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During the Democratic Party Convention of 2008, many Americans waited breathlessly for candidate Barack Obama to announce his choice for filling the Vice President slot on the ticket. With reporters mulling around a press room and Americans glued to their television sets, anticipation ran high as everyone wondered what Obama planned to announce from the podium. However, Obama did not make his announcement in person.

Instead, he used a digital marketing tactic called text marketing for political campaigns.

Presidential candidate Obama not only texted his choice of Joe Biden to fill the vice presidential slot on the ticket to reporters, he also sent his text message out to more than three registered Democratic Party voters.

The SMS marketing software used by the Obama campaign dramatically changed the political game. Four years later, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney made SMS marketing the focal point of his campaign’s "Get Out the Vote” strategy. And now, while President Donald Trump might be known for his tweets, he has also leveraged text message marketing for political campaigns to its highest level of effectiveness.

Texting can be a crucial tool during an election or political event. The time has come to make a texting platform the marketing backbone of your campaign.

Benefits of Text Messaging for Political Campaigns

Considered the most popular form of communication in the 21st century, texting delivers numerous benefits for political campaigns. Nearly everyone has access to a smartphone or other cellular device, increasing your coverage and potential voter base. Texting is also easy to use, effective, and efficient. But these are just a few benefits— read on to learn about even more benefits of text message marketing.

High Open Rates

Different studies list different open rates for text messages, but all open rates reported are higher than any other communication medium. At least 90 percent of the text messages you send are read by subscribers. This is three times the average open rate for emails, which either go directly to a spam folder or are quickly deleted. These statistics emphasize the power of texting.

Real Time Marketing

You send a tweet, and then you wait for responses. A social media post goes unnoticed for a few hours. Even an email can sit in your inbox for several hours before you read it.

Texting is not the same. In fact, SMS marketing for political campaigns is a highly effective promotional tool because subscribers receive and, more importantly, read the messages in real time. This means that people receive time-sensitive information while it’s most valuable, can attend local pop-up campaign activities, and volunteer positions can be quickly filled.

Affordable for Everyone

As opposed to installing an elaborate and costly software system to promote a candidate, text message marketing for political campaigns just requires something virtually every one of your potential voters already owns: a smartphone.

You don’t have to spend tons of much-needed campaign funds to sign up with an SMS provider. SMS messaging is affordable, flexible, and often pay-as-you-go, meaning you don’t have to pay for short codes you’re not using.

Customizable Features

Campaigns aren’t one-size-fits-all, and why should your texting platform be? With customizable features, SMS marketing is equipped to meet the unique needs of every campaign. You can create a platform that caters to groups of people, specific locations, and more.

Using customizable templates, fields, and keywords, your campaign will easily be able to leverage texts into votes.

Getting Started with SMS Marketing for Political Campaigns

To get started with SMS marketing, find the provider that offers affordable packages with the features you need to succeed. Are you a local candidate running for office? Analytics tracking helps you make the most impact in the least amount of time. Are you trying to gain support for an international initiative? Global reach is going to be important. Do you work for a variety of campaigns? Make sure your SMS service is also MMS enabled.

Sign up with the platform that best suits your needs, pick out a short code, and keep reading to learn how to optimize your campaigns.

It Starts with Keywords

Every campaign should involve a keyword that is catchy and easy to remember. Keywords can be words, a combination of words and numbers, and even emojis. For example, a campaign planning an outdoor rally might ask users to confirm their attendance by texting the keyword RALLY, TIME2VOTE, or a ballot box emoji. Every major event or campaign you schedule should have a corresponding keyword to keep voters in the communication loop.

Auto Reply to New Subscribers

Every voter wants to be recognized and using an auto reply for new and current subscribers is a great tip for running an effective political campaign. By sending an automatic welcome message to every new subscriber, you immediately build the personal connection required to move potential voters into the “Yes” column. Your auto responder message should include a warm welcome and important opt-in and opt-out information.

For current subscribers, you can link auto replies to specific keywords. For example, you can set up your SMS program to send a short summary of or links to you or your candidate’s political stances in response to the keyword ISSUES.

Advertise Your Texting List

Running a political campaign requires putting a candidate in the best possible publicity light for potential voters to see. Use the same approach to highlight your campaign’s texting platform.

Information about your SMS list and how to opt-in can be integrated into almost any other marketing material, medium, or platform. Here are several ideas to promote your SMS marketing program:

  • Lawn signs
  • Rally or event flyers
  • Press conferences
  • Political rallies and other events
  • Special donor events
  • Bumper stickers
  • Campaign websites
  • Pins and buttons

Texting Ideas for Political Campaigns

You can use SMS marketing for almost anything related to your political campaign, from gathering grassroots support to hosting fundraisers for a frontrunner. If you have a vision, SMS can make it happen. But if you need a creative head start, we’ve gathered some ideas for you below.

Remember to Vote

You can’t afford to take registered voters of your political party for granted. By sending out voting day reminders and information on registering and finding your voting location, you can build your organization’s credibility while also keeping your campaign on the minds of voters.

You can also reach out to unregistered voters that have expressed interest or may still be unsure. Send them valuable resources, and in doing so present yourself as a reliable source.

Campaign Announcements

Barack Obama showed the world how a texting platform can share important news, such as the selection of a running mate. SMS messaging allows your campaign to make important announcements in real time, whether you want to disclose a new policy or update subscribers about the results of the most recently released political poll. Texts are also a way to reach voters who may not have access to email or other communication mediums.

Special Event Notifications

Political campaigns are all about exposure. Running special events like a fundraiser at a city park or a dinner held at a large banquet hall can make the difference between a successful and unsuccessful political campaign. Texting gives your campaign a powerful communication tool to notify your subscribers about upcoming special events.

And after the event is complete, you can send out pictures and videos of the event. Those who may not have been able to attend will appreciate this, while those who did attend can post the pictures on their own social media.

Get the Most Out of Dash Notify

Whether you’re a local candidate running for re-election or a presidential hopeful getting ready for the primaries, political campaigns need every communication tool available to them. By signing up with Dash Notify, your campaign can leverage a powerful texting platform. We offer a scalable platform, global reach, 24/7 customer support, and affordable pricing. Contact us today to learn more about how you can expand your voter base.