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Wanna Guess Which 2012 Presidential Candidate Wants Your Email Address the Most?

by Demian Farnworth

Let’s do a little test:

Take a look at Mitt Romney’s website.

If you visited this page, what would you do?

Would you hand over your name and email addy?  Or hit the back button?

What I Love and Hate about Romney’s Landing Page

The tight-fisted, hard-nosed marketer in me likes the landing page. Forty years ago you could’ve got away with this.

The user-experience-dominates side of me, however, doesn’t like it.

You could never get away with it today.

But he is.

Of course, all you have to do is click “Continue” or just about anywhere else on the page and you get through without forking over your name and email address.

However, I have to confess, I was not too quick to see the “Continue” button and actually clicked away (I am slow).

That’s lame, I thought, I’m not giving him my name and email address, and so I bounced out.

I wonder if his bounce rates are high. Maybe they are not a concern. Maybe the people who come to his site love him so much they don’t mind handing over their name and email address.

Better option would be to do an overlay like this one from Versions:

Let’s stop picking on Romney and see how his competition is doing.

What I Love and Hate about Obama’s Landing Page

So, is Obama’s landing page user-friendly?

At the time of this writing, hardly:

Obama abandons the “Continue” link and makes the door to his site even more narrow.

No worries, you can click through to the site without giving up any information.

Then again, no, you can’t.

You land on yet another landing page:

This time at least you get a “Click to the website” link.

But that’s lame.

While we all know that the 3-click rule is BS as long as people feel like their clicks are taking them in the right direction…there is absolutely no excuse for rendering two nearly-identical landing pages before you get to the home page.

What’s the point?

The message being sent is this: I REALLY want your email address.

What’s Wrong with Obama’s Home Page?

To be honest, I don’t know why they just don’t use Obama’s home page:

He’s got everything you want there.

The user is in control. He can do whatever he wants to do. He can donate. Drop his email address in their database. Read an article or two. Or do all three.

Why the squeeze page?

I know the answer to that.

It forces people to give up their email address. But where both Romney and Obama gone wrong is not giving people a more compelling reason to share your contact information.

Fail: Sign Up for Email Updates Call-to-Action

Both candidates use the generic “Get campaign updates.”

That leaves a lot to desire.

For instance, I’ve never followed anyone’s campaign via email so I don’t have a clue what an update would look like. Does that mean you’ll tell me what city you are traveling to next? Will you tell me what your staffers are doing? Your reaction to negative poll numbers?

And Obama asks, “Are you ready?”

Ready for what?

Of course email addresses have such a low-exchange rate in the web’s economy these days that maybe most people don’t care and they figure they’ll just see for themselves.

This generic approach may work for blogs like Copyblogger or Unbounce where people understand that the blog churns out constant content, and so by signing up you’ll get more of that lovely stuff you’ve been browsing for the last hour…

But when a squeeze page stands between you and the content, you need to provide a list of reasons. You need to make people feel stupid for not signing up. Not the other way around.

Your Turn

So, what do you like or dislike about the 2012 presidential candidate’s landing pages? Please share your thoughts.



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Demian Farnworth

Demian Farnworth is a freelance writer who hustles the finer points of web writing at The CopyBot. Follow him on Twitter or Google+.


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  1. Demian Farnworth says:
    July 13, 2012 at 9:15 am

    thanks for the comment Dan! Well said.

  2. dan barker says:
    June 22, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    Great comment from Stan. If you’re looking at their website, you’re interested. If you’re interested, you’re already more likely to give up your email address. If anything, showing what you’ll get if you provide your email address may be more likely to add ‘friction’ than reduce it.

    One other missing factor from the blog post here is the “already gave my email address” segment for each. Obama’s page may work slightly better for those, as the email/zip appear to the user almost as if they’re login/password fields. (which of course also give the obama team some interesting data, allowing them to measure ‘returners’ a little more accurately). With Mitt’s, a return visitor landing on the page may ask “I already gave my email address, why do I want to sign up for updates again?”

    Finally – Mitt’s button text – “Learn More”…? That doesn’t really seem to fit with the input boxes. I’d be more likely to assume that ‘Continue >’ was the button to click after entering my email/zip than I would be to hit ‘learn more’.

  3. Stan @ PushingSocial says:
    May 7, 2012 at 10:00 am

    You are right and wrong. How’s that for a political lead in?

    Listen, my heart says that Obama and Romney need to can their approaches and go with a relationship and clarity first, email second approach.

    The problem is that their current opt-in sequence…works. Actually it works extremely well. Some say that Obama’s use the squeeze page allowed him to gain an email list advantage that he deftly turned into a fundraising advantage.

    In David Plouffe’s latest book – he repeatedly referenced the Obama campaign’s dedication to testing. The tested this approach with others and used the most effective option.

    Frankly, these guys are in an all-out sprint to November. They can’t afford to use what best. They have to deploy what works. But, consider this – people who visit the Obama or Romney site or likely to be supporters. These folks are far more tolerant. In fact, they WANT to give their email address because they want to be in the know.

    Yes, these landing pages annoy the CRO and online marketing intelligentsia but are we really the target?

    • Russ Henneberry says:
      May 7, 2012 at 10:17 am

      Great stuff Stan. I don’t see anything wrong with what they are doing. If it works, it works. The question is, would they convert better if they weren’t so aggressive about getting that email address.

      How great would it be if you landed on Obama’s home page and a few seconds later a super spammy pop-up with some yellow highlighter appeared. Then, when you tried to leave the page, another pop-up that says “Are you sure you want to leave this page? We have a special offer for you!” LOL.

    • Demian Farnworth says:
      May 9, 2012 at 5:07 pm

      Stan, excellent lead in! Thank you for your thorough comment. I’m with Russ…if they are in the sprint for the finish, I think I would be optimizing for the best results. And yeah, I’m not his target…or am I? I’ll be voting in November like you and if I’m a swing voter…wouldn’t you think trying to grab my attention and persuading me through an email address.

      This is why I also think that both candidates could probably use a segmentation process. Solid supporters. Weak supporters. Swing Voters. Non-voters. Etc.

      As our past elections have proven it will be a race to the finish…so every tweak could lead to that one percent to win.

      On another note, the guys behind Optimizely tested the heck out of Obama’s campaign, especially when soliciting donations. I don’t think they are behind this campaign, though.

      Anyway, thanks again for your great comment.

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