SMS marketing is the single most effective way for political candidates, organizations, and advocacy groups to grow their lists of supporters and raise funds. SMS marketing yields high marketing and fundraising results. Tatango’s political clients with the right political SMS marketing strategy, on average, see a $5 ROI for every $1 they invest in SMS marketing. SMS messages provide a safe space for candidates to have open discussions about important issues and gather donations to help spread the word and reach more supporters; this makes it the ideal communication method for a political campaign.
But a winning political campaign doesn’t happen by chance, and neither does a successful political SMS marketing strategy. This blog post discusses the basic components of SMS marketing and provides examples of text messages your political campaign can use to help kick off your political SMS marketing strategy and ensure you’re on track to win.
Components of a Winning Political SMS Marketing Strategy
Below are a few of the essential components you need to have in place to run a political SMS campaign.
Before you kick off your political SMS marketing campaign, your organization will need to obtain a short code. A short code is a five- or six-digit phone number that allows a political campaign to communicate with its supporters via SMS.
An SMS short code can be a generic short code randomly assigned to your organization; it costs $500 monthly to lease. The second and only other option is a vanity short code chosen specifically by the organization; it costs $1,000 a month to lease.
There are also shared short codes, which are used simultaneously by thousands of organizations. We don’t recommend using a shared short code. It will open your political campaign to potential issues with short code suspension. SMS marketing is heavily regulated (more on that in a moment). One organization’s noncompliance can lead to suspension of the short code for all organizations using it. We recommend a dedicated short code to mitigate any risk of suspension and ensure you can consistently send SMS messages to your constituents.
You can obtain a short code from the U.S. Short Code Administration. It’s the only organization that leases short codes. We recommend you work with your SMS platform provider to lease the short code. It’s the easiest and fastest way to get started.
Another main component of running a successful political SMS marketing campaign is partnering with a political SMS platform. Tatango has been an SMS marketing software provider for political candidates, organizations, and advocacy groups for over 13 years.
Our team of client success managers will work closely with you to help you obtain a short code, set up your campaigns, segment your subscribers, integrate your software with donation platforms, and measure your results.
The Tatango platform is high-performing, secure, and extremely easy to use. The software also provides SMS messaging speeds of 33 times its closest competitor, which is vital in tight races where every vote and donation matters. Choosing the right software is vital if you want to start your political SMS marketing journey on the right foot.
Once you have a platform and a short code, you’re ready to start messaging your subscribers. But you can only legally message those individuals who have given you written consent to message them. So, if you have 1 million phone numbers, but none of those number owners gave you permission to message them, it would be illegal for you to do so.
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is a law that protects consumers against unwanted text messages from organizations. The TCPA requires that organizations obtain permission from recipients before text messaging them. It spells out how organizations must obtain this permission and what organizations are allowed to do after recipients have granted permission. Failing to comply with the TCPA can result in a fine of up to $1,500 per text message.
In addition to the TCPA, an organization called the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA) represents the wireless carriers. The CTIA guidelines contain a lot of detail about text message marketing. They outline what must be included in an advertisement for an SMS program (such as message and data rates, help and stop commands, messaging frequency, links to terms and conditions, and privacy policies) and what can’t be included.
Since the CTIA guidelines aren’t a law, consumers can’t technically sue organizations that violate these guidelines, but these organizations do run the risk of having their SMS program shut down by one or more carriers.
The main thing to remember when starting a successful political SMS marketing campaign in 2021 is that TCPA and CTIA compliance is critical!
Political SMS Marketing Messages That Win
Now that you’re an expert on all the fundamental elements of SMS marketing—which are essential for creating a successful campaign that will yield results—let’s look at some messages your organization can use.
Incentive-Based SMS Messages
Research shows that 58 percent of consumers are more likely to engage in mobile advertising if it includes an offer, deal, or coupon. While your campaign probably can’t offer a coupon the same way a retailer would, you can still offer incentives to make people want to join your list.
The example above is a website pop-up that incentivizes supporters to join a mobile club by offering them exclusive behind-the-scenes photos from the campaign trail. You could also offer campaign merchandise like a free t-shirt, decal sticker, or yard sign—things that your supporters love that also further promote your political campaign.
Fundraising SMS Messages
As we mentioned earlier, on average, our political clients saw an ROI of $5 for every $1 they invested in SMS marketing. Once you’ve enticed your supporters to join your mobile club, ask them to donate!
The example above also incentivizes subscribers to donate by offering them the opportunity to win an exclusive Zoom call with the political candidate.
Tatango integrates with political fundraising technology to provide a simple and easy donation process for supporters. Technology integrations between Tatango and political fundraising platforms create a safe and efficient way for campaigns to gather funds. Currently, Tatango integrates with all political SMS fundraising software and CRMs, such as ActBlue, WinRed, EveryAction, Anedot, NationBuilder, and many others.
Issue-Specific SMS Messages
Data has found that subscribers who received SMS messages with information about a candidate or district-specific issues were 8.2 percent more likely to vote. You can use subscriber data to determine what issues matter most to them and send them messages that will resonate best with their values.
Sending supporters text messages with issues that matter most is a great way to approach your political SMS communication strategy and will yield the most donations, votes, and results.
Value-Based SMS Messages
When sending SMS messages to your supporters, always try to provide some sort of value. Sending voting reminders and links your constituents can use to check their voter status is a great way to provide value.
Research shows that people who responded to text message CTAs were 9.6 percent more likely to vote than those who didn’t respond. Every text helps build your stronghold on a winning election—especially in a close political race.
A Successful Political SMS Strategy Starts With the Right Partnership
Tatango would love to work with you to build a winning political SMS marketing campaign. To help you succeed, we’d like to learn more about your vision and mission and how we can partner to help you spread the word.