If the 2020 political climate showed us anything, it’s that text messaging marketing proved to be the most effective way for political campaigns to reach their supporters. Most successful politicians have identified that their supporters prefer text messages over any other modern communication method. This blog post provides everything you need to know about what political text messaging is, what its benefits are, and types you can choose from to set up a winning strategy for your political text messaging campaign in 2022.
What Is a Political Text Message?
Political text messages are text messages sent to supporters who have opted in or given consent to receive messages from political campaigns. These messages are often related to what’s going on in the election cycle. For instance, information about volunteer opportunities, donation updates, and reminders about early voting dates are all potential messages that supporters would subscribe to receive.
How Do I Legally Send Political Text Messages?
In 1991, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) enacted the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The FCC sought to protect consumers from unwanted telemarketing phone calls. The TCPA governs all telemarketing interactions, including phone calls, faxes, robocalls, and text messages. The TCPA requires solicitors, including politicians, to gain prior expressed consent from consumers before contacting them. Failure to comply could result in fines ranging from $500 to $1,500 per call or message sent.
In addition to the TCPA, political campaigns should also familiarize themselves with the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA), which represents wireless carriers. The CTIA guidelines outline what advertisements for SMS messages must include. According to these guidelines, advertisements must include information such as data rates, where to access privacy policies and terms and conditions, and instructions for consumers to receive help or stop messages altogether. CTIA guidelines are not law, but political campaigns are at risk of being shut down by wireless carriers if they don’t follow these guidelines.
Keeping up with the demands of running an effective political campaign can feel like spinning plates. TCPA and CTIA guidelines constantly evolve as new case laws and new communication technologies are introduced to the masses. That’s why our political SMS messaging experts have created free downloadable resources and videos to help keep your campaign in compliance. The TCPA Survival Guide offers 62 pages of essential information for any text message marketer. It includes topics such as:
- The first thing to do if you’re sued for TCPA text message violations
- The implications of class-action cases
- How to figure out the highest possible litigation exposure
- Whether going to trial is worth it
Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the legalities of sending compliant messages, consider downloading Tatango’s Recurring Message Programs TCPA & CTIA compliance templates. These templates help your political text messaging campaign streamline your recurring messages and ensure your campaign stays protected against costly lawsuits.
Where to Begin Building a Political SMS Campaign
There are a few critical components of any political SMS campaign.
Partnering with a reliable SMS platform is key to running a successful political SMS marketing campaign. Tatango has 14 years of experience supporting top political campaigns. When you partner with us, all you have to do is log in to your account to manage your political campaign from end to end. Our platform is easy to use, secure, and cost-beneficial. Tatango clients report an average ROI of 500%.
To start your campaign off right, you’ll need to obtain a short code. A short code is a five- or six-digit phone number that political campaigns use to communicate with supporters through SMS messaging. You can obtain a short code from the U.S. Short Code Administration or lease one from your SMS platform provider. Tatango can help you with that and handle the entire short code provisioning process for you.
There are four main types of short codes: generic, vanity, shared, and dedicated. Generic short codes are assigned to your campaign at random. At $500 per month, they cost less than vanity short codes, which cost $1,000 per month. Vanity codes are more expensive to lease because they’re customizable and often easier for subscribers to remember.
Shared short codes are used by multiple companies and organizations simultaneously. A political campaign shouldn’t use a shared short code because of the strict regulations on SMS marketing. For example, if your campaign is using a shared code, and another campaign or organization violates regulations, the short code may get suspended at a pivotal time for your campaign—for reasons beyond your campaign’s control. With a dedicated short code, your campaign retains autonomy over the messages sent.
In addition to a short code, you’ll want to choose a keyword for your campaigns. People text your keyword to your short code phone number to opt in to your texting program. For example, people could text “VOTE” to 12345. You can customize your keywords to be specific to your campaign, such as “RED”, “BLUE”, or “WIN”.
Benefits of Political Text Messaging
Text message marketing is not only the most preferred communication method among consumers, but it’s also the most effective way to communicate with supporters. Statistics show that text message marketing boasts an impressive 99% open rate, significantly higher than the 20% open rate for email marketing.
