Text messaging is amazing. You can use it for absolutely anything – donations, marketing, promotions, loyalty cards, security purposes, emergencies and the list goes on. One such purpose is political campaigns. Political campaigns used to be extremely expensive. Focus groups, surveys and all such research costs thousands of dollars. Now, with the introduction of SMS as a business service, the cost of political campaigns has come down significantly. It has also made it easier for candidates from any kind of background to run. If you’re a political campaign manager or a candidate considering to run, this article is a must read!
How to integrate text messaging with your political campaign
If you’re not familiar with mass texting or SMS Marketing, you must be wondering how to integrate text messaging with your political campaign. It’s very simple; an SMS platform is all you need. First, sign up with an online SMS platform. Then, upload a contact list of all the voters’ contact numbers that you have access to. Once this step is complete, you will have to choose a payment plan. You can choose this based on the size of your political campaign e.g. if you intend to target only your district you can choose a smaller payment package that comes with fewer texts. Similarly, running for a state or presidential election will require a much bigger package. In fact, presidential campaigns may even require multiple accounts. If you’re looking for an SMS platform that is easy to use, affordable and provides multiple packages – ExpressText is the perfect choice for you. You could send up to 100,000 texts at one time in only $1500, and that too instantly. Anyhow, getting back to the process, a shortcode and one or more keywords come with every package. These are used to conduct mobile campaigns.
Since text message for business purposes is permission-based, even political campaigns are legally obliged to obtain the consent of voters before sending them any campaign-related text messages. That is why they are assigned a keyword and shortcode. The shortcode is the number which the citizens receive messages from. A keyword is a word or phrase that they are required to send to the shortcode in order to be able to receive text messages from the campaign. Citizens can also reply with a given keyword such as ‘STOP’ if they wish to stop receiving these messages. Clear instructions on how to unsubscribe are also part of the legal obligations of the political campaign.
Why use text messaging for political campaigns?
Research says that there are some people who actually like to interact with campaign volunteers. If they’re voting for a candidate or thinking of voting, they would inevitably wish to know more about the campaign. Thus, volunteers can be used to interact with citizens via text message and use this communication tactfully to convince them to vote for their candidate.
One form of research is focus groups. Did you know that one focus group roughly costs about $4000 to $6000 PER session? So you’d have to have a huge source of funds backing up your campaign. This number is without the use of text message. With it, however, the need for bringing in participants ceases. They can sit at home and answer questions via text; thus, they will also have to be paid less. It is important to note that expressions play a role in focus groups as well, but the major job consists of asking questions and receiving answers. As long as you pay the participants, the chances of receiving accurate responses remain high. The option of conducting focus groups via SMS is especially useful for those who are looking for a budget-friendly, yet effective, solution. Whether you can afford an expensive focus group for your campaign or not, incorporating text message will help you better spend that extra money elsewhere.
Surveys are similar to focus groups. They are a part of campaign research to help better assess the position of candidates. Before, surveys were usually conducted by handing out printed questionnaires door to door. This required expert skills in order to come up with intellectual questions, manual labour to distribute questionnaires, paper, ink, printing machinery and a number of other miscellaneous costs. It also took time and effort to distribute and collect responses. Luckily for you, Google has completely changed the game. You can make a questionnaire on Google drive within seconds (and bonus point: save the environment without having to cut down trees for paper!) It is much faster to distribute these online questionnaires as well. The link to the webpage can be sent on any platform which individuals can use to open it. Once they fill it out and click submit, the response is automatically saved in Google drive. What’s more is that Google displays results in the form of graphs based on gender, multiple choice options and much more so it’s cutting down on your cost to compile your research as well! But where does text message come in? Well, you need a platform to communicate with the population in order to get them to fill out the questionnaire, right? SMS is your answer! It’s cheap, it’s fast and you can simply add a short link directing people to the online questionnaire. Integrating the two platforms will ensure maximum efficiency. According to TCPalm, texting citizens instead of going door to door is 129 times more effective in an hour!
