email:


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Not very compelling, huh?  Most of the candidates seem to at least understand the basics of a compelling visual within an email.  For example, a “donate” button is likely to perform much better than a text link.  Even better, give donation amount options:


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Clinton’s camp goes above and beyond in the visuals department.  Check out this animated GIF sent after her wins on March 15: (7)


The more visual, the more likely the reader will actually read the message and click through to make a possible donation.


What This Means For You:


Plain text emails may seem personal, but they’re hard to read.  Use a free (and easy) tool like Canva to step up your game.  And, use Call to Action buttons to show a clear action for your readers to take.


READ NEXT: 22 Ways to Use a Call to Action Button


Team FanBridge


Happy March Madness, FanBridgers!  We think the most fun part of March Madness is the fans, so we’re doing a different kind of bracket for this tournament.  We will be tracking the social media growth of the competing teams on multiple platforms to see which team can build their audience the most.  Check out how we’re tracking the teams for each round, and check back here to see which teams advance throughout the course of the tournament.  May the best fans win!


See Last Year’s March Madness Results


Round 1: Twitter

Twitter is the king of live social media commentary.  We want to see whose audience is paying attention during a basketball game.  Teams that gain the highest increase of followers on Twitter during Round 1 will advance to the next round.


Round 2: Facebook

Facebook has the most users of any social platform, with 900M unique monthly visitors.  Let’s see who can get the attention of the largest audience on the internet in this round.  Teams that gain the highest increase in Facebook Likes during Round 2 will advance to the next round.


Sweet Sixteen: Instagram

Instagram boasts the highest engagement of any other social platform.  We want to know who has the capability to build a highly engaged audience in this round.  Teams that gain the highest increase in Instagram followers during this round will advance to the next round.


Elite Eight: Instagram and YouTube

Instagram and YouTube are highly visual platforms.  Let’s see who has excellent visual content in this round.  The teams that gain the highest increase in YouTube subscribers and Instagram followers combined will advance to the next round.


Final Four: Facebook and Twitter

Facebook and Twitter are the top two most-used platforms, often equally important to social marketers.  We want to see who will make it to the finals based on which teams can effectively market to the largest portions of their audience.  The teams that gain the highest increase in Facebook Likes and Twitter followers combined.  Keep in mind that if a team doesn’t gain as much on one of the two platforms, it will actually hurt their overall increase, so the stakes are higher here!


Finals: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube

We’re tracking followers/likes/subscribers on all 4 of these platforms for the final round.  May the best content strategy win!
Check out our bracket below and check back for updates after each round.  Let us know in the comments who you think will take the prize!

Click image to expand



Just like last year, 2016’s championship winner also ended March Madness with the largest social growth. Villanova gained 24,535 new followers and subscribers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube while also taking home the NCAA trophy after this year’s tournament.


Our 1st Round observations provided us with varied and interesting results. Several teams gave it their all and advanced to the next round of games despite low social growth. Even as Providence stole the win from USC at the last minute, they weren’t able to net that many followers, earning them the lowest social growth in this round. Regardless of their losses in the 1st round of the games, Michigan State and West Virginia advanced in our tournament, receiving 2,108 and 4,347 followers respectively and beating out Syracuse who made it all the way to the Final Four of the actual tournament!


Round 2 provided us with some fairly predictable results. One major standout was the growth experienced during the Indiana/Kentucky game. A tense game saw a rivalry reignited as Indiana moved on to the Sweet 16 with the highest social growth of any team in this round. Despite the loss, Kentucky also walked away with over 1,500 followers after the game. Notre Dame saw a social growth upset as they advanced to the Sweet 16 in a dramatic last second play while only gaining about 200 followers, eliminating them from our bracket.


As the games came closer to an end, remaining teams continued a strong social media presence as they called on the support of their loyal fans to help them achieve victory. North Carolina kept their Instagram engagement strong as they provided fans with statistical graphics of each game and video and photos of every step of their journey to the finals. They continued strong in the Elite 8, gaining over 2,000 subscribers for their YouTube channel filled with highlights from not only their basketball team but all athletic events for the college. Surprisingly, Villanova just squeaked by into the next round with only 41 new channel subscribers.


