The shift to embracing a more modern media mix around the campaign trail is readily apparent. Across the board, we see SMS marketing leading to larger donations, reaching more potential voters, and impacting the way constituents vote. In a 2018 Get Out The Vote (GOTV) Texting Report from Tech for Campaigns, people who received a text about voting were 1% more likely to turn out to vote. This may not seem like a lot, but it is enough to make a difference in an election.
Especially given close races where time is of the essence, at Tatango, we sampled two million texts and found that 54% of clicks occurred within just five minutes of receiving a text, 81% occurred in 45 minutes, and a full 95% occurred within two hours. That can mean the difference between reaching a fundraising—or voting—deadline… or not.
Whether your campaign is looking to use political campaign SMS marketing software to win elections, or looking for fresh ideas to differentiate your political campaign texting efforts from your competitors, keep reading.
How SMS Messaging Can Accelerate Your Political Campaigns
Below are the top ways we see political campaign software helping candidates.
In 2012, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) announced that a political party campaign could collect campaign contributions using political text message marketing. Since then, it has drastically changed the way political campaigns raise funds. We’ve seen an increase in examples from both parties—it’s safe to say that both Democratic campaigns and Republican campaigns have wholly embraced using text messaging in this manner.
Compared to traditional fundraising methods such as a campaign event, sweepstakes, or auction, contributions via a text marketing campaign have proven to be one of the most effective methods. 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. Given an ROI that high and the competitiveness of the campaign trail, you’re one step behind if you aren’t utilizing political text marketing as part of your grassroots efforts.
How Can You Fundraise Through Text Messaging?
One of the main methods of text message fundraising is to use the communication channel to funnel your supporters to a donation page. An effective fundraising text message should contain these three elements:
A clear and compelling message
Create a compelling message that incorporates your campaign’s messaging, language, and issues that your supporters respond to best.
An easily clickable link to your donation page.
Tatango automatically shortens your links so they take up less space and look cleaner.
A powerful call to action.
A powerful call to action creates a sense of urgency to act. Use strong verbs and time qualifiers like Act Now, Donate Now, or Vote Today.
Sending your supporters a concise message that urges them to take action and donate takes advantage of the higher open and click-through rates of SMS marketing, netting you additional donations.
Additionally, it’s important to remember that your donation page will be viewed on mobile phones. Using highly-optimized and mobile-responsive donation management platforms effectively increases landing page conversion rates and net donation amounts. (Tatango integrates with all major political fundraising donation platforms so our experts can get you set up right away.)
As mentioned previously, we’ve found that on average, for every dollar invested in building and operating a text program, political candidates net $5 in donations. In the case that a supporter doesn’t click through and donate when they initially receive the message, the existing text message still serves as a reminder for the future.
Campaign Fundraising Rules and Guidelines
As with anything involving donations, there are rules and regulations campaigns need to follow according to the wireless carriers.
For a full list of guidelines visit our article, Political Campaign Text Message Donations—What You Need To Know.
For now, here are the top five rules to consider:
- Political campaigns can only provision SMS short codes for use here in the United States, which means there can be no foreign contributions.
- A contract between an SMS provider and a political candidate or committee must include special provisions requiring compliance with the FEC requirements.
- Each political candidate or committee must be registered and be in good standing with the FEC and relevant state authorities to collect donations via text message.
- Each political candidate or committee must receive donations through a single SMS short code per election. This means that candidates can’t switch short codes mid-election or operate multiple SMS short codes.
- Each text message confirmation must include a hyperlink to a mobile webpage that includes the unabbreviated attestation. The mobile web page should also explain terms such as “foreign national” and “federal contractor.”
Get Out The Vote (GOTV)
Text messaging has emerged as one of the most powerful and affordable tools for driving votes. Research conducted by Tech for Campaigns found that people contacted via text were 1% more likely to vote. While that may not seem like a lot, that can make all the difference in a close race. This same study found that people who received information about issues unique to the candidate or the district were 8.2% more likely to vote, and people who responded to texts were 9.6% more likely to vote. On Election Day (or when early voting begins or ballots are mailed), text messaging is your direct line to supporters.
Campaign and Candidate Engagement
It’s crucially important to create an effective way to engage with your supporters about campaign, event, and polling updates, along with other important information. Among other channels such as social networks and email marketing, text messaging serves as an unfiltered and direct way to communicate with your supporters. By establishing text messaging as the primary channel for a candidate’s information, a candidate can use that to incentivize users to subscribe to their text message program.
