Political phone banking is a fundamental tool used by electoral campaigns for decades. It’s an easy and effective way to persuade voters, fundraise, and share essential information like polling locations. Studies have even shown that political phone banking can produce more consistently positive results than door-to-door canvassing! 

Political phone banking takes more than simply calling a list of voters. Like any organizing effort, planning a phone bank requires a dedicated strategy. Here are some tips that electoral campaigns can follow to upgrade their political phone banking approach:

Think like a voter.

It’s easy to get tunnel vision when there’s a goal to accomplish, and organizers can run into the trap of ruminating endlessly about the most effective way to write a script. But to create effective scripts, organizers can simply consider the perspective of a voter. For example, a script with long paragraphs describing the campaign's goals and mission may feel persuasive, but will voters have the patience to listen to callers go on and on for minutes? Keep scripts succinct and conversational, and read them out loud to friends and family to gather feedback on how engaging they are. 

Train volunteers to stay conversational.

Political phone banking can run the risk of feeling very transactional. Ultimately, campaigns are making a specific ask of voters: register to vote, vote for our candidate, donate money, and more. However, one clear way to mitigate this feeling is to emphasize relationship-building rather than achieving the goal at hand. Is a voter more likely to listen to a caller who sounds cheery and conversational or someone who is clearly reading from a script? Share messaging scripts with callers before a phone bank, so they have plenty of time to practice what to say. Plus, encourage volunteers to smile when they speak: voters will hear the smile in their voice and be more likely to respond positively.

Segment your contacts.

Every voter has a different relationship to the campaign. For example, people that regularly vote in local, general, or off-year elections are more likely to be receptive to discussing issue-based messaging points. On the other hand, first-time or infrequent voters need more persuasion on why they should vote at all. Make sure to customize scripts to different audiences based on their relative positioning to the campaign.

Create a clear goal.

What is the purpose of your political phone banking campaign? Is it to get out the vote, persuade people to vote for your candidate, or to fundraise? Naturally, it feels easier to link multiple goals in one messaging script. An enthusiastic voter could be persuaded to show up at the polls, vote for their candidate, and become a volunteer in one call. However, it’s more likely that the campaign will need to contact voters multiple times in their supporter journey to hit all of these goals. Plus, too many objectives for one phone call can lead to unrealistic expectations and low morale for volunteers. Create better connections and phone banking expectations by focusing on a clear primary goal, then relegating other objectives to secondary or tertiary goals. 

Host phone banks in sessions.

The main benefit of phone banking is that callers can phone bank anywhere, unlike door-to-door canvassing that requires presence in a neighborhood. However, gathering callers in one space (whether in-person or virtual) provides many benefits. Callers can ask questions and receive answers much more quickly, feel a sense of community, and share tips and feedback amongst each other. Some ways to easily set up phone banking sessions include: planning a Zoom meeting for anyone to join, hosting in-person gatherings at headquarters, or asking community leaders to host small gatherings at their houses (when COVID-safe, of course).

Combine SMS follow-up after a phone call.

One of the key tenets of relationships building is multiple touchpoints with a volunteer. After a phone call, how will the campaign stay in touch with contacts? For example, voters that express interest in abortion rights during a call may be interested in receiving information about what kind of policies a candidate aims to introduce. Combine political texting with phone banking to send follow-up messages that seamlessly continue conversations after initial outreach. 

Be receptive to feedback and outcomes.

A phone bank can be meticulously planned, but this doesn’t mean that everything will go according to the plan. One of the best ways to upgrade political phone banking strategies is to stay flexible. Perhaps the prepared messaging scripts aren’t as engaging voters as expected, but a caller goes off-script and finds better messaging points that resonate with contacts. In this case, campaigns will want to be flexible and adapt to this new information. Be sure to pay attention to how voters engage with callers and stay innovative by remaining open to changes that can make outreach more engaging. (On Impactive, organizers can even edit scripts during live phone banks without pausing the session!)

Bonus: Leverage relational organizing for the most effective engagement. 

Relational organizing is the most effective way to get people to take action. Studies from Columbia Data Science Institute found that a friend-to-friend text via Impactive increased the likelihood to vote by 8.3%! This method of outreach can also feel the most comfortable for callers since they are reaching out to those who they know best. Start each phone banking session with an allotted time for callers to ring their friends, family, neighbors, and others. 

Impactive’s Political Phone Banking Tool

Impactive’s predictive dialer brings unprecedented advancements to political phone banks. Organizers can easily plan and scale phone banking campaigns using a user-friendly script builder (with no IF/THEN statements), while volunteers can phone bank on mobile and web devices. Learn more about Phone Banking on Impactive here

For the foreseeable future, political phone banking will remain a staple for successful political organizing. Try these tips to upgrade your phone banking strategy and successfully elect your candidate!

Jan 24, 2022
Tools & Tech