I Endured One Month of Trump’s Emails. Here’s What I Learned.

TL;DR: I received 155 Trump emails in 30 days. All emails used ego-inflating communication techniques similar to QVC call-in shows and late-night Ginsu knife commercials touting artificial scarcity.

A few months ago, I signed up for Trump’s emails. It was radio silence all summer, until September 1st when they started to arrive.

I created a Gmail filter that funneled them into a folder affectionately named “Trump Trash”. I was curious to see what he was sending out. Of course, reading them would spike my blood pressure and turn me into an agitated grump for the rest of the day. But as the month progressed, I became genuinely interested to see, from a marketing perspective, how his campaign was nudging donors down the conveyer belt from awareness to conversion. My grumpiness quickly subsided as the emails kept coming because I began to see how shallow, desperate, and Home-Shopping-Network-esque they were becoming. They had that “you wouldn’t believe this” and “act now for a free gift” tone that left me nostalgic for late-night Ginsu knife commercials from the ‘90s.

During the month of September, I received a total of 155 emails. That’s an average of 5.16 emails per day. I spent some time analyzing their contents, and here are a few common themes I discovered.

“I really really hope he sees my name and knows that I exist. *Giggles* I’m such a big fan! I admire his leadership and business acumen.” -Gullible Donor

You want him to know your name and that you exist.

Picture in your head your favorite movie star or musician. Now, you can imagine the undeniable thrill of having that person know your name. It’s silly, I know. But it’s real. In one of Trump’s emails, they say “We’re sending a list of the first 100 Patriots who step up directly to the President’s office. If you act in the NEXT HOUR, we’ll make sure your name is in spot #5.” They’re appealing to the same ego-inflating dynamic that makes an audience member hope the star performer knows they exist. Do you think he’s really going to print and frame a list of donors to hang in his office?

You want your peers to know you’re part of his exclusive club.

In another email, he says, “I want to have a RECORD-BREAKING 1,000,000 American names displayed for the entire Nation to see. Just think, your name could be the very FIRST name displayed.” They’re appealing to our deep human desire to be loved and admired by the masses, and when a famous person speaks or displays your name live on stage, you feel like you’re suddenly part of an exclusive, elite club. You also get the illusion that some of that person’s star power and prestige (also known as their brand) transfers to you, and the thrill feels so real.

You want to join the fan club, buy stuff, and oh wait, there’s more!

35% of the emails I received were pushing me to either buy something or enter sweepstakes to possibly win a product or service. These usually included a Trump collector’s item like wine glasses or hats. Or an all-expenses-paid trip to DC where they will “make sure you have a very nice place to stay”.

Cool, but… a $1,000 bill isn’t actually produced anymore.

There are occasionally some emails that promote a book written by one of his supporters, of dubious quality and often with amateurish covers. Some emails, when attempting to close the sale, use artificial scarcity tactics like, “I can only hold your hat for ONE HOUR before putting it back on the shelves, so don’t wait.” and “They are already FLYING off the shelves, and we haven’t got many left in stock. But, President Trump knows what a fantastic supporter you are, so he asked us to give you PRIORITY-ACCESS.”

In conclusion, there is nothing about leadership, nothing about solving problems, and nothing about building a better tomorrow for America’s children. It’s about him. It’s about the fan club. It’s about buying stuff. It’s about the eternal battle of “the MOB, THE MEDIA, THE HOLLYWOOD ELITES, THE DEEP STATE and THE SWAMP vs. YOU.” And it’s about appealing to the most shallow, fragile egos who will trade their hard-earned money for the short-lived thrill of thinking Trump knows their name.

Now, to find that unsubscribe button…

PS. Lastly, I’ll leave this little gem right here. It’s a cart abandonment popup on a donation page that appears when your cursor moves toward the X to close the tab:

Senior Director of Digital Communications & Brand Experience at NYU School of Global Public Health / Podcast Producer / Occasional Bowhunter