Political campaigns

How to Start Texting for Political Campaigns

A Peer to Peer texting strategy dramatically increases your campaign performance. It’s the best way to reach your audience to initiate 1:1 conversations, get the vote and increase donations.

But before you start texting, the most important step is to sign up and verify, and we’ll cover that below. Otherwise, unregistered political traffic will see extremely high filter rates and your messages will not be delivered.

Campaigns use P2P SMS in these five ways to win:

  • Use P2P SMS to get the vote
  • Promote fundraisers for your SMS campaign
  • Capture valuable data with surveys and research
  • Effortlessly send event invitations and updates
  • Build relationships and engage with your audience

We’ll start by showing you how to set up your campaign to send SMS, so you can take advantage of all these benefits. If you want more details on the use cases listed above, check out our other article on 5 Ways to Use P2P SMS Successfully.

Starting the verification process

First, you will need to obtain an authorization token from Campaign Verify. The campaign registry needs this token to successfully deliver your messages.

What is Campaign Verify and how does it work?

Campaign Verify is a non-profit, non-partisan service for US political campaigns, parties, tribal candidates, and PACs seeking to verify their identity and engage with voters via text messaging.

Having the authorization token tells The Campaign Registry that you are a legitimate agent of a legitimate political organization.

The Campaign Registry is the one that connects your verification to the mobile carriers, so if you’re good with them, you should be good with the carriers.

Verification costs $95 per request per 2-year election cycle. This is a mandatory step that your campaign must follow for Political SMS, otherwise the SMS you send may be filtered as spam and not delivered to your contacts.

Here’s how you can expect the verification process to go:

  1. Locate the deposit record: Make sure your committee’s filing record is with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) or relevant election authority. If it’s not there, you’ll have to file. Be sure to save the URL once you have it.
  2. Submit information: Log in to Campaign Verify and fill in your drop folder information, including the URL. Make sure the information you submit matches your filing record or you won’t be approved. From there, you will pay a fee for verification.
  3. Secret PIN code: Once a Campaign Verify staff member has reviewed and approved your information, you will receive a secret PIN via email or USPS.
  4. Authentication token: Once you receive your PIN, enter it into Campaign Verify. Now you will be able to generate secure authorization tokens to give to your text messaging service provider. This will be submitted to the campaign registry to unlock political posts and debits.
  5. Start texting: Your text messaging provider will be able to ensure trust in the texts you send and help prevent identity theft. Now that you have approval, you can text with confidence.

Important note: It takes at least a week to get your campaign set up to send SMS, and you’ll want to plan ahead. Planning ahead will be worth it for all the extra commitment you’ll get.

Political Texting Best Practices

When you start texting voters, focus on getting your campaign message across to stay with the right audience. Here are some best practices to keep in mind:

1. Encourage people to sign up

Your strongest engagement and highest delivery rates will come from opt-in contacts. Keywords are useful for generating lists of voters who want to hear from you, and you can always keep them updated.

When you text an initial invite, tell voters to respond with a keyword like EVENT so they receive the latest updates, such as:

  • Registration link
  • Location of the event
  • What to expect from the event

The keyword you use to get people to sign up, as well as any content you send them, can be about anything, like important dates or fundraising. You can also add an SMS Chat widget to your campaign/candidate website to have people text you directly from the site.

2. Text during times when people really want to engage

The time of day matters the most when you’re banking on engagement with your constituents. People are going to be too busy to respond throughout their work week, so it’s best to contact them after hours, and especially before important dates, like election day.

3. Create SMS templates

Text templates will save you a lot of time when contacting voters. In P2P SMS sending, you type the message once and click send for each contact in your list.

Templates help you keep communications consistent across users, whether you have just a few staff members working on that campaign or you have tons of full-timers and volunteers texting you.

Ready to start texting for your political campaign, but not sure where to start? Text Request has all the tools to help you start your P2P SMS campaign.