Salsa Blog

The voter database is NOT Your Email List

by Brett Schenker, Senior Deliverability Manager, Salsa

As campaign season begins, I notice an increase of files from the voter database being imported into systems that many campaigns and organizations use to track their voters. Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the voter database should never be used for your organization’s email list.

Let us refer back to the idea of an opt-in from the previous blog.

An opt-in is when someone specifically gives you permission to contact him or her. This can be done in a variety of ways, both online and offline. Some good examples are a sign-up page, a widget, signing a petition and including your email address, and even attending an event.

Offline opt-ins are a special case. With online opt-in actions, like the sign-up page, people are typing in their email address with the assumption that they will be contacted. However, many supporters who give their emails offline do not realize that this functions in the same way. They often hand over their email address not knowing the organization has the intent of contacting them. This is why you should follow up with a "Welcome to the email list" message and include an option to unsubscribe. More will be said about this later…back to the voter database.

The voter database is legacy data. This means that the email address listed may not be correct or the best one to use to contact an individual. Candidates have too often pulled my information from other systems, like the voter database, and emailed my personal email address. Take it from me, it is rather annoying and I definitely feel less inclined to support them or their cause.

In conclusion, all emails should be sent only to supporters that have specifically opted-in to receive them from your organization. Just because someone says they support your candidate or your issue, does NOT give you permission to email them. You must ask everyone on the phone to verify his or her consent and then follow up to make sure the information is correct.

So, along with all the other best practices I’ve listed out in previous posts, this one might seem simple, but it’s all too often ignored.

Topics: Marketing