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Nothing is more annoying than listening to a ring tone while waiting for someone to pick up the phone. Now imagine doing that for 5 hours straight, sometimes even longer. That's what most phone banking volunteers are facing during GOTV and outreach campaigns.

If you are running a grassroots advocacy campaign, it becomes even more important that the volunteers who are calling have a better experience as you'd definitely want them to come back and support again.

You could use a predictive dialer and improve the calling experience for your volunteers, but predictive dialing has it limitations. For starters, you may not want to be using a dialer to stay within regulations. Secondly, if the cost of not reaching a voter is high, a predictive dialer could increase that cost.

So how do you maximize the number of calls picked up? There are quite a few factors that affect answer rate. For starters it could be the caller ID. The person you're calling could be wary of unknown numbers especially of those outside of their area. Using a local presence dialer could help you with that issue.

Another obvious reason is that the person you are calling is otherwise engaged. Most people are routine bound. They travel to work at the same time, they have similar working hours and they come home around the same time. When you group similar people together, you'll be able to map out their routines. Understanding these patterns will help you find the best times to call.

Now what if you're not very sure about the patterns of people you're calling. We take advantage of past historical data to guide us. If the data says that calling at 5pm improved your chances of reaching someone then calling them again around the same time should have a similar impact on the answer rate.

We looked at historical data of the calls made to U.S. contacts in 2016. These calls were only analyzed by the time at which they were called. The time zone they are in was factored in to get the accurate time at which they answered the phone. We compared these answered calls to all the calls that weren't answered to give you a pretty good guide on finding the best times to call your contact.

Irrespective of the day of the week or the time, we have a recommendation that will help you optimize your political calling campaigns.

Let's make this easier for you

Some of these recommendations would not be ideal for your campaign. Maybe you don't have enough volunteers or your campaign is in a hurry. What if the people you're calling aren't based in the US? What if you want a more specific recommendation of times to call? We've built a plugin called the Smart Scheduler that analyses your contact phonebook and predictively recommends the best time to call each contact. These time slots are grouped together to recommend the best slots to schedule your campaign at.

The smart scheduler works on all call center and voice broadcasting campaigns. If you need more predictive analysis in your life as opposed to hopeful guesses, talk to us about how we can help improve the success of your campaigns.

Learn more through text

Growing your campaign involves developing a concrete supporter database that you can engage and reach out to as part of your campaigning efforts. The easiest way to convert the energy of your supporters into tangible supporter action is to engage each of them personally. Collecting data through SMS uses the mobile platform to engage and collect data from your contacts.

Combine texting with automation and you get CallHub’s data collection feature. Have multiple interactive conversations with your contacts and collect data through a sequence of automated messages. You can use eleven preset prompts or create your custom prompts for data collection. Use the collected data to guide your future campaigns.

Augustus is founder and CEO of CallHub.io, a California-based Voice and SMS service company bridging the communication gap for political campaigns, advocacy groups and nonprofits. When he is not working, he is either making toys with his kids or training for a marathon. Find him on Twitter or LinkedIn.