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Five Crucial Tips for a Successful SMS Campaign for Advocacy Groups

August 15, 2022

Five Crucial Tips for a Successful SMS Campaign for Advocacy Groups

10 min read

When it comes to advocacy groups and affecting change, text messaging is one of the tactics that you can use to move your organization forward.

With a text message, you can compose a quick bite of information, hit the send button, and within a few minutes, you’ll know that message is getting through and being read by thousands of your concerned constituents.

In fact, SMS advocacy campaigns can be used for the following:

  • Petitions
  • Click to call 
  • Meeting attendance 
  • Fundraising 

     And much more.

In this post, we’ve partnered with digital advocacy software company OneClickPolitics to bring you the smart ways your organization can use text messaging campaigns to direct lobbying teams in a meaningful way. 

Best of all, these tips are designed to help not only your advocacy and fundraising operations, but political operations as well. 

Tip #1: Segmentation is critical

Organizations need to target the right message to the right person using segmentation. It takes time to get it right, but when it happens, you'll see a noticeable impact on return on investment (ROI). 

Text messaging is personal. In this instance, consider buyer directional engagement. If people have questions about your message, or they want to engage in a real conversation, that's important for moving the needle forward. 

Some organizations make the mistake of “spray and pray”, where they send out notifications that aren't personalized, aren't tailored to the specific audience, and ignore inbound questions. That produces a poor ROI.

If organizations take the time to personalize each outbound text, such as using someone's first name, data for many advocacy campaigns shows a significant increase in engagement.

Tip #2: Be brief, timely, and relevant

With texting for advocacy, being timely with your messages is important. 

Text messages are read within three minutes of receipt, and on top of that, 90% of texts are read within the first three minutes of delivery. There is no other medium that produces similar instantaneous engagement. 

Therefore, coming up with relevant topics and being timely with your texts help with engagement. 

The most effective texts are the ones that capitalize on what's going on in the 24-hour news cycle, such as relevant breaking news events.

It’s good to combine those texts with relevant news that your audience can relate to. Within the text, you can tie it to a specific advocacy issue that your audience has been made aware of.

For example, if your organization has a news story about the infrastructure bill, send it on the day it’s released, not a week or a month later.

Tip #4: Utilize omnichannel strategies

If your advocacy group is not pursuing omnichannel strategies for outreach, your campaign won’t be as effective.

Within advocacy or political campaigns, the more channels you have to reach your intended audience, the more effective your campaign will be.

Omnichannel can include methods like email, text messaging, direct mail, phone calls, and video.

Of course, email continues to be king. Building a proper foundation for your campaign using email means other omnichannel communications will tie into your email framework.

With email, it’s important to conduct list hygiene, have data enhancements, and use third-party services to ensure your list has valuable metrics on the people in your database. 

Beyond email, texting is crucial to communicate with your audience. But remember - email and text are two very different channels. 

When using email and SMS, you have two touchpoints to connect with your constituents instead of one. 

It’s important to break down your audiences based on different co-issue groups in order to maximize your messaging effectiveness.

You should do this for both email and text messaging because the more granular you are, the higher your conversion rates will be.

Phone calls and videos are also effective for outreach. With a phone call, they're hearing from the live voice of their constituent.  In a video, your audience is hearing the raw unfiltered version of what that person has to say, which builds trust and rapport.

Tip #5: Fax it (if it’s possible)

Yes, most congressional offices and state legislative offices still have a fax machine! Even though it's considered “old school”, it's still an effective mechanism to reach people.

And that's one of the reasons why you should still use it. 

Organizations can have faxing implemented as an automatic tool that accompanies every email sent.

There are platforms, like OneClickPolitcs, that will send an email. Then, for whatever reason, if that email is taking too long to reach a lawmaker, or they change their email address after a special election, then a fax will automatically be triggered to that office as a backup to the email. 

A lot of people say that direct mail is dead. This is not the case - it’s just less effective than it used to be. The reality is direct mail is still alive and is a viable option. However, digital is more important - and more effective - than it was 10 years ago. 

Nonetheless, direct mail is still effective in campaigns and it's the same way for faxes to lawmakers. 

It's part of a well-rounded omnichannel strategy because you want to make sure that your advocates will meet with lawmakers.

3 smart tips to help you plan a successful advocacy SMS campaign

  1. Use 10DLC

Organizations must register and verify themselves to use 10DLC (10-digit long code) to ensure their messages are delivered, and that carriers would know who is sending texts.

In the past, text messages that were sent in bulk would be subject to heavy carrier filtering and undelivered texts.

With the filtering and verification process, which can assist you with, carriers are allowing these registered text messages through.

It’s not foolproof. There are still filtering and blocking mechanisms in place from carriers, but text messages using 10DLC have a 90%-95% delivery rates. In some cases, the percentage is even higher. 

Organizations that embrace 10DLC texting are going to see much greater results.

For everything you need to know about 10DLC, download our free guide here.

  1. Optimize each text message

It’s important to create each message with the following in mind:

  • Make sure each message is personalized. To start, use the first name field to grab your constituents’ attention.
  • Take advantage of MMS (images, videos, GIFs) to ensure your message stands out.
  • Don't ask for money with every single text.
  • Ensure you're staffed appropriately so that you can have real conversations with constituents. When a person replies to your text, you need to take the time to have a substantive conversation when possible.

  1. Have a well-planned strategy

Focusing on a clear strategy will help you execute a successful text message campaign.

Remember to:

  • Know what your resources are
  • Know what your capabilities are
  • Match your resources to what you can actually achieve. 

If your organization is working with a smaller budget, then focus on the things you can do with that that also match your end goals.

If you've got a larger budget, then you can go omnichannel and have a wider range of touchpoints. 

Make sure that you have your resources aligned to your strategy, and start thinking about who you want to influence.

If you only have the budget to influence federal campaigns, then stick to that. For starters, you can focus on increasing your membership and raise funds that way.

You can always implement a state program when you have the resources to do so. 

At each stage of planning, ensure your resources align with your strategy for the best outcomes.

Don’t forget: Due to its immediate nature and the data it can provide, texting is worth its weight in gold and should be part of your organization’s advocacy, fundraising, and political efforts. 

To see how text messaging can help your advocacy mission, click here to chat with one of our experts. Our in-house specialists deeply understand the unique needs of the advocacy space. We’ll work with you as your texting partner to get great results and drive meaningful impact for your organization.

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