Villanova managed to turn things around in the Final Four, dominating Oklahoma with a 44-point lead and dominating the remaining teams in social growth over Facebook and Twitter by at least 1,000 likes/follows. Unfortunately, the knockout from the NCAA Elite 8 was too strong to keep Virginia’s social growth momentum going as they only gained 50 followers on Facebook and Twitter, knocking them out of our tournament as well.


For our final round analysis, we scoured the major social media pages of UNC and Villanova’s teams. Overall, here’s the total social growth seen by each team during the tournament:


North Carolina: 17,061

Villanova: 24,535


With such a wide difference in growth, it’s clear that Villanova earned their spot as our social media champions this year. But how did these two teams differ in engagement strategy? Let’s look deeper:


Villanova’s use of strong, well-made, graphics and gifs greatly helped them topple UNC’s engagement across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. UNC provided some great graphics as well but, unlike Villanova, they failed to diversify the general style of their graphics, causing some images to come off as repetitive and simple.




Villanova also stuck to a consistent and catchy hashtag (#LetsMarchNova) throughout all of their graphics, photo collages and descriptive play-by-play posts. Meanwhile, UNC meandered between multiple hashtags from time to time (#UNCBBall, #GoHeels, #HeelsLockIn) which muddied their message a bit and possibly hindered their social media growth.




When it comes to video engagement, although results were mixed, Villanova still came out on top. While UNC’s various highlights and interviews that covered all college athletics helped them gain traction on YouTube, it wasn’t enough to give them the edge over Villanova’s locker room interviews with players on Facebook and Twitter. On Instagram, Villanova provided well-edited compilations of training, interviews and in-game moments and a nice shot of the final play that won them the championship.

Boom goes the dynamite…

Overall, North Carolina was able to best Villanova in YouTube growth and give them run for their money in Facebook engagement but, unfortunately, it wasn’t enough against the Wildcats. Villanova really brought their A-game with well-edited graphics that provided a cohesive hashtag to promote social media support and information on where to watch games. This really let them shine on Twitter and Instagram which helped them nab this year’s Social Growth Champion title along with the NCAA trophy! Congratulations to Villanova and to all teams for really playing and Tweeting their hearts out this season. We look forward to seeing who’ll take the title next year!

Team FanBridge



SXSW starts in only a couple of days, and after that, the festivals just keep on rolling in!  As there are so many FanBridgers performing and attending these events, we wanted to give you a guide to keeping up with email and social media as you navigate an often exciting and hectic environment.  With more fans comes more responsibility…or something like that.


FULL LIST: FanBridgers @ SXSW 2016


As always, preparation starts before the event starts.  Here’s a few things you need to take care of before you arrive:


Promote Beforehand


If you are scheduled to appear or perform, make sure you let your fans know!  Send an email campaign (or three) and post on all of your social media accounts.  Make sure you give all the details available for fans that want to attend.  For fans that might not be able to attend, they may still be interested and pay attention to your event on social media.  Filling up your show with super fans can even lift the energy of the entire performance!


Plan Your Schedule




At many festivals, there are a million events and sessions fighting for your attention, and you simply can’t do everything.  Do you research beforehand to see which events interest you most or might best serve your needs.


Update Your Social Presence


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Do a quick overview of your social media presence.  Have you updated your cover photo recently?  A quick change like a cover photo listing your festival appearances can do a lot for new fans that will discover you at the festival.  Additionally, use FanBridge’s sign up forms and events widgets to place strategically throughout your web presence to gain as many new subscribers as possible.


READ ALSO: This Twitter Secret Makes it Easy to Turn Followers Into Subscribers




Recording Equipment


If possible, a live recording of one of your performances is an excellent thing to share with fans that couldn’t make it.  You can even use it as an free download or a live album.


FREE DOWNLOAD: FanBridge Guide to Free Giveaways




Sometimes, an iPhone camera still just won’t do an image justice.  Bring a great camera so that you have a lot of excellent high-quality photos to share with your fans, both during the event and after.