Polling is perhaps the easiest way to measure who is winning. But how does one get the answers of every individual within the population on one single database? Technology. It has made everything easier. Citizens can simply be texted with options e.g. ‘Who do you think will win the presidential race? A. Donald Trump B. Hilary Clinton. Send in the letter A or B to record your answer’. SMS takes little effort and time on the part of citizens so they are more likely to text in their answers. Polling can also be done on social media as it as an engaging platform, and it can be integrated with a text message to boost responses. In any case, text messaging helps to reach a large number of people instantly so it can be used in a time-sensitive situation as well e.g. if, after a positive or negative political event/action, the votes of citizens change.
Everybody’s aware of elections, but they all need to be reminded! Not everyone makes the effort to come out and vote, even if they support a specific candidate. However, some people can be prompted to do so via text reminders. SMS can be used to remind eligible voters of their civic duty to vote. Every vote counts, so volunteers can be appointed to make sure voters come out and vote on the final day. Moreover, it is best to give them details i.e. not just the day when they are supposed to vote but also the time and place. Campaigns usually have a list of voters’ registration details which they can send to the voters via text. If citizens see an effort on part of the campaign, it is likely that they will, in turn, make the effort to vote.
Reaching the youth
Ah, the millennials! They are the age group that’s most energetic and involved in the voting process. Make sure you don’t overlook this age group (18-35) and focus a significant amount of resources on them. The age group above 35 is less invested. The elderly may not even come out to vote. However, the youth is intellectual and they can be convinced that they decide the future of their district, state or country. Luckily for you, this age group is invested in technology. According to an article by The New York Times written by a political operative, no one under the age of 45 wants a phone call. A text is the most effective way to reach these people and convince them to vote for a candidate. Text messaging is a highly underutilised channel of communication, but ever since the 2016 election, it has gained a lot of popularity.
Fundraising can be difficult if your candidate is not a well-known entity. Children and relatives of famous political figures have a slight advantage here, but luckily, text messaging makes anything possible. Funds can be raised via text by targetting wealthy personalities and convincing them to finance the campaign. Short links within text messages can also be used to direct individuals to wallet apps or online webpages where they can donate. If fundraising is done through face to face interviews with sponsors, SMS can be used as a channel to confirm their payment or thank them for their contribution – in order to put them at ease and make them feel valued.
It always makes a difference when people are notified about something. What political campaigns can do is make a group on their SMS platform account. This group can consist of all the voters who have a strong likelihood to vote in favour of their candidate. These voters can then be notified of any events, meetings or rallies for the candidate. The messages can be phrased such that voters are prompted to come out in support for the candidate and be even more involved in the voting process. Sending out notifications ensures a good turnout at any event.
Learn compelling text messaging for political campaigns!
It’s really not that hard. The only thing to do is phrase your text correctly. The idea of using SMS is that a direct platform should be used to create intimacy between the candidate and his/her voters. Politics is all about tapping into the emotions of voters and convincing them that the candidate is standing up for what they believe in. The campaign can talk about the promises of the candidate to his/her citizens and how he/she plans to deliver them. Examples of these include:
- Key points on improving healthcare
- Security i.e. how to bring down crime rates and make areas safer to live in
- Morality i.e. why the current candidate is better than current or previous leaders in terms of character
- Improvement of education
- The job market (Creating more jobs and achieving a balance between supply and demand)
These are some of the many topics that can be talked about. The goal is to deliver to the candidates what they want to see. Creating the illusion of actually implementing the presented ideas is likely to sway voters to the candidate’s side. Also, it is very important to note that people like to see change, especially the youth. They want to see something different – so be sure to add something to your campaign that is unique and preferably not been done before.
All in all, text messaging for political campaigns is something essential for an election nowadays. It is the future; it cuts down significantly on time, costs and brings about a highly positive increase in results. No more stress of going door to door or looking for a large number of volunteers. Text messaging brings about a certain level of automation and is also supported by positive statistics, making it the most effective platform for anything and everything related to your political campaign.