Campaign and candidate engagement can include:
- Personalized and exclusive campaign information
- Polling supports about issues
- Donation contribution thank you’s
- Voter registration information
- Important voter deadlines
Volunteer Outreach and Management
Use mobile marketing to recruit new volunteers from your most engaged supporters by sending them timely, targeted volunteer opportunities or information about upcoming events. With SMS, you reach supporters immediately and drive them directly to the information they need—without the distractions presented by social platforms. Collecting information about a subscriber’s location enables your campaign to send messages about nearby volunteer opportunities and events, leading to higher response rates.
3 Components of Launching a Political Text Messaging Campaign
Before launching your political text messaging campaign, its essential to identify the core components that lead to launching a successful campaign. We outline what we consider three crucial components below.
1. Grow a High-Quality SMS Subscriber List
Building and growing a high-quality subscriber list is one of the most important things a campaign should focus on. As a subscriber list is a core function of sending bulk SMS messages, the quality of a campaign’s subscriber list is directly tied to the quality of donations, voter outreach engagement, and a text program’s success.
Application-to-Person Political Text Messaging
Tatango is an A2P messaging platform, which means it can send mass text messages—one text message to many people at once, over an application. Tatango can send 100,000 texts per minute.
In this A2P world of opt-in or permission-based SMS marketing, an SMS subscriber list is a list of supporters who have opted in to a text message program. In other words, supporters have given a campaign consent to send them recurring text messages to their mobile phones.
The opt-in can take place in various forms. The most common is opting in via a keyword. For example, a supporter might text the keyword “VOTE” to the short code “12345” to join the SMS campaign and receive periodic auto-dialed text messages to their phone. Due to the nature of permission-based political text messaging, earning a supporter’s permission via an opt-in will result in better conversion rates and higher click-through rates. In the context of fundraising, this directly translates to more donations and actions taken.
At Tatango, we always recommend receiving a subscriber’s consent and permission to text message them, and always providing subscribers an easy way to opt out of the program should they choose to.
Person-to-Person Political Text Messaging
Person-to-person (P2P) texting consists of campaign volunteers or staffers manually texting supporters. Both systems have their place in a political mobile marketing strategy. A2P messaging provides an efficient, cost-effective, instantaneous way to reach millions of subscribers. P2P messaging can add a personal touch by sending follow-ups manually, one at a time.
2. Integrate Text Message Campaign Into Donation Platform
Text messaging is one of the most effective ways to fundraise, so it’s essential that a campaign establishes and integrates its text messaging program into its donation platform. Integrating a campaign’s text program and donation platform gives a campaign the ability to leverage donation information and pinpoint messaging to optimize fundraising amounts. Without integration, a campaign won’t be able to act on gathered data and ultimately won’t optimize their text messaging efforts to the fullest. Tatango offers several donation platform integrations.
3. Collect Voter Data for Segmentation
It’s also important to build your opt-in list while collecting the information you’ll need to segment text messages.
Segmentation is essential to avoid fatiguing your list, as well as to provide relevant calls to action to supporters and voter databases. In addition to the supporter’s name, mobile number, and permission, aim to collect their email address and ZIP code. You can do this through your signup form or as an automated series of welcome messages asking for their input.
The ZIP code gives you information to target based on location, which is especially helpful for event turnout or recruiting volunteers to a specific opportunity. Having their email address enables you to match the supporter back to other online activities (such as their donor history) to tailor your asks appropriately.
How To Write Political Text Messages That Win
Now that you understand the objectives that texting can help your campaign with, and the components of launching a successful political texting campaign, let’s discuss how to write political text messages that win.
Due to the nature of text messages, you need to be concise and effective. With only 160 characters in SMS messages, you must focus on crafting a message with a limited amount of screen space that communicates who you are, the reason for sending the message, and the action needed from your supporters. When creating your messages, consider your supporters; they will most likely only take a few seconds to open and read your messages. Unlike social media, email, and other channels, text messaging is a direct channel to your supporters; that being said, campaigns still have to compete for their attention.
Humanize Your Message
As with other digital marketing efforts like email and social media, adding a human element to your election campaign is advantageous. In a political setting, this is especially important in election campaigns, as the candidate is the “product” that the campaign is centered around. The better your campaign can humanize your messaging, the more your supporters feel like they have a personal connection to their candidate.
