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The Trump campaign’s June fundraising totals sparked some hope in GOP circles that the presumptive Republican nominee could start closing the money gap with Hillary Clinton and turn his most fervent supporters into reliable online small donors.
But Trump’s initial foray into email fundraising hasn’t gone quite as planned, and now one of the platforms that was working with the campaign has cut off service.
Late last month, the campaign emailed its entire list for the first time with a fundraising pitch. That email made headlines for reaching Icelandic, Australian, British and Scottish legislators and its high spam rate. Nearly four-in-five emails were caught by spam filters, according to Return Path. “Almost 60 percent of the fundraiser emails from Trump never reached inboxes.”
Since that time, industry estimates have the Trump campaign sending between 30-50 million emails, at times with miserable results.
Adestra, a U.K.-based email service platform, confirmed to C&E that within the last 48 hours it suspended service to Paramount Communication Group, the Beltway-based company working directly with Trump’s digital team who was reselling the platform's services.
“Adestra, a leading global provider of innovative marketing technology software and services, has suspended services to one of its agency clients, which recently sent an email on behalf of the Trump Campaign,” Henry Hyder-Smith, co-founder and CEO of Adestra, said in a statement. “The email in question has raised serious security and legal concerns among Adestra and other industry leaders.”
Hyder-Smith added: “If we believe that a client is misusing the platform or not adhering to the high standards to which Adestra is committed, we may exercise our contractual option to suspend their service from sending email while still allowing them access to our products and their data.”
As a variety of email experts have noted, the campaign’s initial email pitch was particularly problematic because it was sent from a previously unknown domain, triggering lots of spam filters.
Adestra’s move certainly doesn’t leave the Trump campaign without means to send fundraising emails. As is standard practice for Republican campaigns, Trump continues to prospect through rented or shared lists. But the trouble for Trump’s core list from a deliverability standpoint may take longer to solve.
Trump's email program also has a creative issue to resolve. When Trump’s creative first hit a rented list June 28, it received a 0.4 percent bounce-back rate, which is standard. When the Trump campaign provided the next round of creative, the emails were sent a second time to the same list on June 30 and the bounce-back rate was 5.5 percent, which raised a red flag, according to a consultant who rented email lists to the Trump campaign.
"Some lists had bounce rates in excess of 30 percent with that creative," according to the source.
Meanwhile, Paramount, the U.S.-based reseller of Adestra’s platform, had its public facing website hacked on Thursday, the homepage replaced with a black screen that warned “Be careful of your site security! Take it Seriously.” The hacker left this calling card on the page: 000SM000.
Josh Kemp, co-owner of Paramount, played down the hack in an email to C&E. “[O]ur public facing website sits on completely different servers and is in a different data center than our Email Marketing System, which hasn’t had any system events,” he said. “Email Marketing Performance continues to be top notch.”
Kemp declined to comment on Adestra, citing client confidentiality.
The Trump campaign did not respond to requests for comment.