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Fundraising Etiquette: Embracing the Text-First Approach in Political Campaigns

Discover some of the top do’s and don’ts of political texting.

Illustration of political texting icon above a smartphone with this article’s tips shown as simple incoming text messages
March 14, 2024
Chloe Mulliner
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Reading time about 12 min

Political campaigns use a lot of marketing tactics to reach their voters during election cycles and routinely throughout each year. You’re probably familiar with the ads they run on TV and the flyers they send through the mail. However, since the 2008 Presidential Election, many platforms have streamlined the power of text messages to connect with voters by slicing through the noise of other channels. This means they’re sending political text messages with information, such as campaign issues, candidate profiles, polling locations, and more.

But if you’re new to the world of SMS messaging, it’s crucial to learn the do’s and don’ts of political texting. After all, best practices and marketing laws govern SMS messaging, and marketers need to be aware of them to avoid fines and unhappy subscribers.

To help you navigate all the red tape, we’ve created a handy political text message etiquette 2024 guide, covering best practices and rules for political texting.

 

Texting Etiquette in Political Campaigns: Best Practices for Success

Our political text message 2024 guide covers everything you need to know about creating successful SMS campaign strategies. Follow along for some of the top do’s and don’ts of political texting.

Why Text Matters: The Power of SMS in Engaging Voters

Let’s start from the top: Why is text message marketing crucial for political campaigns in 2024? Text message marketing is crucial for political campaigns in 2024 because it provides an effective way of inspiring, educating, and motivating voters to take action.

These messages can help encourage voters to vote a certain way, donate to a campaign fund, or volunteer at a registration drive, which could ultimately help influence election results.

Moreover, text messaging is a cost-effective way of more direct, personalized communication with voters, leading to more targeted engagement.

 

The 2024 Landscape: Reaching Voters Where They Are

If you do your political research, 2024 text messages are one of the most effective ways of reaching voters.

Unlike TV ads, which require the voter to sit in front of a TV, or campaign flyers, which require the voter to sift through their mail, political ads arrive right at the voter’s fingertips. These political texts go straight to their cell phones, so the voters can open and read the text in seconds, even if they’re on the go.

 

Beyond Email and Ads: Why Text Messages Drive Higher Engagement

So, what is it that makes political SMS texts more engaging than other forms of marketing?

For starters, 98% of the population has mobile phones capable of receiving SMS messages. And of that population, 83% of the millennials open SMS messages within 90 seconds of receiving them!

Not only are the recipients receiving and opening these texts, but they’re interacting with them, too. For instance, the average response time to a text message is 90 seconds compared to emails, which tends to be around 90 minutes. What’s more, some studies suggest that SMS texts have engagement rates that are six to eight times higher than email marketing. These engagement rates suggest that those who receive SMS marketing messages reply to the messages, click on the links, RSVP, and even respond to polls and surveys.

The beauty of this form of marketing is that it’s easier to get more eyes on your content while encouraging voters to interact with your campaign messages and follow your calls to action.

That said, just because SMS messaging effectively reaches your voters doesn’t mean you should ditch your other marketing efforts. In fact, it’s best to incorporate SMS messaging into your current marketing strategies to have a more well-rounded approach.

 

How Political Text Messages Drive Engagement

So, how can text messages help campaigns engage mobile voters in 2024? Text messages can help campaigns get their messages in front of voters, provide interactive opportunities, mobilize volunteers and supporters, and run voter registration drives.

These messages are often MMS, including interactive elements like photos, video clips, and links to campaign pages, which encourage voters to engage with the content. The more the voters interact with the content, the more they’ll be inspired to learn about a candidate’s initiative, motivated to donate to a campaign fund, or maybe even register to vote for the first time.

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Crafting Strategic and Ethical Text Messages

You won’t necessarily see those kinds of open and engagement rates if you click send on your SMS messages without understanding marketing strategies. So, let’s review some best practices associated with the dos and don’ts of political texting.

