Text message marketing is one of the most effective fundraising strategies available. Many Tatango clients see $5 in donations for every $1 invested in SMS marketing.
However, whether on a national or local scale, launching and running a political SMS messaging campaign can quickly get overwhelming. You must consider many factors and keep in mind several strategies. Knowing when to launch is vital, but so is knowing how to take advantage of opportunities for fundraising and growing your base.
This article breaks down three critical components needed for effective political texting, so your team is set up for success as the first messages go out.
Why Should You Use Political SMS Messages?
It’s easy for voters to feel bombarded with political messages through TV ads, radio, email, yard signs, and other advertising. So much political advertising is generalized and designed to reach a broad audience.
This abundance of political messaging can make campaign marketing easy to ignore or get overlooked. Many people drive past billboards without paying attention and let political emails pile up and sit unread up in their junk folder. These attempts to reach as many people as possible tend to make campaign messaging feel shallow and unfocused, failing to create a strong connection with voters. That’s why many campaigns use a more direct form of communication with voters and donors: SMS messaging.
How Political Texting Compares to Traditional Advertising
Your campaign funding can only go so far, so it’s vital to invest your marketing dollars carefully. Political campaigns with the best return on investment (ROI) will outlast their competitors and reach more people. Compared to emails, the difference in your ROI with text messaging is clear. Only 20% of political emails are opened compared to 98% of campaign SMS messages. In fact, many people say texting is the best way to reach them. It’s what 78% of voters say they prefer, which is why text messaging is becoming integral to candidates’ outreach and fundraising plans.
Compared to traditional marketing methods like lawn signs, billboards, or flyers, SMS marketing is measurable. You can measure how many opens, clicks, and donations each message receives, helping you optimize your text messaging strategy.
Additionally, you can segment your subscribers based on zip code, city, state, and even donation history. This helps your messages feel personal and relevant, and increases the likelihood of subscribers donating to the causes and candidates they care about.
Components of a Successful SMS Campaign
If you want to increase donations, motivate people to vote, send links to campaign statements, and more, SMS marketing is the way to go. But as you start your texting push, it’s important to know when your campaign is ready. Let’s look at three key components of a successful political texting strategy.
Short Codes and Keywords
SMS campaigns need a strong subscriber list. However, they can only send messages to supporters who have opted in to the list. Otherwise, they’ll face some hefty fines.
Campaigns can use either 10-digit long-code phone numbers (10DLC) or short codes. Short codes are five or six digits long and can be customized so they’re easier to remember. Voters can opt in to a political campaign’s text message subscriber list by texting a keyword (a single word or short phrase) to the campaign’s short code—for example, texting “VOTE NOW” to 12345.
You can also easily integrate short codes with your current website and donation platform, so as soon as someone fills out a web form, makes a donation, or purchases campaign merchandise from your website, their mobile phone number automatically syncs with your text messaging program.
Candidates and politicians can quickly grow their subscriber lists using simple keywords and short codes. Building a list of opted-in subscribers is essential for getting an SMS marketing campaign off the ground and in the race.
Texting is one of the best ways to raise money. With SMS messages, campaigns can send out simple links for donations, removing many barriers that often keep people from donating. Voters might not follow up if they need to go to a website or mail in a check. But tapping on a link in a text message to donate is as easy as it gets.
Tatango partners with innovative and easy-to-use fundraising platforms like ActBlue and WinRed. These integrations simplify every step for your team and help bring in donations when you need them most. Texts can also help you follow up with donors and send them thank-you messages and fundraising updates. These messages help ensure subscribers stay invested and involved and can even lead to their continued support. Even the best candidates need funding to ensure their message is heard. Once you’ve linked your campaign texts with a top-tier fundraising platform, you’re ready to go.
Understanding Your Subscriber List
Segmenting your subscriber list will help you better understand your supporters. Gathering subscribers’ zip codes and other information helps your campaign target specific areas and see the greatest results for voting and donation deadlines. This data can also be vital when voters are gathering or organizing. Narrow down your SMS lists to local supporters and volunteers and send them reminders and encouragements about specific events in their area.
Focusing your efforts and resources is vital, especially in close races. Make sure your strategy includes asking questions and understanding who your supporters are and what they care about most. Use this data responsibly and store it securely. Establishing trust with supporters by being transparent about how their data is stored and used will help strengthen your campaign’s foundation.
Starting Your SMS Campaign
Check these three steps when planning your next texting campaign. If your team is well prepared and is working with an experienced partner like Tatango, SMS messaging will be one of the strongest assets in your political strategy.
Political texting isn’t just a tool for one type of campaign. Candidates in races of every size across the country can immediately benefit from this direct form of communication.