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What Political Campaigns Can Learn from Text Marketing

Connect with voters just like businesses connect with customers — using text marketing techniques.

Illustration of people wearing “VOTE” pins
March 14, 2024
Kathleen Crampton
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Reading time about 11 min

Political campaigns must ensure they reach and mobilize voters when the countdown to an election is on. What if we told you that campaigns could learn a thing or two from text marketing? Businesses have proven that texting consumers gets successful results, and with text messaging for political campaigns, you can, too.

Here, we delve into what political campaigns can learn from how businesses have connected with customers. From donation solicitation to reminding voters to head to the polls or mail in their ballots, political texts can capture — and keep — voters’ attention.

But first, why should political campaigns consider text messaging? Political campaigns should consider text messaging for four reasons:

  • Direct reach: Texting bypasses crowded email inboxes and avoids the often-dreaded phone call. Campaigns can connect and communicate directly with voters almost instantly. Here are a few stats to prove it: texting has a 98% open rate, and people typically read messages within 90 seconds of receiving them.
  • Mobile voter engagement: Texting is one of the best ways to motivate your audience to interact with your campaign through polls and surveys, two-way texting, and more.
  • Personal communication: While other marketing channels can include personalization features, texting allows you to have one-to-one conversations that help voters feel valued. Yes, phone banking provides direct conversations, but texting gives the voter the power by letting them decide when to respond. This is a huge benefit to building trust with your audience.
  • Improved ROI: Text marketing is a cost-effective way to reach a mass audience. Low cost and high engagement rates mean your campaign can enjoy a nice ROI. 

Personalization is Everything

Businesses understand the effect that personalization has on customer relationships: it makes them feel less like a herd member and more like an individual with unique preferences and needs. Text messaging for political campaigns can have the same effect.

One way to do this is to always include the contact’s name in every text. Addressing each person by name is the first step in personalizing their experience with your campaign. But, while important, personalizing texts isn’t enough — list segmentation and targeted messaging are essential strategies for texting voters.

 

Segmentation

Customer segmentation is a marketing technique that allows businesses and organizations to group contacts by certain features and then vary messaging across each group. Businesses do this to boost engagement and cater to the personal preferences of each group or individual to create relevant messages that boost sales.

The same technique should be applied to a political campaign’s voter outreach strategy. First, grow your contact list. Then, start segmenting by attributes like voting history, demographics, geographic location, concerns, etc. Finally, you can tailor message blasts to each group, like sending one message to a group of Baby Boomers in one region and sending another message blast to a group of low-propensity Gen X voters in another region. 

Targeted Messaging

Businesses constantly monitor each contact group and drill down to the individual contact behaviors (like purchase history) to ensure that every message is relevant. Political campaigns should also take a similar approach by leveraging microtargeting.

What are the benefits of microtargeting voters through text messages? One of the clearest benefits of microtargeting voters through text messages is that this technique increases receptivity, as tailored messages resonate more deeply with voters.

Microtargeting in political campaigns through text messaging allows campaigns to send targeted appeals on local issues or specific concerns. This approach reaches voters on an individual level and increases mobile voter engagement.

Effortless Political Texting Starts Here

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

GET STARTED

Two-Way Texting Is the New Door-to-Door Canvassing

Sample Text Message

Two-way texting is the twenty-first-century equivalent of old-school door-knocking. Now, while door-to-door canvassing is a component of campaigning still used in certain communities, it’s not the most effective. You need a lot of volunteers and a lot of time to be able to reach enough residents. Texting allows campaigns to answer questions, share enthusiasm, and hear concerns first-hand from voters — all within a few minutes.

Your initial text should be equivalent to an elevator pitch for a campaign speech — it’s getting your candidate’s name and platform out, but it can only go so far as to reach the heart and vote of your constituents. Two-way texting lets voters reach out to your campaign directly and allows you to share information, recruit volunteers, and connect with voters individually.

Take a look at these tips for conversational SMS marketing and adjust them for your campaign. For example, you could reconnect with a voter you haven’t heard from in a while or who hasn’t interacted with your messages lately.

 

Texting Encourages Engagement

Just as including polls and surveys can help businesses encourage customer interaction, the same goes for political campaigns. How can text messaging increase voter engagement? Text messaging for political campaigns increases voter engagement through various means: interactive polls, text surveys, two-way conversations, reminders, and more.

Sending a poll or survey is a great way to take a pulse on your audience: what they care about, want to hear more about from a candidate, and even how they plan on voting. Not only does this boost interaction with your campaign, but it also helps you gain important insights into how voters feel and their experience with it. Use these insights to tweak your messaging approach to certain groups to nurture each voter.

Learn how to send surveys via text.

Understanding Your Audience Is Key

Illustration of the United States. In one state, a voter is receiving a text (looking at their phone), while in another state, another voter is receiving a text (looking at their phone)

From announcing promos and providing curated product recommendations, businesses know the best way to boost mobile voter engagement is to know their audience. To prevent contacts from tuning out, businesses continuously monitor behaviors, feedback, and more to reach each individual effectively. Political campaigns should do the same.

Understanding your audience begins with segmentation, which we discussed earlier. However, it can move deeper by assessing where each contact is in their journey with your campaign and gaining insights from polls, survey feedback, and one-to-one conversations. All of this data combines to create a holistic view of a voter — which, in turn, helps you tailor messages to resonate with them. You can use those learnings to create a campaign messaging strategy that connects with your base.

Political text message examples of this text marketing tip might include sending messages to contact groups of different generations. While the message's intent will be the same, the tone of voice and/or language you use might vary depending on who you’re talking to.