Bring three.  One breaks, one gets lost, and you still have one left.  With events like SXSW, you’ll most likely leave your hotel room early in the morning, and you will not return until after midnight.  Always have a charger on hand can save you from the desolate world of being the only one not in the loop.  Once you’re stuck without a phone, it’s hard to know where you’re going, connect with friends in the area, and connect with fans online.


Business Cards / Collateral




You’ll most likely be meeting a lot of new people at panels and shows throughout the event!  Always have something you can hand out to a new friend that might be interested in what you do.  Think carefully; make sure it’s not something that’s too heavy or bulky.  Pro Tip: Add dates and times of your shows so new fans can stop by and see what you’re all about!


Smartphone or Tablet




If you’re able to set up a merch table at your show, add a tablet or smartphone with the Fan Collector App so that new fans can easily sign up for your mailing list (make sure you bring a charger for this too).


Download the Fan Collector App for iOS and Android


Once you arrive, the fun is just beginning.  Make sure that you’re consistently posting amidst the many events happening around you.  Make time for fans that couldn’t be there and fans that are just discovering you.



Show Info


We’ve covered this.  Your fans need to know where you are, and new fans need to know where they can find you.  Pin a post to the top of your profiles so no one misses the most crucial information.


Festival Hashtags


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There’s always at least one hashtag that everyone is using (i.e. #sxsw or #sxswinteractive).  Be sure to include it in any posts to boost your reach.


HQ Photos


They don’t have to be high quality, but if you’re able to, a good photo can go a long way on social media.  Either way, showing your fans what your experience looks like is important to keeping them engaged even when they aren’t there.






Make sure you’re sharing your perspective of the experience.  That’s what your fans care about.  Choose a few events or moments where you can show fans what you’re seeing and talk to them on Periscope or Meerkat.


INFOGRAPHIC: 2016 Social Marketing Trends


Other Excellent Events


Remember that other artists are not your competition or your enemy.  If you attend a great show, give a shout out to that artist, and maybe they’ll do the same for you.  Cross-promotion can be a great way to get new fans.  Plus, this gives your fans an inside look at what kind of shows you like.


Don’t Forget Your Personality


In all the chaos, remember to add a personal flare to your posts.  Fans want to hear from the “real” you, not the promotional version.


Talk to People


You’ll be surrounded by a lot of unfamiliar faces that don’t know who you are, but are interested in a lot of the same things!  This is the perfect opportunity to make new friends and fans.  Go out of your comfort zone and talk to people.  In addition to creating new fans, you may come across a fan who loves your work!  Building that relationship with a meaningful interaction can go a long way.


READ ALSO: 6 Ways to Connect With Fans at Events


Let Your Work Do Some Talking


If your show isn’t good, a lot of this may not yield results.  At the end of the day, your art still needs to speak for itself.  Make sure, above all, that you are prepared for your shows.  That will get you more fans than any social media post or conversation.  Make sure during your show to ask people to sign up for your mailing list or follow you on Twitter to stay up to date.


Phew!  Congrats, you made it through the festival!  But your work isn’t done yet.  Keep building on the experience and the momentum you’ve created.




Send an Email


Keep everyone in the loop on how the festival went for you.  Be sure to include any key highlights, photos, or other recordings.


Welcome New Fans


You’ve probably gained some new followers and subscribers!  Keep interacting with them online to build the foundation for a great relationship!


Tell a Story


You may not know the narrative going into the chaos, but after the festival, you’re guaranteed to have at least one great story.  Sharing something like that makes your fans feel like friends.  They’ll appreciate the authenticity and openness, and it will make them feel like they were there with you.




This is where all those photos come in handy.  Do at least one #TBT on Instagram.  Perhaps you might even save a great story for that as well.  Keep the experience going longer to keep fans engaged longer.


There you have it!  It’s a chaotic and incredible time, and you’ll be overwhelmed, excited, and nervous.  We hope these tips help to create a better experience for you and your fans!


THROWBACK: Music Industry Experts Give Their Advice on Leveraging Email and Social Media at Festivals


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