During political campaigns or movements, organizers are always looking to increase support and connect with more people. It doesn’t matter how charismatic or informed a potential politician is if their campaign fails to advertise well. Here’s where political advertising comes in, reaching out through mass communication methods to promote candidates, elections, and issues.
With cell phones and smartwatches connecting instantaneously around the world these days, political advertising campaigns are needed to communicate clearly and efficiently at all times, thereby increasing donations, awareness, and votes for political campaigns.
Five Effective Political Advertising Methods
Strategies for political advertising are constantly changing as voters’ attention shifts to new forms of media, news, and entertainment. Let’s look at five of the most effective advertising methods campaigns are using today.
1. TV and Online Videos
TV and online videos can reach mass audiences of all ages, providing candidates with platforms to speak directly to viewers. The same ads can run on TV or gain traction on YouTube. With well-made videos, candidates can take full advantage of the medium and capture their audience’s full attention. With TV spots, in particular, the number of political ads doubled from 2016 to 2020.
2. Radio and Podcasts
Whether people listen during a commute, at the gym, or while running errands, audio interviews are as popular as ever. They can be a great platform for long-form conversations where candidates can explain their positions and core ideals—without having to sum things up for a 90-second TV ad or an even shorter sound bite.
3. Social Media
Candidates can easily share posts and messages through social media platforms, potentially reaching new voters while connecting with supporters. With political news cycles moving faster than ever, speaking to their base on social media is very valuable.
It’s estimated that federal campaigns spent over a billion dollars on social media ads in 2020. With so many political discussions taking place on social media, many candidates and politicians are using these platforms to spread their message and engage in debate.
4. Billboards and Signs
While billboards and signs may not be as high tech as other methods, they’re still very popular advertising methods. A campaign can express its core image or ideals in simple terms, giving supporters tangible ways to promote their favorite candidate. Slogans on bumper stickers and yard signs serve as real-world evidence for growing support and momentum and help campaigns zero in on their intended mission statement.
5. SMS Messages
Political texts are an increasingly important method of communication for campaigns. In October of 2020 alone, over 5 billion political texts went out. As one of the most direct forms of political advertising, SMS text messages are vital to many campaign strategies. For most of this nation’s history, candidates had no way of reaching out to supporters individually, let alone be able to do so instantly. Political texting is even more effective for helping supporters feel personally connected with and in the know about an upcoming election or issue.
Political SMS Message Marketing
Because political SMS messaging is a swiftly growing part of modern campaigns—and our area of expertise at Tatango—let’s take a closer look at the thinking behind the texts.
Text messages can pierce through someone’s bubble, getting past the over-saturation of political TV ads or social media posts. Through direct contact with supporters, campaigns can avoid the political spin from opponents and some sectors of the media. Instead of relying on press conferences to announce changes and voting deadlines, campaigns can use SMS messages to reach supporters and volunteers instantly. For many people, receiving updates directly from candidates and organizations is preferable to relying on secondary sources.
This direct connection can also help boost fundraising and donations. Clear and concise texts, with integration for one-click donation, can be a great way to fundraise. Supporters shouldn’t have to research how to donate or feel deterred and turn back after landing on a complicated online donation form. SMS donations can be quick and easy, strengthening a campaign while connecting with supporters.
Political texts work well in tandem with other forms of media. A short code (a five- or six-digit phone number used for mass marketing messages) and a memorable keyword can work well on a billboard or at the end of an ad. Many types of political ads, like TV or radio, don’t provide easy ways for a campaign to obtain feedback from the audience. However, supporters can easily text a campaign directly.
Text messaging is also an excellent way for campaign strategists to gather useful analytics and data. Having subscribers send keywords, such as their state or group affiliation, can help political campaigns better understand their base. This additional information is beneficial when a campaign needs to focus on specific regions and local votes or wants to hone its strategy and make every donation go further.
Tips for Political SMS Messaging
As you move forward with your political texting campaign, keep these tips in mind.
Clear messages are best. If someone is glancing down at a text message, they should be able to digest it quickly. Confusing or poorly worded texts may dissuade a supporter from reading messages from that campaign in the future. This isn’t the medium for detailed policy platform explanations. Choose the most urgent updates or news to share, then structure your message for clarity above all.
A call to action is vital. A subscriber should never feel lost or helpless after receiving a text. Suggest what next step they should take, whether that’s to remember to vote or click a link to make a donation or sign a petition. Supporters should feel empowered.
Make the donation process as smooth as possible. It’s up to the campaign organizers to streamline donations and fundraising so the available options are always simple and clear when someone wants to support a campaign financially. Reputable SMS providers, like Tatango, provide options for one-click donations.
Finally, successful campaigns must operate within the boundaries of the law. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) governs text and phone marketing. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) interprets and implements TCPA laws, and the definitions and rules have shifted and evolved over time.
Lawsuits and fines for TCPA violations range from $500 to $1,500 per text message if a supporter did not opt in properly. Examining how the TCPA is currently applied and interpreted is vital. Campaigns should always work with TCPA-trained attorneys before beginning a large-scale SMS campaign.
Next Steps for Political SMS Advertising
Political advertising has a massive effect on our country and plays a significant role in shaping how political narratives change over time. Promising campaigns can fizzle out with poor marketing strategies, while smart political advertising can work wonders for a candidate’s success.
Want to learn more? Contact the experts at Tatango. With our knowledge and experience, we can help navigate the TCPA and get your message out to millions.