Political campaigning and fundraising through text messages are standard practices today. In fact, almost 2 billion texts about the election went out in November 2020. As more people communicate by text, it has become an essential method for reaching voters and building support. More than 78% of people say SMS messaging is the quickest way to reach them. This kind of real-time communication with supporters and volunteers is vital, especially in tight races.
But the role of text messaging in political battlegrounds had to start somewhere. Today, the technology and systems required for sending mass SMS messages are easier to use and more efficient than ever before. By tracing the beginnings of political text message campaigns, we can learn valuable lessons and tips for the next election. Keep reading for a look at one of the earliest and most effective SMS strategies in politics.
Senator Scott Brown’s SMS Campaign
In 2010, there was a special election for the US Senate in Massachusetts. Months before, a relatively unknown candidate began working with Tatango to build one of the first texting campaigns. Scott Brown’s team wasted no time or opportunity. Organizers promoted the campaign’s keyword—a central element of any SMS messaging plan—everywhere they possibly could. Brown’s campaign integrated massive platforms, like Twitter and YouTube, and took advantage of every inch of available real estate, showing their contact number and keyword on physical signs, banners, websites, and social media. Scott Brown’s SMS subscriber list grew to thousands of names within the first 30 days of this widespread push.
Scott Brown was able to quickly build momentum using this new technology to pull ahead. With the help of volunteers, staffers, and Tatango’s expertise, SMS marketing became a central part of Brown’s successful run for office. Let’s take a look at exactly how Senator Scott Brown’s campaign used text messages.
Scott Brown’s Political Texting Strategy
A subscriber list with thousands of numbers can be very beneficial for a campaign, as more people lead to more donations and votes. Calling people to immediate action is one of the biggest strengths of mass political text messaging. SMS messages have a built-in sense of immediacy and carry a weight that other forms of communication, such as email, sometimes lack. A whopping 99% of text messages are opened and read. A candidate and their team can get immediate feedback with SMS features such as clickable links to a website, poll, or fundraising form. Text messages can also provide actionable information and put out calls for support. Scott Brown’s campaign is a perfect example.
While Brown’s opponent in the race, Marth Coakley, was on a local radio program, his team sent out the following text message:
“Martha Coakley will be on 96.9 FM Talk right now. Call 617-822-1969 right now with your questions!”
That message, shared with more than 7,000 supporters, prompted a flurry of calls into the show. The number in the text message was clickable, which allowed people to see the message and immediately respond. During the radio show, over 90% of callers were Scott Brown supporters. The message was clear and urgent, emphasizing “right now” twice. Through this message, Brown’s team exemplified the benefits of SMS communication with political supporters. This momentum continued, and Scott Brown won the election—using Tatango’s system to keep his base updated and engaged the entire time.
3 Key Ways to Boost Your Campaign with Political SMS Messages
As the use of SMS messaging in politics continues to grow, we can still learn from early success stories like Senator Scott Brown’s. Here are three key ways to boost your campaign with texting.
1. Organizing Events and Thanking Supporters
Political campaigns can use text messaging to notify supporters of developments and upcoming deadlines. Like Brown’s supporters flooding the radio show with calls, volunteers and voters have much more power when they’re united. Whether the event is a rally, a virtual Q&A, or a spontaneous meetup, SMS messaging empowers organizers to bring people together and focus on shared values and a common goal.
Texting also offers campaigns a chance to follow up after events or votes to thank supporters and keep building steam for the next steps. Even a simple “Thank you for your support!” can work wonders for morale and momentum, especially during the long build-up to Election Day.
2. Sharing Information and Updates
Keeping supporters informed about the truth is vital, especially when misinformation and political spin have an outsized impact on races and elections. Texting can help here. Sending SMS messages with clickable links to news articles, campaign releases, a candidate’s social media posts, and other sources can help voters quickly access important information. Political candidates can build trust with voters by maintaining a clear and direct line of communication instead of relying on third-party mediation.
Sharing updates through SMS messages can be pretty straightforward. Supporters have busy lives and may miss a deadline unintentionally. Studies have shown there’s a higher chance that people will register to vote and show up on Election Day when a campaign texts them. Simply sending an encouraging update to subscribers can have an outsized impact for a candidate.
3. Securing Fundraising
Thanks to integrated donation tools, fundraising through text messages has never been easier. Instead of calling in or mailing checks, subscribers can financially support candidates instantly. With texts containing campaign images and links to more information, campaigns can clarify how they’ll use their supporters’ donations. With SMS fundraising, candidates can avoid complicated fundraising methods and platforms and be open and transparent about donations. A simplified and streamlined process helps political campaigns consistently see a high return on their investment (at least $5 back for every $1 invested).
With the help of an experienced company like Tatango, campaigns can also promise their supporters safety and security. Supporters want to know that campaigns are acting responsibly, especially when financial donations and private information are involved. Tatango is the industry leader in mass SMS marketing security, providing access to secure donation tools and other important protocols such as two-factor authentication and automated logouts.
Political SMS Messages Today
Successful campaigns like Senator Scott Brown’s show how we can effectively implement texting into upcoming races and elections. There have never been better tools for building support and fundraising, making it easier than ever to reach voters directly. If you want to start a political SMS campaign or fine-tune your campaign’s texting strategy, our experts at Tatango are ready to help—contact us today.