Tech for Campaign’s 2020 Political Texting Report compiled a comprehensive list of research and statistics showing how SMS text messaging campaigns impacted voter turnout.
- According to Robokiller, Americans received an estimated 11.6 billion political messages in the last three months of the 2020 election.
- Texting swing voters information about voting increased their voting rate by 1.8 percentage points, which is enough to swing an entire election as we’ve seen in recent years.
- Registered voters who responded positively to text messages had a higher turnout rate than those who didn’t respond or who opted out of future messages.
Studies show that text messaging is also a powerful tool to impact fundraising efforts. Political campaigns that use Tatango raised more than $400 million in donations. Tatango’s platform is the most reliable when it comes to text message political fundraising because we integrate with all major fundraising platforms. People can donate from your text messages in just a few clicks, without having to deal with complicated online donation portals that reduce the likelihood of a donation.
Types of Text Messages
Politicians and organizations that want to send political text messages can use various types of messages to communicate with their supporters. The two main buckets include:
Short Messaging Service (SMS Messages)
An SMS message is a message that a political campaign or organization can send utilizing an SMS marketing platform, so long as it abides by the rules and guidelines established by the TCPA and CTIA. An SMS message can contain up to 160 characters, including text, emojis, clickable phone numbers, and hyperlinks, keeping in mind that the hyperlink counts toward the character limit.
Political campaigns may choose SMS messaging when they have shorter messages to send that don’t require much explanation. But for messages that need more space or that include media content, political campaigns would need to send an MMS message instead.
Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS Messages)
MMS text messages allow political campaigns and organizations to send various media content to subscribers, including video, sound files, images, multiple contacts, or GIFs. With additional media functionality, MMS messages also allow organizations to send up to 5,000 characters.
Political campaigns may choose MMS messaging for a lengthier messages. Additionally, if a political organization wants to include an eye-catching graphic, an MMS message is the way to go.
Why Political Candidates Use Text Messages
Political candidates and political organizations use a wide range of tactics to communicate with their audiences. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, political candidates continued to send printed mail and relied on volunteers to canvas door to door and make calls. But there has also been an increased investment in digital methods such as SMS messages sent using text messaging platform, Facebook advertising, and email.
This year in particular, we’ve seen an increase in political text messaging. Text marketing is a great way to communicate with supporters, and there’s data to back it up. SMS marketing messages have a 99% read and open rate! And, 90% of SMS messages are read within three minutes of being sent. It’s no wonder so many political campaigns are utilizing SMS messaging. Here are just some of the ways they’re turning to texting.
Most Popular Types of Political Text Messages
Below are a few of the most popular types of political text messages. To swipe our proven text message templates, check out our free guide: 5 Proven Text Message Templates That You Can Copy, Paste, and Send to Win Elections.
Research shows text message marketing is the preferred way to keep supporters in the loop about what’s going on with a campaign. Successful political campaigns know even their most active supporters benefit from occasional reminders. Send SMS reminders to constituents when voter registration deadlines are approaching to ensure your political candidate wins the majority vote.
Consider segmenting your subscriber list to include the nearest polling stations to individuals in specific locations down to the zip code in personalized messages. Got a special event coming up on the calendar? Send an invitation in a text message that includes a registration link and send event reminders to supporters on your RSVP list. Your supporters want to know when, where, and how to support you. Sending occasional reminders can help you win the race.
Fundraising and Donations
Political campaigns are inherently expensive. The 2020 election was the most expensive election on record, totaling $14.4 billion. Candidates incur considerable expenses to stay in the race. These expenses include things like advertising, travel budgets, and staff salaries, to name a few. Fundraising is an essential part of running a successful campaign. Studies show the candidates who’ve cracked the fundraising code are often the ones who win the race.
If you’re looking to increase funding, let your supporters know. Small donations made up 22% of all election funds in 2020. Capitalize on this upward trend by reaching out to your subscribers and asking them to donate to your campaign. Craft a solid call to action that includes the exact amount you need. Every dollar makes a difference.
Personal Thank-You Messages
Send text messages that express gratitude to your supporters. After all, who doesn’t love hearing “thank you?” According to a survey by Mitto, 50% of the individuals who responded to the survey stated they enjoyed receiving thank-you text messages from political campaigns. Send a thank-you message to every donor (no matter the amount they gave), volunteers, and anyone who provides an act of service for your political campaign.
