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Why Texting Is The Best Direct Voter Contact (DVC) Strategy

Learn how campaigns can incorporate SMS texting into their DVC strategy to help mobilize voters.

Spilt screen of 4+ different looking people with a close-up of them wearing an “I Voted” sticker
April 22, 2024
Chloe Mulliner
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Reading time about 8 min

Campaigns compete for attention, from billboards to the airways, when election season rolls around. They jam our mailboxes full of political flyers, and their attack ads take over commercial time. Yes, many communication methods exist, but some are more effective than others.

And that’s what brings us to direct voter contact (DVC). This strategy is perhaps one of the best ways for campaigns to reach their voters and get them to listen and engage.

But what exactly does direct voter contact mean? And how can campaigns implement it into their voter outreach strategies? Follow along to find out more.

Texting: Revolutionizing Direct Voter Contact

Of all the direct voter contact strategies, texting is our favorite. Below, we’ll review the DVC approach and explore what makes texting a powerful political campaign tool.

 

Direct Voter Contact: The Backbone of Political Campaigns

What is direct voter contact (DVC), and why is it important? DVC refers to communication between a political campaign and individual voters. It’s important because it allows campaigns to have one-on-one conversations with voters that can help persuade them to vote—and vote a certain way.

 

Importance of Direct Interaction with Voters

Direct voter contact fosters discussion between a campaign and its voters. It’s an opportunity for the campaign to use personalized messaging that might resonate with individual voters and appeal to their preferences. In the same vein, it also opens the doors of communication for voters, as they can ask questions and discuss specific issues.

This direct interaction with voters is crucial because it lets the campaign have more tailored communication with constituents, encouraging them to vote in their favor and in general. Some studies suggest that direct voter contact contributes to higher voter turnout.

To understand the power of direct voter contact, let’s consider the difference between a voter seeing a political billboard ad and having an in-person conversation about the upcoming election.

Let’s say a voter saw a billboard along a highway encouraging them to vote for a particular candidate. After seeing that sign, they might pick up some name recognition, but they’re probably not compelled to race to the polls. Now, let’s compare that situation to one in which the same voter experienced direct voter contact when a canvasser knocked on their door, discussed that same candidate with them, and even addressed their concerns about a specific position.

In this case, the voter’s direct contact with the campaign canvasser is more likely to motivate them to attend the polls on election day than if they’d only seen the billboard message.

Illustration depicting mobilization of voters via mobile

 

Mobile Canvassing: The Future of Voter Outreach

Before diving into direct voter communication methods, let’s briefly address traditional canvassing vs. mobile canvassing.

Traditional canvassing refers to the original direct voter contact methods, which typically include going door-to-door to speak with voters and calling them over the phone.

Mobile canvassing incorporates technology to facilitate voter interactions. This might involve using a mobile texting platform to send SMS texts to voters or connecting with them via a video call on a tablet or cell phone. Mobile canvassing can also describe the use of technology to collect, track, and monitor voter data.

So, how does mobile canvassing differ from traditional canvassing methods? Mobile canvassing mostly differs from traditional methods since it’s done virtually, meaning not face-to-face with voters. However, combined approaches to canvassing can help increase voter support and turnout.

Exploring Direct Voter Communication Methods

There are quite a few direct voter communication methods and strategies. Still, for our purposes, we’ll focus on political text messaging as a means for campaigns to engage with voters.

That said, what are some direct voter communication methods besides texting? Some direct voter communication methods besides texting include making phone calls, door-to-door canvassing, and sending emails.

 

Phone Calls

Often called phone banking, this direct voter contact strategy involves calling voters on the phone to discuss a specific candidate, political party, and upcoming election. Campaigns may also use phone calls to inform voters about upcoming elections and polling locations or gauge whether they plan to cast ballots on election day.

 

Door-to-Door Canvassing

Door-to-door canvassing is another common direct voter communication method in which campaign volunteers have in-person contact with voters. They knock on doors in neighborhoods, hoping to speak directly with voters about party issues, candidates, elections, voter registration, and more.

