The science behind those Obama emails

Actually, it’s more like the basic statistics behind those Barack Obama campaign emails. But science is sexy and statistics (despite Tim Harford and Nate Silver‘s best efforts) are not, yet.

So the headline uses “science” for this interesting piece on the Obama campaign emails:

Fortunately for Obama and all political campaigns that will follow, the tests did yield one major counterintuitive insight: Most people have a nearly limitless capacity for e-mail and won’t unsubscribe no matter how many they’re sent. “At the end, we had 18 or 20 writers going at this stuff for as many hours a day as they could stay awake,” says Fallsgraff. “The data didn’t show any negative consequences to sending more.”

After a pause, he offered a qualification: “We do know that getting all those e-mails in your in-box is at least mildly irritating to some people. Even my father would point that out to me.”

The full piece is well worth a read, especially as it brings home just what a big difference in impact there is between what seems like an effective message (but isn’t) and one that seems like an effective message (but is). Even experienced people are poor at guessing which will be which. You need to keep on testing to distinguish between the two.

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