Digital Tactics for Local Parties: 6 Best Practices for Email

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Want to quickly and easily get a message in front of as many people as possible? Email is the way to go. There is a reason every brand, organization, and candidate wants your email address. Your local party can and should take advantage of email in the same way. But knowing when to use email, and how to get the response you want, is crucial to achieving your goals.

1. Start with the right email client

While a service like Gmail is great for your personal communication, it’s not ideal for your local party’s email program. Instead, consider an email marketing client - like ActionNetwork, NGP VAN, MailChimp, or Constant Contact.

These products allow you to easily send email blasts to a list of email addresses you’ve collected. Some key features to look for when choosing a client are:

  • Forms you can add to your website and link to from Facebook for people to sign up easily.
  • The ability to segment people into different lists for different kinds of communication (e.g., people who attended last year’s picnic vs. everyone who wants to receive your newsletter). You might not use this option until your list has grown, but when you’re ready for it, you’ll be glad you have it.
  • Analytics that help you understand how many people are opening your emails and clicking on links.

2. Make it easy for people to sign up

Your email client should provide a variety of ways for people to sign up - like links, popups, and embeddable forms . You can also collect emails addresses the old-fashioned way - by asking people to write them down at events, meetings, and when canvassing. Just make sure someone actually adds these addresses to the list on your email client.

Add an embeddable form to your website so people can sign up with as few clicks as possible - and make it easy to find, ideally on the homepage.

Depending on what client you choose, you may also be able to use online petitions, volunteer sign-ups, and event RSVPs to collect email addresses for your list. You can share links to these on Facebook and give people a reason to share their email address.

Note: You should not add people to your email list without asking - but you can send a personal email to your personal contacts inviting them to sign up.

3. Update emails are OK, but use them sparingly

One way to make sure the people on your list know about upcoming events is to send weekly or monthly update emails. Sending one of these emails on the first Monday of each month - or the first Monday of each week during an exceptionally busy season like GOTV - can be a good way to help your members keep their calendars organized and make time for party activities.

In these emails, include accurate dates, times, and locations - then link to each corresponding Facebook event so folks can easily RSVP and get reminders. You should also include relevant sign-up links for volunteer shifts or events that require a ticket.

If there are a lot of events, highlight the most important events at the top, then list the remaining events chronologically below.

4. Send clear, concise, and convincing Call to Action emails

Where update emails are designed to help your followers keep their lives organized, most emails will be Call to Action emails - these are designed to get people to take one specific action, and only one action.

The “action” will usually involve clicking a link to:

  • Donate
    • Click here to chip in $5
  • Sign up for a volunteer shift
    • Sign up to canvass on Tuesday 
  • RSVP for a specific event
    • RSVP for the Summer BBQ today!
  • Share something 
    • Share Megan Hammond’s new campaign ad on Facebook


The Call to Action link should be clear about what you’re asking, and it should be near the top so people don’t miss it if they don’t read the whole email. Repeat the Call to Action again near the end of the email for people who read the whole thing first.

Your email client will likely let you add the link as a button so the link is hard to miss. You can also bold, underline, and change the color of text to make the link really obvious - even for people who only skim their mail.

5. Hook them with the subject line

Once you have an excellent email crafted, make sure that people will actually open it. Catch their attention with a great subject line. Three strategies you can use include:

  1.  Pique their curiosity, and ask a question your email answers.    
    • Subject: How are we going to win in November? 
    • Email: Explain your GOTV plan, then make a direct ask to help achieve that goal.
  2. Convey a sense of urgency, just don’t get too dramatic.
    • Subject: Only 2 days left to get tickets!
    • Email: Invite people to purchase tickets for a fundraiser.
  3. Make an offer they can’t refuse, and tell them what you want them to do.
    • Subject: Don’t miss Coffee with a Candidate!
    • Email: Remind people of an upcoming event by asking them to confirm their attendance and link to a form to RSVP.

Here are a few additional thoughts on  how to write a great subject line.

6. Experiment and pay attention

Your email client should include analytics, like how many people open each one, and how many people click each link you include. Pay attention to which emails are the most successful, which are the least successful, and stick to what’s working. Give it time and you’ll learn which strategies are most effective, and check out our course on targeting voters.

Then, don’t be afraid to use your best emails as a reference point to make writing new emails as easy as possible. Make sure to check out our course on Digital 101!

Jacob is a Communications Associate for NDTC. Jacob was initially an intern for NDTC in 2016 before moving on to work for both a Chicago Alderman and an Illinois State Representative. After working in Parliament in the Republic of Ireland, Jacob joined NDTC in April of 2018. Jacob is a graduate of DePaul University with a degree in Political Science. Outside of politics, Jacob tries to forget the Chicago Cub's century of losing while enjoying their recent success.