Although, there is a bit of confusion about the different types of text messaging, different vendors in the space, and how peer to peer (P2P) texting can be used for campaigns.
Opt-in texting vs. peer to peer (P2P)
One question many start asking immediately is if they need permission from the individual who’s receiving the text. That answer is no. Peer to peer texting utilizes an online system for an individual to click “send” over and over to a list of voters who have not opted-in to receive a text message.
The campaign volunteer must click send for every individual message. This process cannot be automated or the software could be considered an autodialer that was banned under a 1991 federal law. Using P2P texting can prove to be extremely successful because typically more than 50% of a voter file has a cell phone number on file.
The Trump campaign and other organizations do utilize opt-in texting that requires an individual to agree to be texted. Wireless carriers treat P2P and A2P (application-to-person) texting differently in terms of the type and volume of traffic allowed. Properly using phone numbers and shortcodes is important to ensure you’re staying compliant with the law.
One elephant in the room that not every vendor discusses is deliverability. Just like email, it isn’t valuable to your campaign to send a text message that never gets delivered.
Text messages are subject to being filtered by telephone carriers who are trying to limit spam. There are many factors that can hurt deliverability including the improper use of links, not including a contact and/or agent name, and long scripts.
Your texting platform itself can also negatively impact deliverability. It’s very important you consider this if you want to use P2P texting. You should ask your provider for a deliverability report to ensure that voters are seeing your messages.
Peer to peer texting use cases
Get out the vote (GOTV)
Peer to peer texting is built extremely well for Get Out the Vote (GOTV) operations. Over 90% of text messages are opened in the first three minutes. According to the Democrat National Committee, they have found that text messages can see a 12-25% reply rate and an 8-10% action rate.
Texting is generally seen as much less intrusive than a door knock or phone call. Campaigns can use P2P texting to offer transportation to the polls, inform a voter of their polling location, and answer questions about a particular candidate before that individual goes to vote.
Many people do not vote because they either forget about it or don’t know where to do so. You can microtarget your voter file to focus on people who you believe will vote for your candidate if they vote and help ensure these individuals come out on election day!
Awareness and persuasion
Campaigns have used door knocking and phone calls to build awareness for their candidate and convince voters to vote for their candidate for many years. The same can be done with P2P texting!
Many campaigns have begun using Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) to send image texts to voters that can include content like a banner about their candidate. In some ways, this is the new way of handing someone a palm card.
A text as simple as “Hey, my name is John Smith and I’m running to represent you in the State Senate. I’m just reaching out to you to connect and see what issues you care about” can go a long way towards building a relationship with that voter to convince them to vote for you. This initial text can also start a dialogue that may end with you being able to persuade them to change their vote.
Many only think of A2P text messages, but P2P text messaging can work too for fundraising.
Let’s say you sent someone a direct mail fundraising piece and have their cell phone number, but they never opted-in to receive a text message. You can use a P2P text message to inform them that you sent a mail piece and to ask if they received it.
Data suggests that texting and emailing does not hurt direct mail contributions. Omnichannel donors, on average, give $207 compared to just on or offline donors who give $79.
Peer to peer vendors and pricing
Peer to peer text messaging is a very affordable medium. The cost of sending a text can range from $0.03 to $0.13 per message depending on the vendor and their pricing model. Remember though: Deliverability is an important part of the equation.
There are many P2P texting vendors out there right now. Anedot has direct integrations with companies like RumbleUp and i-360 that both offer P2P texting. CallHub is another affordable provider that is popular in the political space.
On the left, Hustle and GetThru are popular options. With the increased regulations involving texting, you should do your full due diligence on any platform you consider using. RumbleUp has a very good Medium post to consider some questions you should be asking your P2P texting vendor.