What are some best practices for political SMS campaigns? Some best practices for political SMS campaigns include getting permission, personalizing messages, and encouraging calls to action.

 

Getting Permission

Getting permission before texting voters isn’t just polite; it’s the law. After all, some laws oversee marketing and require SMS marketers to receive written permission before sending texts, which we’ll review more in the following section. That said, always provide an opt-in option, allowing your voters to sign up for text communication and provide their written consent.

Sample Text Message

To encourage your voters to join your text marketing program, include a shortcode in your emails, flyers, and at your campaign booths. For example, the message might say, “Want to learn more about Candidate Jones’s initiatives? Text 858585 to receive our SMS campaign texts and updates!” When your voters text that shortcode, they’re giving you permission to send them political texts.

 

Personalizing Messages

Personalizing your political texts is another key way to improve engagement. To start, customize each text message with the voter’s name. Next, segment your voters to appeal to their demographics and personal preferences.

For instance, if a group of your subscribers recently RSVPed to your candidate’s climate rally, you might send them a personalized text asking them to sign a climate-related petition. Or, if you have a list of unregistered voters, you could send them a personalized message with information regarding ways to register in their communities.

Sample Text Message

An example of a personalized political text message might say, “Josh, there’s still time to register to vote! We’re hosting a registration drive at Z Park at 3 pm. Register with us today!”

The more tailored the messages are to the voter’s needs and preferences, the more likely they will read and interact with them.

 

Encouraging Calls to Action that Convert

Including calls to action is another best practice when crafting messages. This means providing voters with a task you want them to complete, which could involve clicking on a campaign link, RSVPing to a rally, providing their feedback in a poll, or registering to vote.

For example, you might ask voters to follow a link to the candidate’s website where they can pledge their vote. Or, you could send an invite for a local canvassing event and ask the voter to sign up to volunteer for the event.

Sample Text Message

A sample political text with a call to action could look like this, “Moe, you’re invited to our town hall meeting on Feb. 25 at the Plaza. RSVP here to receive your tickets.”

These calls to action allow voters to interact and engage with your campaign efforts.

Navigating the Legal Landscape

As previously mentioned, marketing laws govern political text messaging, so it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the TCPA, focus on protecting data, and be transparent.

 

Demystifying the TCPA

What legal regulations govern political text messaging? While a few marketing rules and regulations govern political text messages, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is among the most important.

To comply with this legislation, it’s important to ensure you provide opt-in and opt-out options. Your opt-in option should allow your voters to sign up for your SMS texting program and agree to receive your texts. As for your opt-out option, this feature should allow your voters to unsubscribe from your text communication anytime. To do so, you could include the phrasing “Text STOP to opt-out” in your SMS messages. If your voters decide to opt-out, it’s crucial to immediately unsubscribe them and cease communication.

TCPA also limits texting between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m., so it’s important not to text your voters outside that window. If you bombard your voters with texts around the clock, they’ll begin ignoring your messages and may even decide to opt out of your text program altogether.

Also, it’s important to remember that failing to follow the TCPA rules could lead to fines or even lawsuits.

 

Privacy First

Next, privacy is a biggie, but some gray areas exist around this subject. If you do your political research on 2024 text messages, you’ll see SMS marketers need to be mindful of how they collect and use voter data. Depending on the state you’re living in and sending texts, there may be laws around voter privacy and protections.

For instance, there’s a California regulation that says recipients can request a report on the personal information a company has on them and a list of the companies who have received their data.

Ignorance isn’t an excuse for data breaches, so learn what privacy laws pertain to your marketing efforts.

 

Transparency Matters

Being transparent is perhaps the best way to remain compliant. Provide (and abide by) opt-in and opt-out options, and be upfront with your voters about how you plan to collect and use their data. Also, be prepared to provide your voters with data reports upon request. This transparency can help build trust with your voters and create stronger relationships.

