Email becomes a big election tool

Political parties are expecting to make a lot more use of email in their election campaigns than they did four years ago.

Political parties are expecting to make a lot more use of email in their election campaigns than they did four years ago.

Most parties say they have increased their IT budgets for the election over four years ago, though none would say by how much nor how much they already spend.

Alliance general secretary Gerard Hehir says the party will be using email in new ways.

“In the last three years access to email has grown dramatically, particularly for younger people. Obviously it’s cheaper, easier and instant and I think it’s more effective than junk mail.”

National party president Michelle Boag is also an email marketing enthusiast. “IT is a huge tool. Email is so much cheaper and more effective and it can be targeted.”

Boag and party colleagues went to Australia last year to study the Liberal party campaign.

“We learned a lot of lessons about how they used technology and we’ve picked up some valuable tools from that.”

She wouldn’t go into detail other than to say that “they use a system that allows for structured communications with voters”. Boag says this election’s IT budget is “considerably greater” than last time but wouldn’t quantify it.

Labour party president Mike Williams says IT isn’t broken out for individual budgeting.

Williams, who founded an Auckland database marketing company and sold it in 1997, says: “We don’t have an IT budget. It’s spread throughout our operations and permeates the modus operandi of the party.”

He says IT developments are ongoing, iterative and incremental. The party is upgrading its website to allow electorate campaign teams secure access to certain policy areas.

The Act party will use a newly implemented customer relationship management software system to write to voters with individualised letters based on age, gender, geography, socio-economic status and occupation.

It will be using email based on subscriber lists to distribute two weekly newsletters — Richard Prebble’s “Letter from Wellington”, which goes to 20,000 people, and Muriel Newman’s “The Column”, which is sent to 13,000 people.

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