Every two years, political texting starts to ramp up as campaigns work to get out the vote. And just as every vote counts, so too does every texting campaign. Even a few dozen texts to high-priority contacts can tip election results in your favor!
But political texting can take time, so it’s best to start as soon as possible. Follow these 10 do’s and don’ts of political texting to fast-track your voter outreach:
1. DO: Register for 10DLC
10DLC is short for “10-digital long code,” but also refers to app-to-peer texting (i.e. Peer-to-Peer Texting and Broadcast Texting) regulations enforced by mobile carriers. Although these regulations do add a few inconvenient extra steps to your overall texting experience, skipping this crucial step may end up hurting your political texting campaigns in the long run — you may face fines or lower text delivery rates if you don’t register.
On Impactive, note that 10DLC registration is strongly recommended for Peer-to-Peer Texting and required for Broadcast Texting. Start the registration process right away to reduce any texting delays. (We’ll facilitate the registration process for your campaign if you’re using Peer-to-Peer Texting or Broadcast Texting.)
2. DON’T: Send texts during off-hours
There isn’t exactly an industry standard on the best times to engage in political texting, but it's universally understood that campaigns shouldn't send political texts at night: between 9 p.m. and 9 a.m local time. Texting during off-hours is nonoptimal anyways, but sending texts during these hours is actually an FCC violation and causes trouble for your texting campaign.
So if you’re running a campaign across more than one time zone, always check the local time before scheduling your text bank.
3. DO: Perfect your initial outbound script
You only have a few seconds after a voter opens your text message to make an impression. Capture their attention by keeping your initial script simple and to the point, and allow space in the script for volunteers to introduce themselves. For example, start a texting script with “Hey [name], it’s Jordan from [campaign name].”
Identifying the sender is crucial to ensure texting success, as voters won’t trust your text if it seems like it was sent by a bot. This practice can increase your texting performance since voters are more likely to respond when they can trust the source of the text. It's also a 10DLC guideline, and failure to follow this best practice can even result in lower throughput or paused delivery.
You can also help optimize your texting campaign by testing multiple scripts to see whether factors like text length, tone, emojis, or MMS additions impact response rate.
4. DON’T: Include links in an initial peer-to-peer text
When creating your peer-to-peer texting campaigns, you should refrain from adding links in the initial messaging scripts. This may seem appealing as the quickest way to convey information, but doing so can result in your messaging being flagged as spam. Instead, you can start your political texting conversations with a direct invitation for the voter to respond, such as: “Can you chip in $5 to help us reach our fundraising goal?” or “Can we count on you to be an early voter for Candidate Name?”. You can then follow up with the relevant link after the contact responds affirmatively.
5. DO: Host text banking parties
The digital nature of political texting has its pros and cons. Texting allows volunteers to get involved in a campaign directly from their homes, but lacks the social connection to other volunteers that an in-person volunteer event might provide.
But there’s an easy fix to this — host virtual or in-person text banking parties to allow texters to connect with each other. Amp up the fun by playing music, preparing icebreaker questions, and more. Get creative with ways to increase volunteer engagement! Text banking parties also offer volunteers a space to get answers to their questions in real-time. Volunteers will stay involved with your campaign over time if their opportunities to engage are fun and easy.
6. DON’T: Forget to ask texters to fill reports
Sending texts is only one part of voter outreach. It’s essential that texters fill out a report after their conversation with a voter. After all, this is how your campaign will get and track data on outreach efforts. To maximize the number of reports received, remind texters before, during, and after each text bank to fill out reports on their contacts.
Depending on your political texting software, you’ll be able to sync this information back to your CRM system. (At Impactive, campaigns can set up an integration to NGP VAN for quick and easy data syncing.)
Political texting is one of the best innovations for campaigns to communicate with voters. Use these tips to improve your performance and increase voter turnout!