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Bulk SMS For Election Campaigns Best Practices

Bulk SMS For Election Campaigns Best Practices

Learn the do's and don't of political text messages including case study examples of successful political campaign text messages from the last election.

Over the last few election cycles, we’ve seen narrow races that prove every vote counts.

With more and more young people registering to vote each day, the best way to reach constituents has evolved.

According to a New York Times article by one political operative, no one under the age of 45 wants a phone call. In fact, it may even have the opposite intended effect labeling the campaign’s marketing efforts as bothersome and annoying vs. involved and caring.

For candidates looking to create a personal relationship with voters without coming across like a telemarketer, texting is the ideal middle ground. Achieve the same reach with none of the interruption.

As valuable as SMS is, it’s still possible to mismanage your messaging and annoy your supporters. To prevent this, we’ll share some helpful guidelines we’ve gathered after many years of providing a platform for campaigns around the country.

Is It Legal To Send Political Text Messages?

The short answer—yes. Texts that are political or election-based in nature are legal. However, there are certain actions you can take that can make your texts illegal. 

It can all be boiled down to the basic guidelines of consent. We’ve written a guide with everything you need to know about compliant text marketing that you can read here. But there are a few key elements especially pertinent to political text messages we’ll highlight now:

  • You cannot purchase a list of random phone numbers to text
  • Messages that were sent with an auto dialer system are illegal unless the recipient gave their prior expressed consent to be marketed to
  • You must clearly state the identity of the business, individual, or other entity sending the text at the beginning of the message

💡Disclaimer: Please note that this advice is for informational purposes only and is neither intended as nor should be substituted for consultation with appropriate legal counsel and/or your organization’s regulatory compliance team.

Election Bulk SMS Best Practice

While compliance is non-negotiable, there are some things we would encourage you to take just as seriously when it comes to sending political texts.

Some of the top reasons folks report unsubscribing to political text messages include:

  • They don’t feel comfortable sharing who or what they’re voting for
  • They find the frequency of the texts annoying
  • They receive messages they never signed up for in the first place

Now we know what you may be thinking. How is it legal to send a message to someone who never subscribed? 

Many political campaigns solicit volunteers to manually send messages from personal devices in order to work around the autodialer rule. However, this almost always works against them.

Those laws were put in place to protect people’s private information and to prevent unwanted spam. By texting someone who hasn’t signed up it makes your campaign seem shady.

Would you kick down someone’s door and ask them if they plan to vote for Jane Smith for Senate? If the answer is no, then you shouldn’t text them that either if they haven’t given you permission to do so. 

This kind of practice also results in hundreds of wasted hours reaching out to people who aren’t your advocates, and who now have a negative association with your campaign.

Photo Credit: Roanoke Times

When used properly, however, political texts can forge impactful connections. Here are just a few things to keep in mind before you hit send.

⭐️ Keep your frequency low
If you don’t have anything new to share, it’s best practice not to send a message. With political text messages especially it’s better to err on the side of infrequency.

⭐️ Personalize messages whenever possible
88% of marketers reported measurable improvements with their messages thanks to personalization. Something as simple as seeing their name could drive someone to open or click where they otherwise might not have.

⭐️Keep messages actionable
Recipients shouldn’t finish a message unclear on what you want them to do. A key to writing a strong political text message is ending it with something actionable. Something like: register to vote, vote for me on x/xx/xxxx, pledge your support, volunteer at this event, etc.

⭐️ Focus content on the recipient
Messages that add value to the recipient are often received more positively which is reflected by higher engagement and response rates. For example, send a message with a few trigger options asking the recipient to respond with the issue they’re most passionate about to learn about the candidate’s stance.

Today 12:25 PM
Hi Rachel. Thanks for subscribing to learn more about Scott for Senate. Reply with a topic from the issue tab on our website for more info.
Scott’s campaign is based on a single-payer, national health insurance program.

Case Study: Text Messages For Volunteers

An excellent example of a recent political text message campaign comes from the 2016 election. Field directors for Bernie Sanders’ campaign used text messages as a way to engage local supporters with volunteer opportunities at upcoming events.Their text messages resulted in 381 people showing up to Sanders’ first event in Oklahoma and then 338 people to the following event in Tulsa!

Photo Credit: Stones’ Phones

For more tips and tricks as well as sample text messages for political campaigns, check out our text message marketing for political campaigns guide here.

As the next election draws closer, remember you could be one text away from victory!

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