Trump’s fundraising: Size does matter

June 27, 2016
Donald Trump holds paperwork which states "Donald J. Trump, Veteran Fundraiser" during a news conference at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York, U.S., May 31, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Donald Trump holds paperwork which states “Donald J. Trump, Veteran Fundraiser” during a news conference at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York, U.S., May 31, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Donald Trump’s attempts to raise money for his presidential campaign through email solicitations are gaining steam, a company tracking his marketing performance has found.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee got off to a slow start: The first two emails he sent to supporters asking for money went directly to the junk mailboxes of a combined 74 percent of their recipients, never to be seen again.

Of the remaining 26 percent of recipients, only 8 percent actually opened the messages, according to Tom Sather, the senior director of research at Return Path, an online marketing company that uses a panel of 2.5 million email users to measure the success of email marketing campaigns.

But an email Trump sent on June 24 following the UK’s Brexit vote performed significantly better, reaching 97 percent of intended recipients’ inboxes, with 20 percent of those recipients actually opening the message, according to Sather.
That’s in line with some of the best-performing email marketing campaigns around, Sather said.

The change shows Trump making strides in an area of campaigning in which he lags noticeably. Unlike his rivals in the Republican primary elections, as well as Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, Trump put no effort into fundraising during the primaries.

Though he accepted donations through his campaign’s website, Trump told supporters he was the only incorruptible choice for president because was self-funding his campaign and didn’t need outside money from big donors or special interest groups.
The wealthy New York businessman funded his operations through a mix of personal loans to his campaign and donations. Last week, he forgave $50 million in loans he’d made to his campaign.

Campaign finance reports for May showed Trump a fundraising juggernaut in Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee. She raised $26 million compared to Trump’s $3.1 million for the month, and ended the reporting period with $42 million in the bank, while Trump had only $1.29 million.

Sather said Trump still had a great deal of room for improvement. Clinton’s email list is seven and a half times the size of Trump’s and among subscribers who have signed up for both Clinton and Trump emails, Clinton has a 29 percent higher “open” rate than Trump. The size of his list is even small compared to those of Republican rivals no longer competing against him. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson amassed a list one and a half times larger before suspending his campaign in March, Sather said.

“There’s a lot of opportunity I think  all around for that to improve,” Sather said. “As we see with Trump’s spam folder placement improving, also coupled with the fact that he does have a lot of high engagement with people opening his email, if he gets his campaign together he could be a force to be reckoned with.”

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