Measuring Success

If you’re a star athlete, there’s no way to know if you’re improving if you don’t track your performance. And the same goes for your political text campaigns. If you’re not tracking your SMS metrics, you won’t know if your efforts are successful. After all, your metrics provide key insights into how well your campaigns perform so you can judge whether you need to revise your marketing efforts.

That said, how can political campaigns measure the success of their text message campaigns? Political campaigns can measure the success of their text message campaigns by running A/B tests, reviewing their engagement rates, and looking into emerging trends.

 

A/B Testing & Refinement

A/B testing involves experimenting with two different SMS messages and audience segments and tracking their performance side by side. For instance, did group A receive higher open rates than group B? Was the B group associated with higher opt-outs than group A? And if group A outperformed group B, how can you replicate group A?

This information can help inform your future political SMS campaigns and refine your strategy so you receive the best results.

 

Look into Engagement Rates

Your metrics can tell a lot about the success of your SMS campaigns. Monitor your open, engagement, conversion, and unsubscribe rates to see how well your SMS messages are performing. Are your voters opening your messages and following your calls to action? Or are you seeing a decrease in conversions and an increase in opt-out requests?

Also, monitor other metrics, such as voter turnout, volunteer sign-ups, and voter donations. For example, are you seeing a steady rise in voter turnout? Or is there a sharp decline in the number of donations you’ve received this month? This data can give you a better idea of whether your campaigns are resonating with your voters or if you need to take a different approach.

 

Understand Emerging Trends for 2024 & Beyond

Sure, you might be happy with the direction of your political campaigns but don’t get too comfortable or set in your ways. It’s important to be mindful of emerging trends to continue to see positive results and stay ahead of the curve.

So, what are the emerging trends in political text messaging for the 2024 election? Some emerging trends in political text messaging for the 2024 election include incorporating AI technology, using chatbots, and incorporating multimedia elements.

For example, you can use AI technology to help you craft messages and gather insight into your voters’ behaviors and preferences. At the same time, chatbots can automatically respond to voters’ questions and concerns. As for multimedia elements, adding images, videos, links, and polls can help make your messages more eye-catching and interactive.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

To round out our list of do’s and don’ts of political texting, let’s address some of the pitfalls associated with SMS campaigns.

What are some common mistakes to avoid when running political text message campaigns? Some common mistakes to avoid when running political text message campaigns include ignoring opt-out requests, spamming inboxes, sending misleading messages, and neglecting data security.

  • Ignoring opt-out requests: If your voters want to opt-out from your text communication, immediately remove them from your subscription list and do not contact them again.
  • Spamming inboxes: Sending too many irrelevant messages is a surefire way to make your voters unsubscribe from your text program.
  • Sending misleading texts: Be upfront and transparent with your voters to build trust.
  • Neglecting data security: Remember to follow SMS marketing laws and protect your voters’ data.

 

Start Sending Political SMS Messages Today

If SMS messages aren’t part of your political marketing strategy, you leave much on the table. After all, political text messages can help get your content in front of your voters, leading to increased donations, more informed voters, and better voter turnout. Turn to EZ Texting today to try our free 14-day trial!

Effortless Political Texting Starts Here

Every contact counts! Gather, segment, and reach them all year.

GET STARTED

FAQs

While there are a lot of factors that impact who wins an election, political campaigns can influence political outcomes. After all, political texting can help increase voter turnout, raise campaign funds, influence voter opinions, and mobilize volunteers and supporters to get involved with the campaign.

It is acceptable to text voters about politics only after you’ve received their written permission to receive text communication from you. Once they’ve opted in to receive your texts, respect their opt-out requests, avoid bombarding them with texts around the clock, and focus on sending valuable, relevant information.

Political campaigns can address voter concerns about privacy in text messaging by being upfront and honest about how they use and collect data, using an SMS platform with strong privacy and security features, and respecting data deletion requests.

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