Building an Email List: It’s Really Not Scary

//Building an Email List: It’s Really Not Scary

Building an Email List: It’s Really Not Scary
by Natasha Smith, User Experience and Communications Manager, National Democratic Training Committee, @traindems

You need to build an email list for your campaign. Here’s how to do that with Action Network:

If you’re running a campaign, you need a digital presence — sorry, but Facebook and Twitter just don’t cut it.

You need to build an engaged list of supporters who will volunteer for your campaign, fundraise for you, and, most importantly, vote for you. That means building an email list. It’s the strongest way to reach your base and gets you talking to the people you’ll need to win.

You don’t need a digital director to build a list.  You don’t need to know how to code, and you don’t need to spend tons of money or time on training. All you need is a digital platform that’s intuitive and accessible (read: doesn’t require a lot of training) but powerful enough to get you talking to — and keeping in touch with — your potential voters. Here’s how to get started.

Building an email list

Getting people involved means more than just gathering email addresses and sending out newsletters. You need to build an engaged email list with supporters who will step up to work for your campaign.

Start with simple actions that build your list quickly, petitions focused on key issues in your community, and follow up with bigger asks, like coming to an event or chipping in a couple dollars to your campaign. There’s no faster or more effective way to identify and engage your top supporters that will carry your campaign to victory on election day.

And lucky for you, building your email list has never been easier.

You’re starting from square one in your local election, and you need to know what issues your potential voters care about the most. Asking for feedback on your platform, community, and campaign are great ways to engage people and identify which issues resonate with voters. After you create your free Action Network account, start with a simple form asking voters which issues are most important to them. Grab the auto-generated embed code from Action Network and paste it onto your campaign homepage so visitors to your website see it first thing. Share the form on your Facebook and Twitter, and ask your followers to do the same.

You’ll quickly get a sense of the issues that fire up your supporters. Maybe most respondents are focused on increasing funding for the local library. Your next step could be to create a petition demanding more funding for the library, which you can embed on your homepage and encourage your followers to share.

You’ll grow your list of potential voters who think that issue is a crucial one in the election, and you’ll reach a new audience — people who sign might not have been very interested in the upcoming election before, but now they are, and they’re supporting you.

Rinse and repeat with the top issues on your platform. After just a few days, you’ll have a list of supporters who you can email to invite to campaign events (check out Action Network’s intuitive Events tool) or ask for donations (hint, hint: Action Network Fundraising).

Taking your list door-to-door

Building your email list shouldn’t replace your in-person canvassing, election events, and baby kissing — but it should compliment it.

Action Network is fully-mobile ready, and the toolset’s responsive layout makes it perfect for taking out with you as you knock on doors. Pull up the issue survey on your phone or tablet and ask community members to add their responses. You’ll be adding to your list in real-time, eliminating the need to manually input people’s handwritten responses (if you can read them at all!).

Tracking your support, learning from it, and winning the election

Regular engagement with your email list will generate statistics on messaging that resonates most with your base. Use Action Network’s built-in A/B testing to find which subject lines lead to the best open rates on your emails. When you gather statistics on everything from fundraising to open rates and click rates, you can cater your message to your potential voters and easily duplicate what works so you can use it again. Cut down on staff time, and learn more about your supporters in the process!

With an engaged list of online supporters, campaign volunteers, and messaging catered to your potential voters, you’ll stand a strong chance of winning. Just don’t forget about us when you reach the governor’s mansion!

What are you waiting for? As a nonprofit online mobilization toolset for progressives, we built Action Network to be intuitive, accessible, but also powerful. It takes almost no training to get started, and it’s free to create an account at For an intro to the toolset, check out one of our weekly demos. Let’s get started!