A selection of my creative work as digital director for the Kentucky Democrats, primarily focusing on email copywriting, design, and some landing page optimization.
Creative HTML Email Design & Development
This email recently landed in my inbox from the Gillibrand 2020 campaign. Basically, a quick recap of a few days on the trail with a bunch of links — earned media, social media activity, etc. What a great way for a campaign to tell a story, right? Except, just look at the email — just a bunch of unstyled text and hyperlinks. Who is going to open up that email and click on all those links? It’s not very good to look at, and certainly doesn’t visually communicate the candidate’s brand identity. Without changing the copy, I thought I could make this more effective by taking a different approach to email design. My email design relies heavily on graphics, animated gifs, images, and content boxes to help guide the user through the copy, allowing them to quickly identify the content that interests them enough to click the link, while skimming over other parts they may find less relevant.
Email Copywriting, Design, & Development
The message to get across here is that McConnell is a fundraising juggernaut, and Democrats will need to match or surpass his numbers in order to compete. However, stats are hardly ever a good way to stir up an emotional reaction. And besides, McConnell’s 2019 1st quarter report was pretty much on par with other Republican incumbents in competitive 2020 races, and only out-raised his 2013 1st quarter numbers by about $300k.
So instead of focusing on the numbers, I attempt to tell a story that appeals to emotion. I remind the reader of 3 recent events where Mitch’s actions sum up his personal character and modus operandi as Senate Majority Leader. I characterize Mitch’s campaign donors as special interests willing to “pay any price tag” to keep Mitch in their pocket in 2020. But, at this time when Democrats don’t yet have an announced challenger, I also attempt to instill a sense of confidence in Democratic donors that McConnell is in fact vulnerable — and that his big fundraising numbers confirm that his donors are in fact worried.
This was one of the very first emails I did as digital director for the KY Democrats. It’ll always be memorable to me because Joe Rospars (Blue State Digital founder & CEO and Obama chief digital strategist 2008 & 2012) sent Ben Self (KY party chair, also a Blue State co-founder) a message complementing the email. All he said was “Great email!” but it meant a lot because Joe is basically one of my heroes.
I’m pretty sure this was our single best performing email (in terms of total dollars donated), but it also stirred up a lot of controversy. That was certainly by design. I was in the process of completely reinventing the Kentucky Democratic Party’s brand — and beyond my new logos and graphic identity redesign, I wanted to make it clear that this was a brand new party — willing to stand up, speak the truth, and pull no punches in order to win elections. Ben liked it enough to ask former Governor Beshear to attach his name to it, which was a good call, as it ended up attracting a good deal of media attention.
This is a second version of the previous email, rewritten for a national audience. The plan was to use a Daily Kos list, but ultimately we didn’t go through with it. Honestly, I don’t know the whole story as to why we didn’t do it. The decision certainly left a lot of money on the table.
Just a short & sweet “Commit to vote” email, but I liked the custom animated gif that I designed. I also made that graphic as an animated inline element — text and SVG (scalable vector graphic) — as opposed to a gif, for use on web pages. Here’s an alternate design, which I didn’t ultimately use, but it’s not a bad sample of animating text and other html objects.
An event invite on behalf of our new vice chair.
On behalf of a KY state senator, I had the idea for this email after he made some remarks on the senate floor talking about teachers and specifically called out some teachers by name who impacted him as a student. Also, I like my custom-designed animated gif.
Different versions of this email (linking directly to the respective event page on marchforourlives.com) were sent to segments of the list based on geographic proximity to each March for Our Lives event in and around Kentucky. In addition to the emails, I made this customized map to feature all of the events, which was published on our website and promoted on social media. I kind of love making custom maps with the Google Maps API, also demonstrated on the events page.
If you’ve taken a look around this website, it probably serves as a pretty good web design sample, but I figured I’d also show this landing page, a contribute page (using BSD Tools) with a customized responsive form (Blue State Digital forms are kind of terrible in my opinion, and difficult to customize), and my animated “Blue Wave” page background. Although, it looks like someone messed up the recurring donation checkbox, it didn’t used to look like that. While I’m at it, might as well include an example of a customized BSD volunteer sign-up page (this one with an election countdown clock) as well.
I further improved the design of my BSD forms for this new website demo, animating the form fields to respond to user interaction and input. Make sure to take a look at my updated versions of the simple volunteer sign-up form, and the basic contribute form. Also, what’s great about these forms is the way it will fill in info for signed-in users, which will likely increase conversion rates.