As the US presidential election campaign draws to a close research from Return Path shows how the two candidates have performed in terms of emails. No, not those emails.

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Email marketing and data solutions company, Return Path, has kept track of the candidates performance through the campaign using its Email for President tool (you can try it out here). Here are the key trends Return Path has identified based on data from more than 2.5 million consumer inboxes during the months leading up to this week’s election:

  • Hillary Clinton started the campaign with a larger email list, but Trump caught up. “Trump’s relatively small subscriber list came as no surprise, given that his campaign had to build its email list from scratch while Clinton cultivated her database over many years on the political scene,” Return Path said. Trump bulked up his email list throughout the campaign and it is now 9 per cent larger than Clinton’s list. “To achieve this gain, however, it appears Trump may have purchased lists to build his email database—which can do more harm than good in terms of deliverability.”
  • A lot of Trump’s emails ended up in the spam folder. According to Return Path, 60 per cent of messages sent as part of Trump’s first email fundraising email, sent out on June 21 never reached inboxes. “As it turns out, the fundraising email was sent from a new, untested domain, which spam filters didn’t recognise as a legitimate sender. Trump now sends email from four different domains, with varying spam rates.”
  • When his campaign emails manage to reach inboxes Trump’s subscribers are highly engaged. “Early in the campaign, Trump consistently bested Clinton in email open rate, a critical measure of subscriber engagement. However, Trump experienced a significant dip in open rate following the fundraising campaign discussed above, and it has failed to completely bounce back. As of late October, Clinton’s open rate stood at 18 per cent and Trump’s at 12 per cent—both above the 11 per cent industry average.”
  • The Clinton campaign’s adherence to email best practice has paid off. “Hillary Clinton’s entire email program runs through a single, certified sending domain, with around 96 per cent of emails reaching their intended inbox. Clinton’s email campaigns are highly targeted and rigorously tested, with multiple variations for different segments of her subscriber list. As a result, Clinton’s complaint rate (which measures the number of subscribers who mark emails as spam) has been virtually zero throughout the campaign, while Trump has seen complaints as high as 20 per cent in recent weeks.

Trump v Clinton emails

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The graph below demonstrates what percentage of Clinton’s emails ended up in spam folders versus emails sent for Trump’s four different domains.

US election
Source: Return Path





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