Text Messaging for Campaigns

Text messaging was all the rage in ’08.


Text messaging was all the rage in ’08. And with good reason—almost everyone under 45 sends and receives more text messages than phone calls, says Jed Alpert, and it’s the fastest growing communications sector for people over 65. Now it’s time for texting to take over local races.

 

Alpert, the CEO of Mobile Communications, appeared today on the “Text Messaging for Campaigns” panel at the Art of Political Campaigning conference. He emphasized the low cost of text messaging—studies have shown it costs just 13 cents per voter contact and $1.62 per turned-out vote, which easily beats out other, more established communications. And strategic text-messaging contact can drive up participation by four to seven percent.

 

Most text messages are viewed within 90 seconds of being received. And since people care their cell phones everywhere with them, advertising that includes a text-messaging contact allows voters to become active immediately, instead of having to head home to their computers.

 

Joining Alpert were two other big-name text-messaging consultant: Beaudon Spaulding, CEO of smsPolitical.com, and Kevin Bertram, CEO of Distributive Networks, which handled the text-messaging strategy for the Obama campaign.

 

That campaign showed creative ways to deal with one of the biggest challenges to the text-message platform: a contact list must always be built and never bought. That’s why interactive tie-ins, like the text updates on Obama’s vice presidential pick, help bring in contacts.

 

Another challenge for candidates is the cost. Bertram’s services cost Obama $600,000, and for statewide campaigns he charges $150,000. But lower-level candidates can share an SMS code—the five-digit number from which your texts originates—with other similar candidates. The panelists suggested sharing within a state party. But if you’re sharing an SMS code, you need to be careful that you know who else has it. Hillary Clinton didn’t—and it turned out that if you sent her the wrong message, you’d get a response back from a pro-life group. And for obvious reasons, that doesn’t play well with supporters.


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