Political SMS messages are growing in popularity with every election cycle. Text messages provide an immediate way to connect with voters, keeping supporters up to date and engaged. According to a recent study, 78% of consumers state that texting is the fastest way to reach them. SMS messages also provide direct communication to supporters, avoiding going through a third-party organization. It’s no wonder why political candidates and campaigns have been ramping up their texting efforts in recent years.
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) approved the use of SMS messages for political campaigns in 2012. Since then, texting has become a vital part of many campaign strategies. In October 2020 alone, more than political groups and organizations sent more than 5 billion political SMS messages. While texting is a great way to update subscribers and organize support, one of the key benefits is fundraising. In this blog post, we reveal how today’s top candidates capitalize on SMS donations to widen their lead on competitors and win elections.
How Do Political SMS Donations Work?
Campaigns that use texts to bring in donations usually see a high return on their investment. In fact, for every $1 spent, a campaign typically brings in $5 with Tatango. By working with advanced SMS marketing tools, like those Tatango offers, candidates can add one-click donation links to texts and divide subscriber lists into useful data groups down to zip codes, donations, or interests. This can help when facing local fundraising drives and donation deadlines.
But there are some important rules and guidelines to follow.
TCPA Rules for Political Texting
The world of SMS message marketing is governed by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). If a campaign or a brand sends text messages to a subscriber who has not opted in, the campaign can face fines ranging from $500 to $1,500.
The process to opt out of receiving texts must also be clear and simple. The TCPA, as interpreted and enforced by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), is complex and has evolved over time. This is why political campaigns can benefit from working with TCPA-trained attorneys, as well as Tatango’s experts. Fines can quickly skyrocket when texts are sent to massive subscriber lists.
Download our TCPA Survival Guide for a head start at understanding all that’s involved with the TCPA for political organizations.
SMS Donation Tips
Considering the growing amount of SMS marketing messages in inboxes, your political fundraising texts need to stand out. Here are some useful tips to keep in mind:
1. Make your messages clear and personal. There shouldn’t be any doubt about who is sending the texts and who the intended audience is. A personalized and specific message (e.g. addressing a recipient by their first name) can create more of a connection with the recipient than a generic-sounding text.
2. MMS messages can also be very useful for creating a connection with the recipient. These messages can include up to 5,000 characters (compared to the 160-character limit of SMS texts) and can contain videos, GIFs, and images. Your fundraising efforts can be more effective with messages that stand out and give subscribers clear motivations to donate.
3. When writing political fundraising texts, make sure to stress the urgency of the message. This is vital when voting and fundraising deadlines are approaching. There should be a clear call to action (CTA) in the text and simple links to donate immediately. The open rate for SMS messages is high (99%), but people often skim over texts, so you need to make sure your message is concise and ends with definite next steps for the recipient.
4. Finally, take advantage of the data and tools provided by an industry-leading text messaging platform, like Tatango. Subscriber lists may be in the millions, especially for larger campaigns. Blanket messages sent to everyone are less effective than texts sent to specific zip codes, demographics, or groups of supporters. With the help of advanced analytical tools from Tatango, your donation links can reach the right people when it matters most to fundraising deadlines, voter registration, or an entire election.
Examples of Political Donation Texts
Now that we’ve looked at the best practices for campaign fundraising messages let’s examine some recent examples.
Here is one from Joe Biden’s campaign leading up to the 2020 Presidential election:
See here how Biden’s campaign focuses on being direct and personal, framing the message as coming from Joe himself (first name only). The language is clear with repeated statements of urgency and a call to action for donations.
The text is also broken up and spaced out, whereas a single paragraph would cause many people to glance over the wall of text. This message would benefit from images or other forms of media that would stand out from the text. Still, overall, it’s simple and focuses on the upcoming timeline, which is a great idea when the election date is closing in.
Let’s take a look at a message from the Trump campaign around the same time:
In comparison, these texts are shorter and simpler. The SMS messages are direct and urgent, reminding subscribers about previous texts and calls for donations. The paragraphs are not broken up. Instead, they use capitalization to draw the eye of the reader. There are obvious donation links to follow, which stand out nicely.
SMS Fundraising Sample Message
When planning an effective texting donation strategy, aim for messages that are easy to understand with clear next steps and avoid being too repetitive.
By changing writing styles and keeping the text concise, political fundraising texts can be very effective. Each candidate can add their personal touch to the language, like Biden referring to himself as “Joe” or Trump’s team mentioning his family members. In the end, varied and clear messages will be the most effective, getting through to subscribers and encouraging donations.
Work with Political SMS Donation Experts
If you’re interested in setting up a political SMS campaign, Tatango can help you navigate these complicated issues and get your campaign up and running smoothly. Contact our team of experts today—we’ll help set you up for success.