Tip: Use Tatango’s merge tags to incorporate subscriber names into the text message copy.
A major part of using text messaging in your campaign is to increase voter turnout for your candidate. Since elections are a timely matter, you must convey a sense of urgency that compels your supporters to act as soon as they receive a message. Once you’ve earned their attention, you have to give them a reason to act.
Tip: Urgency is especially important in political texts, so use hot button topics that increase the sense of urgency and grab subscriber attention.
Create a Clear Call To Action
In every text message, you should always consider the opportunity to incorporate a call to action. After all, text messaging is one of the most effective tools to cut through the noise, guide your supporters, and make an ask with a clear call to action.
Tip: Create a call to action around key functions of your campaign: donate, attend an event, volunteer, and vote.
Incorporate MMS Messaging
Compared to SMS messaging, MMS messaging enables campaigns to include multimedia content like a video, image, GIF, or sound file. With the expanded features, campaigns can create a higher impact by sending media content to supporters. For example, sending a personalized video message from a candidate or a snippet from a speech can be powerful.
Below are just a few benefits of MMS messages:
- Character limit. Tatango allows for 5,000 characters of text per MMS message, compared to an SMS message that only allows 160 characters. Using MMS messaging is a great way to ensure that your brand’s message is clearly and eloquently delivered.
- Subject line. MMS messages allow for a subject line, which is another great way to catch subscriber attention. Tatango allows for up to 40 characters within the subject line.
- Media content. When sending an MMS message, you have the opportunity to add media content, like a video, image, GIF, vCard, QR code, or even a sound file.
Examples of Political Text Messages
Now that we’ve covered the core components of writing successful political text messages, let’s look at some examples.
Fundraising Text Message Marketing Examples
In the political fundraising text messages above, there are two formats. The message on the left is an MMS message containing an eye-catching image, bold subject line, and call to action with a hyperlink.
The image on the right is a shorter, more direction SMS message. Note how both messages use second-person to speak directly to the voter. Additionally, both messages include a specific call to action inviting the subscriber to donate. They increase urgency by promising a 4x and 5x match if the supporter donates soon.
Get Out The Vote Text Message Marketing Examples
The messages above are get out the vote (GOTV) text messages. On the left, the senator increases urgency by letting the voter know that election day is quickly approaching. The text message uses hyperlinks and paragraphs to break up the message and make it easy to scan.
On the right, the congressman follows up on election day, letting the subscriber know when to head to the polls. The message also provides useful information such as a link to nearby voting centers. Both of these messages increase the likelihood of a vote in the candidate’s favor.
Campaign and Candidate Engagement Text Message Marketing Examples
In the political text message examples above, the candidate engages with subscribers. In the message on the left, the candidate offers a signed photo and personal note. While this doesn’t directly increase donations, it does warm up subscribers to future interactions such as votes or donations. This is a great way to give before receiving, and play the long game with subscribers.
In the text message on the right, the candidate takes advantage of MMS marketing’s longer character limits to send more detailed information about new policies. The candidate also invites the subscriber to reply back with YES. This is a great way to boost engagement and gauge which segments are passionate about certain hot-button issues.
Volunteer Outreach and Management Text Message Marketing Examples
Lastly, both of the messages above are longer MMS messages. Note how, on the left, the candidate uses urgency by sharing exactly how many volunteers they need (53) and when (midnight). They use action-oriented language like “join the good fight” and make subscribers feel like valued “friends”.
In the text message on the right, the candidate makes subscribers feel like part of a broader mission with language like “join our cause”, “we’ve selected you”, and “become a team leader”. This is a great way to show subscribers that they are more than just phone numbers—they are voters, loyal supporters, and appreciated donors.
Why Political Campaigns Win Using Tatango’s SMS Marketing Software
It’s important to choose the right SMS marketing service for your political campaign; it is a key factor in your campaign’s success. Tatango offers easy-to-use software and industry expertise to help political campaigns solve their SMS marketing challenges. 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. 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.
Some features that set Tatango apart from other text message marketing companies include:
- Segmentation: Tatango offers subscriber segmentation that allows campaigns to send to custom subscriber segments so campaigns can create highly optimized messaging.
- Messaging Workflows: Tatango offers a messaging workflow that allows campaigns to 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: Use merge tags to personalize each text message. 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.
Ready to earn the vote? Get a step ahead of your competitors by utilizing the power of political text messaging. Talk to an SMS marketing expert about our solutions and competitive messaging pricing.