Be sure to personalize the message as much as possible, starting with using the supporter’s first name. SMS personalization ensures your campaign will stand out among other contenders.
Many events take place around an election cycle, a presidential election, and local elections. When sending political text messages utilizing an SMS marketing platform, a campaign or organization can segment subscribers into volunteers, general supporters, and donors. Segmentation makes it easier to send event alerts to volunteers with instructions on where and when to arrive. As mentioned earlier, MMS messages are better suited for lengthy messages such as these, so there’s more space to craft your thoughts. A political text message informing a group of volunteers about the proceedings of an event is a perfect example of an MMS message.
For those just attending an event, the message may be a simple reminder with a link. In that case, an SMS message is more suitable. Additionally, with a text messaging platform it’s possible to send text messages based on actions. For example, if a voter registers for an event, they will receive a reminder to attend. If they didn’t register, they could receive several reminders to do so.
Many times throughout a political campaign when information needs to get out as soon as possible, SMS messaging is the best way to go. Often, when email goes out from an email marketing tool, those messages end up in a spam folder. But when a political text message goes out from an SMS marketing platform, there’s no way it will end up in a spam text folder because such a folder doesn’t exist. All text messages—SMS, MMS, and P2P—arrive in the same inbox.
As we shared earlier, 90% of SMS messages are opened within three minutes of being sent. For a fast-moving campaign that may need to gather staff and volunteers quickly, SMS messaging gets the job done!
Volunteers are the lifeblood of any political campaign, regardless of political party affiliation. They play a huge role in encouraging potential voters, younger voters, and overall voter turnout. Text messaging is one of the best ways to enlist volunteers. It’s an easy process. Anyone interested in volunteering simply provides their mobile phone number, and they’ll be signed up to volunteer.
Your SMS subscriber list is a great place to start when soliciting volunteers. As long as your subscribers gave consent, your political campaign won’t be at risk of sending spam texts.
Political campaigns strongly rely on surveys to help determine the consensus of the population. Although email and social media are also popular for sending survey requests, SMS messages are particularly useful in this regard. SMS software allows you to segment your subscribers to get the perspective of specific groups such as undecided voters and younger voters. SMS messages go directly to the subscriber’s cell phone number, unlike emails which often go into the recipient’s spam folder.
Why Candidates Win Using Tatango’s Political SMS Marketing Software
A significant factor in the success of a political campaign is its ability to communicate effectively with potential voters. This is why choosing the right political SMS marketing software to quickly and easily send text messages is vital to a campaign.
In a recent study conducted internally by Tatango, we discovered that for every dollar invested in building and operating a texting program, campaigns net $5 in donations on average. We at Tatango strive to ensure that our political campaign clients meet the unique goals of their political campaigns. Whether your SMS marketing campaign focuses on fundraising, getting out the vote, engaging with supporters, or organizing volunteers, Tatango’s platform helps political campaigns win. Tatango offers easy-to-use software and industry expertise to help political campaigns solve their SMS marketing challenges.
Some features that set Tatango apart from other text message marketing companies include:
- Segmentation: Tatango’s subscriber segmentation allows campaigns to create and send highly optimized messaging to custom subscriber segments.
- Messaging workflows: With our platform campaigns can create virtually any messaging workflow without any coding knowledge or experience.
- Analytics: Gain insights and visually display subscriber data trends with our easy-to-use responsive graphing tools.
- Merge tags: Personalize each text message using merge tags. For example, include a subscriber’s first name in each mass text message.
- ROI: Recall that in a recent internal study, we found that for every dollar invested in building and operating a texting program, campaigns net $5 in donations on average.
We’d love to hear about your organization’s communications goals and share with you how the Tatango SMS marketing software can help. Talk to a text messaging expert today.
Are You Ready to Create Your Political SMS Campaign?
Studies show text message marketing in political campaigns is here to stay. If you’re ready to create a political SMS strategy, get in touch with our team of experts. We have over 14 years of experience supporting some of the most recent successful political campaigns, and we’re here to help you succeed!