In the 2020 election season, more political text messages were sent than ever before. SMS marketing enables political groups and organizations to engage with constituents in real time, raise more donations through text message marketing, and increase voter turnout in the places that matter most. In this blog post, we review everything you might be wondering about political campaign SMS fundraising and political text messages.
Understanding the Political Campaign SMS Fundraising Landscape
First things first: let’s review a few essential components of political SMS marketing.
What Is a Political Text Message?
A political text message is any text message an individual receives on their cell phone number with a political theme or subject. This election-related text message can be peer texting (e.g., a volunteer sending a text message to a phone number) or political texting via SMS software, enabling political campaigns to send text messages to subscribers who have opted in to receive text messages from a political group or organization.
Are Political Text Messages Legal?
The answer is yes and no. If political candidates and organizations take the proper steps and abide by the laws and guidelines around political text messaging, it’s legal to send text messages to subscribers. Not only that, but doing so helps safeguard our democracy by keeping communication channels open between candidates and their constituents, informing voters of key issues, and empowering people to donate to the causes they care about most.
However, political groups and organizations must follow the laws and regulations outlined by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA), and Federal Communications Committee (FCC). These include guidelines like express written consent, consent not being a condition of purchase, and properly including HELP and STOP messages.
Not only does ignoring regulations for political SMS marketing reflect poorly on the entire industry, but it can also cost violators $1,500 per unwanted message, per recipient. Political groups and organizations need to educate themselves on text message marketing laws and work with a political SMS software provider with a solid reputation.
Why Political Candidates Use Text Messages
Political candidates and political organizations use a wide range of strategies to communicate with their supporters. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, political candidates continued to send printed mail and relied on volunteers to canvas door to door and make phone calls. However, political digital marketing such as text messaging marketing has also increased.
SMS marketing outranks other top digital marketing channels, such as email marketing and social media marketing, because text message marketing has a 99 percent open rate. This open rate is vastly superior to email marketing open rates of around 18 percent and social media algorithms, which show messages to roughly 2 percent of your followers. Additionally, 90 percent of SMS messages are read within three minutes of being sent. It’s data like this that allows political campaigns to impact text messages and political fundraising significantly.
What Worked in the 2020 Political Campaign Season
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s examine what worked in the 2020 election and political campaign season. More than 5 billion text messages were sent in October 2020 alone. Below, we analyze the messages to determine what worked and how you can apply these strategies to the 2022 election, 2024 election, and beyond.
Popular Types of Political Text Messages
Political text message campaigns have several purposes, including:
- Growing political campaign fundraising
- Increasing supporter engagement
- Recruiting and organizing volunteers
- Increasing voter turnout in key races
In 2020, political organizations sent donation-related messaging the most, based on volume. Republicans sent the most messages (roughly 3 billion) compared to Democrats (2 billion). Get-out-the-vote messages were also prominent.
Sending Political Text Messages After the Election
Political groups and candidates sent 270 million text messages in the days following the election from November 4 to November 9. These messages kept their supporters engaged, informed about election results, and proud to have participated. In fact, 50 percent of respondents said their favorite type of text message was a thank-you for casting their vote.
Encouraging Voter Turnout
From our research, 37 percent of respondents said they felt influenced to register to vote because of political text messages. In fact, 6 out of 10 messages were get-out-the-vote related. This means SMS marketing definitely has an impact on getting voters to the polls—potentially in very key constituencies or swing states.
Inspiring Trust in Political Text Messages
We know that 54 percent of respondents said they would like to see a verification system that confirms a political text message is from a legitimate source. The that supporters trust the source, the more inclined they are to engage and feel called to action just from the text message.
(As a reminder, no brand or political organization is legally allowed to send messages without subscribers first consenting and opting in to receive those text messages.)
Personalizing Political Text Messages
Our research found that 47 percent of respondents felt the political text messages they received were personalized. Personalization improves ROI for political groups and organizations using SMS marketing.
With the Tatango political text message marketing platform, you can personalize text messages by inserting merge tags, which enable campaigns to include a subscriber’s first name or other identifiers in the text message. Campaigns can also use merge tags to include a subscriber’s email address, state, city, zip code, or even custom subscriber data, which dynamically inserts your subscribers’ names and other personalized information into your text messages.
Improving Political Campaign SMS Fundraising
From analyzing the 2020 election political text messaging campaigns, we know what enhances your SMS marketing campaigns. Below, we suggest several techniques to improve your subscriber engagement, voter turnout, political fundraising, and more.
Send weekly reminders: Sending weekly reminders for volunteering, donation requests, and voter instructions are helpful not only in keeping your audience engaged but also in making sure that every person on your list has the opportunity to participate.
Message subscribers about important issues: Your constituents’ engagement increases when they can relate and respond to topics they’re interested in. We recommend segmenting your list by causes or sending updates after important campaign events to keep your subscribers engaged.
Use eye-catching MMS text messages: With MMS text messages, you can use more characters and include eye-catching graphics that capture the recipients’ attention.
Increase your ROI through political campaign SMS fundraising: In an internal study, we found that for every dollar invested in building and operating a texting program, campaigns net $5 in donations on average. With an ROI that high in such a competitive campaign trail, political text marketing is essential for your grassroots efforts.
Get Started with Political Campaign SMS Fundraising
As you can see, political text messaging plays an ever-increasing role in U.S. elections, helping increase voter turnout, generate donations for candidates, and communicate important information during the election season. If you’re a political candidate or organization looking to tap into the power of political SMS marketing for the 2022 election or 2024 election, contact our SMS marketing experts today.