 

Email Outreach

Email outreach, which can also be considered a form of mobile canvassing, is when a campaign sends targeted emails to voters. Campaigns use voter data to create personalized emails that they hope resonate with voters based on age, location, voting history, and preferences.

Text Messaging as a Viable Direct Voter Contact Strategic

Text messaging has become a powerful digital voter contact strategy, sending voters targeted, relevant political messages. It’s considered digital simply because texting is a DVC strategy that requires technology.

So, why is texting considered a powerful political campaign tool? It is convenient, engaging, and highly targeted.

 

Texting is Convenient

For starters, sending text messages provides one of the easiest ways of getting a message in front of a voter. After all, text messages have a 98% open rate. And if that wasn’t impressive enough, think of it this way: texts are opened and read nearly 138% more than emails!

With that in mind, campaigns have a higher chance of getting more eyes on their content when they send it via text. And when they make that content engaging and interactive, they have an even higher chance of motivating and mobilizing their voters.

 

Texting is Engaging

Texting as a political campaign tool helps spread the word about candidates and provides helpful information regarding voting registration and election day.

For instance, campaigns can use text messages to encourage voters to register to vote by offering information on how to register or sending invitations to in-person registration drives. They can also send reminders about upcoming elections, arrange carpools to polling locations, promote fundraisers, educate voters about early voting options, and even engage in two-way conversations with voters.

And this digital voter contact strategy yields results. One study saw increased voter turnout for swing voters after they received relevant texts with helpful voting information and prompts. Moreover, that same study suggested that texting voters between the ages of 30 and 44 also impacted voter turnout. This shows that, when done properly, texting get-the-vote-out messages (GTVO) can encourage voters to cast ballots in elections.

 

Texting is Highly Targeted

One of the best parts about using texting as a digital voter strategy is that campaigns can use voter data to customize highly targeted text messages.

Guided by voter data, campaigns can create messages that are relevant to voters. For instance, a campaign might use a voter’s age to inform what messaging they’ll receive. After all, there’s a big difference between how Baby Boomers and Gen Z consume and engage with content. In the same way, an older voter might have different preferences and priorities than someone who is just old enough to cast their first vote, so a campaign can use this to tailor texts that are most likely to resonate with that segmented age group.

Factors that Contribute to Direct Voter Contact Effectiveness

So, whether you’re going door-to-door or sending political texts to voters, what factors contribute to the effectiveness of direct voter contact strategies? Factors contributing to the effectiveness of direct voter contact strategies include the quality of voter data, timing, personalized interactions, and technology.

 

Quality of Voter Data

Voter data helps inform who and how you contact voters. High-quality data leads to high-quality communication because it allows campaigns to curate messages that appeal to voters based on their demographics, behaviors, preferences, and location.

 

Timing

Timing is important when it comes to contacting voters. Calling them in the middle of the night, knocking on their door first thing in the morning, or texting them all throughout the day will not yield the results a campaign wants. What’s more, a campaign also needs to determine how far in advance they should begin reaching out to their voters, and this is where creating a voter contact plan comes in handy.

 

Personalized Interactions

Quality voter data and personalized interactions go hand-in-hand, as the data helps campaigns generate personalized messages relevant to individuals. For instance, a campaign might use a voter’s zip code to text them information regarding their polling location, such as the address and hours of operation. This kind of customized communication can help mobilize voters to take action.

 

Technology

Finally, technology can help increase DVC effectiveness in several ways. For example, campaign volunteers might use tablets with dashboards that collect voter data in real-time, while an SMS platform can use that data to produce personalized texts. Technology is making it easier for campaigns to be more intentional and engage in their voters' interactions.

 

Texting Contributes to DVC Effectiveness

If your phone calls and door-to-door conversations aren’t getting the engagement your campaign wants, it might be time to try a different DVC approach: SMS texting. At EZ Texting, our SMS platform can help campaigns enhance their communication with voters. Contact us today to learn more about our SMS solutions.

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