Presidents' Day is here, and I've been thinking about various US heads of state. I've wondered whether they would also have been great CMOs, because in many cases their words and ideas have withstood the test of time.

Some of you would likely be thrilled to have these leaders running your marketing campaigns, at least according to a recent poll about US presidents that we conducted at Campaigner. (See the infographic at the end of this article.)

As you consider your next email campaign, think about tried-and-true presidential wisdom and its potential impact on your marketing efforts:

Wine, Dine and Make Your Constituents Pledge Allegiance to You

Politicians and email marketers alike understand the importance of entertaining a crowd. Abraham Lincoln said it best: "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer."

Customers love to be wined and dined (even virtually), but you also have to truly understand your clients and continually test new ways to reach them. Take baby steps: Start by changing your subject lines and button colors. Then make changes on a broader scale by trying split-testing with dynamic content or new pictures to see what resonates with customers and gets them to engage. Secure their loyalty so your customers pledge allegiance to you!

Wondering who is the most charismatic presidential communicator? Of those who responded to Campaigner's survey, President Clinton was crowned the most "charismatic communicator" with 21% saying he would be the best email marketing communicator. President Obama placed second with 18%; Franklin D. Roosevelt (13%) and Ronald Reagan (11%) placed third and fourth, respectively.

The Buck Stops... With You

Bill Clinton said, "Being president is like running a cemetery: You've got a lot of people under you and nobody's listening."

It is your responsibility to encourage your customers to respond—and action. Feature solid, relevant content with a call to action in your email campaign and outreach. You may have an exceptional newsletter, but with no call to action, the content may be ignored or, worse, people may unsubscribe. Just like getting voters to the booths, encourage your audiences to vote with "click" or "sign up here."

Be a marketing leader and gain your customers' attention. We asked consumers which president could theoretically go from commander-in-chief to CMO. The plurality of respondents (33%) selected President Kennedy. President Reagan (20%) beat President Obama (17%); surprisingly, even President Nixon gathered a few votes (4%).

Play to the Audience: Tell Them What They Want to Hear

While appearing on the Letterman Show, President Obama responded to future election plans with a quick reference to "Vice-President Oprah." You, too, need to keep your eyes and ears open to understand your audience and communicate with them effectively. Understand what interests your audiences and keep them engaged with inspirational yet on-target messaging. Request feedback from your customers so you can adjust your strategy so that you deliver news and offers they want to receive.

Be inspirational in your communications, like so many presidents of the past, appealing to emotion and motivating action. According to our poll, 32% say President Kennedy could have created the most inspirational email campaign, and 20% say Abraham Lincoln would have transferred his countless inspirational sayings into email. President Clinton got the vote of 14% of respondent. President George W. Bush was in last place with 8%.

Clever Campaigning, Savvy Strategizing

Our nation's first-ever president, George Washington, said, "To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace." Testing and planning are essential to successful email marketing campaigns. Plan your attack at least one month (preferably two) in advance, with extensive details. Be sure to have clear marching orders in your plan: Include a calendar and a map outlining the upcoming three or four months.

Oh Say Can You... Stamp Out Swing Votes? Identify and Segment Your Audiences

Franklin D. Roosevelt said, "If you treat people right they will treat you right... ninety percent of the time." Again, you must understand your audiences and what messages they will welcome. By segmenting your lists, you can rest assured that the right messages are going to the right people. A Democratic campaign is going to be different from a Republican campaign because they're targeting different audiences.

Segmentation rules apply to Web content and structure. You don't want to send a CEO to a landing page designed for marketing managers. Proper segmentation will ensure your constituents will remain in your camp and not turn into swing voters.

* * *

US Presidents have provided us with great tips through the centuries that can help improve your business. This Presidents' Day, honor them, and your business, by making sure these proven tactics are woven throughout your email marketing campaigns.

presidential wisdom for email marketers

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image of Seamas Egan

Seamas Egan is manager of revenue operations at email software and services provider Campaigner.

LinkedIn: Seamas Egan