Political SMS Marketing

How Michele Bachmann DIDN’T Win the Presidency Using SMS Marketing

Political SMS Case Study How Michele Bachmann DIDN'T Win the Presidency Using SMS Marketing
Looking back on 2012 feels like a lifetime ago. A lot has happened since then, especially in the world of SMS mobile marketing. But back in 2012, it wasn’t common for campaigns to use mobile marketing as part of their communication strategy. (They certainly didn’t have easy access to our blog post offering tips for writing winning political text messages.) What now seems standard practice in mobile marketing was once uncharted territory. In 2012, after learning of the success of Tatango clients like Scott Brown, then-presidential candidate Michele Bachmann launched her first political SMS campaign.

Unfortunately for Bachmann, we have almost a decade of hindsight to help us understand why her campaign didn’t result in a presidential nomination. Still, we’re giving credit where credit is due: our hats off to you, Michele Bachmann, for being the first.

As any trailblazer of newer technology, the Bachmann campaign is a great case study of the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to the do’s and don’ts of mobile marketing. With our eyes on 2022, we’re taking a deep dive into the Bachmann presidential campaign’s SMS mobile marketing and how future candidates can learn from it.


An Analysis of Michele Bachmann’s Political SMS Mobile Marketing Campaign

The Good

Political SMS Case Study How Michele Bachmann DIDN'T Win the Presidency Using SMS Marketing

Here’s what worked well in Michele Bachmann’s campaign.

1. Front-and-Center Exposure on Her Website

There’s one sure-fire way to gain SMS mobile marketing subscribers, and that’s by ensuring people are aware of your texting program and making it easy for them to sign up. By placing the sign-up information front and center on the campaign website, Bachmann capitalized on an audience already interested in her presidential journey. A website is essentially someone’s home base on the internet, and it’s likely one of the first places someone will visit when searching for more information. So this was a great use of that space. Unfortunately, there were some issues. Keep reading to learn more.


2. Correct Usage of SMS Functions

This one’s pretty big, especially because Bachmann was the first candidate to add SMS mobile marketing to her campaign. Her team correctly implemented all the necessary mobile-oriented (MO) functions when sending out SMS messages, including HELP, STOP, STOP ALL, QUIT, and UNSUBSCRIBE options. In addition, these functions all returned the correct mobile-terminated (MT) messages required by all mobile carriers. (Learn the difference between MO and MT.)


3. Claimed All Misspellings

Quick! Without scrolling up, do you know how to spell Bachmann’s first name? Is it one L or two? There’s a 50-50 chance you got it right, but it wouldn’t even matter because Michele’s team (note the single L) claimed both spellings as mobile keywords for supporters to send when signing up for her mobile marketing. Their number would be stored and added to the campaign, whether they sent the “MICHELE” or “MICHELLE” shortcode to opt-in. Looking back, this seems like a no-brainer, but back in 2012, it was pure genius!

Now, is there one N or two in her last name…?


The Bad

Political SMS Case Study How Michele Bachmann DIDN'T Win the Presidency Using SMS Marketing

The following is where Bachmann could’ve improved her campaign.

1. No Social Media Presence

While we praise the Bachmann team for featuring their mobile marketing campaign on the website’s front page, unfortunately, that’s as far as it went. There was no further exposure on her other social media networks, like Facebook or Twitter. Social media is pretty much free media, and it’s a shame to see it go underutilized in such a significant way.

We’re positive the Bachmann campaign would’ve seen a substantial uptick in subscribers to their mobile marketing with a bit of social media promotion. You’ll find a good example of this on political candidate Scott Brown’s Twitter profile, where he promoted his SMS mobile marketing campaign to his followers.


2. Missing Mobile Marketing Association’s U.S. Best Practices Requirements—Msg&Data Rates May Apply

You’re likely to have seen this one in the wild before. The Mobile Marketing Association’s U.S. best practices require that all mobile advertising include the disclaimer “Msg&Data Rates May Apply” (see section 1.2-4). This crucial verbiage is missing on Bachmann’s website.


3. Missing Mobile Marketing Association’s U.S. Best Practices Requirements — Opting-Out

Another requirement of the Mobile Marketing Association’s U.S. best practices for all recurring SMS mobile marketing campaigns focuses on a recipient’s ability to cancel or opt out of an SMS mobile marketing campaign (see section 1.2-4). Something as simple as “Opt out at any time by texting STOP to 21824” would have fixed this issue. However, it’s missing on Bachmann’s website and in the SMS messages themselves.

Not only is this a violation of the requirement, but it’s also a very quick way to put off potential subscribers. As with anyone’s time or money (see above: message and data rates may apply), you have to watch out for inadvertently holding people hostage to your marketing efforts.


4. Technical Bug In Mobile-Orienting

In testing the Bachmann SMS mobile marketing campaign, we noticed the mobile-oriented (MO) option “CANCEL” didn’t return the appropriate mobile-terminated (MT) response, a requirement by all mobile phone carriers. This was likely a technical bug that should have been fixed to avoid any additional issues.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) has strict rules for any automated marketing campaigns and issues hefty fines to those who break the rules. (To learn more, download our guide to TCPA compliance.)


The Final Score

As you can see now, while Bachmann’s team was ahead of the game in 2012, her SMS mobile marketing campaign fell short in some big ways. It earns a solid B+ from our Tatango analysis and could have easily made the jump to A+ had they addressed the concerns mentioned in this blog post. If you’re interested in joining Bachmann’s SMS mobile marketing campaign, text MICHELE to 21824 (or MICHELLE, because she’s got that covered, too 😉)


Add Tatango to Your 2022 Campaign’s Mobile Marketing

If you’re running for public office at the local or national level, and you’re ready to jump into the world of mobile marketing, or if you have any questions, contact the text message marketing experts at Tatango today.

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