 

CTAs Drive Action

Businesses know that a clear call to action (CTA) can make the difference between a passive consumer and an active customer. Similarly, the best political campaigns should have clear, to-the-point messages that make it easy for voters to want to take the next steps, whether that’s donating, watching a new campaign video, volunteering, or spreading the message.

And if you’re wondering, “Can political text messages boost voter turnout?” the answer is yes, political text messages can boost voter turnout with the same method: a clear, motivating CTA. Along with providing useful information about polling places, transportation, and early voting reminders, political campaigns can increase voter turnout through compelling texts that persuade contacts to participate in their election.

In addition to writing a slam-dunk CTA, understand the other ways to optimize your texts for success.

 

Incorporating AI Can Boost Your Texting Efforts

More and more industries are incorporating AI into their everyday workflows to improve their customer service experiences. Businesses, from SMBs to large corporations, are turning to AI solutions to gain deeper insights into their audiences, increase personalization tactics, and improve the speed at which they can meet customer needs. If you haven’t incorporated AI into your SMS strategy, now’s the time.

Image of the AI Compose content generation process

The ways in which text messaging for political campaigns can incorporate AI are almost endless. Here are a few:

  • Chatbots and virtual assistants: Task automation is important in political campaigns, especially if you're strapped for resources. If you don’t have enough people to field questions from SMS contacts, use AI virtual assistants or chatbots for politics to provide information and generate reliable two-way conversations.
  • Microtargeting: While you’re probably using voter files for data to segment your contacts, you can get deeper with microtargeting powered by AI. Certain AI tools can scan conversations with contacts to glean data and information that is helpful for understanding that individual. That, paired with predictive analytics, is a fantastic way to reach voters meaningfully.
  • Content creation: A content generator is one of the most well-known AI tools. You can use ChatGPT or other popular tools to brainstorm SMS text ideas and create content at scale. EZ Texting makes it easy to streamline the message creation process with AI Compose.

Learn the ins and outs of generative AI for SMS marketing.

Compliance Is a Necessity

Are there any legal or compliance considerations for political SMS campaigns? Yes, there are legal and compliance considerations for political SMS campaigns. Whether you're a big biz, a small brick-and-mortar shop, or a political candidate, you must comply with federal, state, and local regulations if you're texting people to market to them.

Political SMS campaign compliance, and all text marketing compliance, are mandated by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and other government regulations. Political text message compliance dictates that your campaign gain written consent through opt-ins, provide a way for contacts to opt-out, verify your identity, and only send texts during approved time frames (a good rule of thumb to follow is sending messages during business hours). Additionally, if your campaign uses a 10-digit long-code number (10DLC), it must go through A2P registration.

Thankfully, EZ Texting makes it easy to maintain political SMS campaign compliance. We offer simplified opt-outs through SafeSTOP, automated legal disclosures for new opt-ins, identity verification, and a guided A2P registration process.

The main takeaway is that compliance isn’t optional — it’s necessary. Complying with laws and regulations means consistent and trusted messaging for your voter base.

 

Analytics Inform Messaging Strategies

A marketing strategy without analytics is like driving without reading the road signs. Businesses must read the signs of customer perception, behavior, and feedback and adjust accordingly.

How can data analytics be used to optimize political text message campaigns? Data analytics can optimize political text message campaigns by tracking click-through rates, response rates, event signups, volunteer recruitment levels, opt-outs, and more. By tracking these metrics, text messaging for political campaigns becomes a more transparent process in which you can use tangible data to inform your strategy.

If one of these factors isn’t hitting the mark, conduct A/B testing, where you send the same group slightly different messages, changing a CTA, tone of voice, or even the time you send the text.

Every political campaign messaging strategy should leverage the analytics and reporting tool available for a bird’s-eye view of their SMS campaign and its performance.

Ready to Text? How to Get Started

Now it’s time to implement these insights in your own texting strategy. We’ve laid out all the steps right here.

Image of voter wearing an I Voted sticker and checking a text on their phone

 

Build a Voter Contact Plan

First, you need to create a voter contact plan for text banking. (Text banking is another term for communicating with voters through SMS.) From acquiring more contacts to pinpointing your target voters to building your messaging timeline, here are all the steps to building a voter contact plan.

 

Craft Compelling Messages

Write messages for every stage in your messaging timeline and messages to be sent according to certain interactions from your contacts. You might wonder, “What are some examples of effective political text messages?” Some examples of effective political text messages include donation requests, sharing educational and informative resources, GOTV messages, and voting reminders. For specifics, check out our list of winning political text message examples.

If you’re planning on using AI, don’t miss our tips on how to rewrite AI-generated content to add more humanity.

 

EZ Texting Is Your Political Text Marketing Solution

Whether red or blue, local or national, political campaigns can all learn from businesses that have leveraged text message marketing. But you don’t need to go it alone — EZ Texting is here to help with text messaging for political campaigns. We offer everything you need for a successful text marketing strategy, from short codes for mass texting at scale to contact list growth tools to broaden your reach. Start using our SMS messaging platform today with a free trial.

Effortless Political Texting Starts Here

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

GET STARTED

FAQs

Yes, text messaging can — and should — be integrated with other campaign channels. Pair text messaging for political campaigns with social media posts and advertising, email marketing, phone banking, in-person canvassing and events, and website promotion to amplify your messages and reach a wider audience.

Political text message campaigns cost varying amounts depending on what text messaging platform and SMS features you use. Generally speaking, political SMS campaigns are cost-effective because they reach more people faster than other communication channels.

Campaigns can measure the success of their text message strategies by tracking key metrics, including click-through rates, website visits, opt-ins, opt-outs, volunteer sign-ups, event registrations, and more.

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