Trump Camp Still Not Asking for Donations in Emails

Trump's Tremendous Email Spam Rate

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A Donald Trump email.
A Donald Trump email. Credit: Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.

By typical email marketing standards, Donald Trump's spam complaint rate is tremendous -- tremendously high.

Recipents marked nearly 8% of the emails sent by the presumptive Republican presidential nominee's campaign as spam, according to email measurement firm Return Path. By comparison, none of likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's emails were deemed spam.

Perhaps most curious, Mr. Trump has yet to email supporters any requests for donation, as far as Return Path can tell. Most political campaigns consider email an important tool for generating donations. The real estate tycoon in early May said he would begin accepting donations for his general election campaign, after months of promising to self-fund his presidential run and suggesting that other candidates are beholden to big-money donors.

According to Return Path, which evaluates email campaigns using estimates based on its panel of 2.5 million active email users, the Trump camp sent out just 21 different targeted email messages in May, 7.9% of which were marked spam by people who received them. The Bernie Sanders campaign sent out 272 different email messages, 0.3% of which were deemed spam. Ms. Clinton's campaign sent a whopping 658 different email variations, none of which got the spam label.

The Trump campaign's spam rate "is extremely, extremely high," said Tom Sather, senior director of research at Return Path. The high spam complaint rate could indicate that many of the email addresses in the Trump campaign's list were purchased rather than gathered through organic voter sign-ups. If people received the emails without actually signing up for them, they may have rejected them.

"We don't know how these addresses were acquired," said Mr. Sather. Because Mr. Trump is not a career politician, his campaign had to build its email list from scratch instead of enjoying a database cultivated over time like those of the Clinton and Sanders campaigns, he said. "All signs point to the fact that he was buying lists."

Purchasing email lists or paying to send email messages to subscribers of publications such as partisan news sites is a common and legal practice in political campaigning. CAN-SPAM law governing commercial email does not apply to political campaigns.

The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

The Clinton camp's high email volume indicates the sophistication of its email marketing program, said Mr. Sather. "It's actually just the sign of a more sophisticated email marketing campaign because she's doing a lot more segmentation," he said. In contrast, the minimal amount of emails from the Trump campaign, many of which have promoted campaign rallies, appear to have been segmented only by geography.

So far this month, the Trump campaign sent just four emails compared to the Clinton camp's 119 and the Sanders campaign's 57.

Select Candidate Email Subject Lines in June

Hillary Clinton:
I believe in her
This guy has insulted just about everyone

Bernie Sanders:
Our yuuuge opportunity in California
Our last chance to win hundreds of delegates for Bernie

Donald Trump:
Join Us in Redding, CA Tomorrow!
Team Virginia National Training Day

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