6 Ways Political Texts Can Inspire Your Next SMS Campaign

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August 4, 2020
Anna Davies
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Reading time about 5 min

It used to be that you could tell it was a political season by the amount of campaign ads on TV. Now, campaign season is announced with the hopeful ding of a message alert of your phone. Local and national candidates use texts to fundraise, connect with their base, and invite them to grassroots events.

The 2008 Presidential election ushered digital campaigning into the national sphere. Now, just over a decade later, digital campaigning is a well-oiled machine, complete with strict rules on how to do so.

An emerging phenomenon that has gained steam through the Covid-19 crisis has been peer-to-peer messaging. Recently covered by Wired, peer-to-peer messaging, or P2P, is when a likely voter gets a text from a campaign volunteer. This volunteer may introduce themselves with their name and may be texting from their personal number. The concept is the digital equivalent of door knocking, but a lack of regulations can lead to potential privacy violations.

In short, as texting becomes more crucial for campaigns of all sizes, tech is emerging more quickly than regulations. This can feel like a Wild West atmosphere — and may mean your text inbox feels more crowded than ever.

But don’t slide those political texts to delete just yet. They can provide valuable information. Sure, they can help you decide on the best candidate for your vote, but they can also give you some ideas for your own text-based marketing strategy. After all, campaigns on the state and national scale may have hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars behind them, including market research to make sure texts are achieving key goals.


engagement rate of text marketing

Here, six tips on how to crib from political texts to maximize your own business goals.


1. Opt-Ins Are Important

Political campaigns are required to send opt-in messaging to recipients, even if the recipients had opted in to communications from a previous campaign. It’s a smart idea to do so for your business as well — and to regularly provide opt-out messaging. While your list may initially seem smaller, you can be reassured that you’re reaching people who actually want to hear and engage with your messaging.


2. Allow for Engagement

Text can be a powerful way to engage with voters — and with customers. Consider using texts to send surveys, ask for opinions, and provide a way for customers to reach out to you with any concerns or questions.

Why choose text marketing?

3. Avoid Negativity

Political traffic text guidelines remind campaigns that slander of opponents and sharing misinformation is not a supported use case for text-based political messaging. And it’s a good idea to keep in mind when you’re planning your own messages. Keeping focused on what you have to offer — instead of what the competition doesn’t — can make sure people truly understand the mission and nature of your business.


4. Consider Diversifying Your Messaging

Political campaigns may text about a variety of subjects: Practical info on dates and places to vote, policy positions, time-sensitive fundraising goals, merchandise drops, and even holiday greetings. Is your business connecting on a range of topics? If not, it may be time to experiment with different messages and see what gets responses.


5. Privacy is Everything

When people share their number, they share their trust with you. Political campaigns have received flack for how data may be used. For example, recently, the mayor of New Orleans created a “text me” initiative where she shared a number with constituents. But political science experts are raising eyebrows about the information the mayor asked of constituents, including name, age, and gender identity, suggesting that the initiative muddled government function from campaigning. The point: Make it clear to customers how their info will be used, and don’t betray the trust they give you in sharing their data. It’s OK to Get … Well, Political We live in a divisive era, and it can feel like it’s safest to completely step out of any societal debate. But as consumers look for authenticity, it may be worth considering the pros and cons from a brand and business perspective of stepping into societal conversations instead of pretending that your business exists in a bubble.


6. Remember: Screenshots Live Forever

Text messaging is a simple, efficient way to connect to customers, employees, and job applicants. But while texting can feel like a casual conversation, remember that screenshots can live forever, gaining fire on social media. That’s why it’s important to make sure everyone affiliated with your brand stays on message and knows what that message may be. As political campaigns spread to cell phones and messaging Gen Z, take a note of how they are communicating in a way that speaks to pop culture — and also stays professional. Bottom line: Those extra texts aren’t annoying — they’re a valuable market research opportunity to see how millions of dollars of research are catalyzing in the form of text messaging. After all, it’s not called a text message campaign for nothing.


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