SMS; shaking up political campaigning and government communication

Over the years, government bodies and officials have looked to diversify their communication with the broader public. As society evolves with emerging technologies, government institutions must continue to expand their community engagement tactics. Conveying messages via digital channels is one way public sectors are modernizing their communication strategies.

In the public sector, it’s vital to keep staff, constituents, and citizens informed and up to date. From crisis alerts and public education to political campaigning, mobile messaging has become a preferred communication channel for government organizations.

Text messages are innately direct and accessible—ensuring SMS alerts and other critical information is received promptly. Governments can reach recipients locally and nation-wide, depending on the use case, with SMS to supplement traditional communication channels and public support systems.

In an emergency or in time-sensitive situations, individuals rely on real-time communication from government organizations. SMS provides the public sector with a reliable and straightforward messaging channel. Secure and concise, SMS facilitates efficient and prompt community updates.

By utilizing bulk SMS software, governments are equipped with the power of mass communication. Through a web-based SMS platform like SMSGlobal, organizations can send tens, hundreds, and even thousands of critical messages at once.

Emergency alerts

Effective disaster management consists of preparation, resource coordination, and consistent communication. Notify communities at every stage of an emergency. By distributing information, providing access to support, and issuing timely warnings, SMS alerts can inform those who need it most.

Dangerous weather condition updates

Updates and warnings of hazardous weather conditions are crucial to public safety and emergency service response. Advising communities of impending threats to safety and ongoing management processes via SMS ensures all parties are prepared.

During floods, hurricanes, bushfires, and other natural disasters, internet connections are often unreliable. With the ability to function without internet access, SMS is a practical and reliable form of emergency communication.

Related: ‘Can emergency SMS notifications save lives?’

Internal communications

Government staff must be up-to-date on key issues, events, and day-to-day operations. Public sectors can facilitate a range of communications through SMS. From event reminders and daily reporting to announcements and updates. With enterprise text messaging, organizations of all sizes can streamline internal communications and ensure that everyone is always informed.

Public education

During times of significant change or uncertainty, communicating accurate information is essential. The COVID-19 pandemic is a primary example of this need.

Throughout COVID-19, real-time communication like SMS has been critical for distributing health advice and changes to restrictions. With 82% of US smartphone owners opening every text message they receive, SMS alerts can provide timely updates to as many people as possible.

Ticketing systems

The public sector is often inundated with questions and queries. Traditional support channels like phone calls and emails usually take up valuable time and human resources. Now, many public sectors employ SMS ticketing systems and self-serve menus to provide efficient support and filter requests.

Through a robust SMS gateway, organizations can set up automated menus for inbound support queries. Users are presented with a list of options to choose from and asked to reply with the corresponding keyword. Depending on the selection, the reply may answer the user’s question or direct them to the appropriate department for further support.

Community feedback

Text messages are an accessible platform for government organizations to conduct surveys and gather feedback. Plus, sending SMS notifications and reminders has shown to be effective in increasing survey responses and cooperation rates.

Encouraging community members to share feedback is just as important as keeping them informed. Many public services conduct satisfaction surveys and polls to involve the broader community and gauge public opinion on particular issues.

From surveying government performance to political campaign issues, SMS polls allow organizations to collect insights and data through a reliable and streamlined channel.

Related: ‘Why SMS is an ideal tool for customer surveys

Political parties are increasingly adopting SMS as an integral campaign tool. As people spend more and more time on mobile devices, SMS has become the most effective way for political parties to reach potential voters. Recipients are also more likely to read announcements via text message compared to other platforms, with Americans checking their phones around 96 times a day.

While utilizing channels that effectively capture consumer attention is vital to business success. Political campaigning is no different, and perhaps even more challenging.

Political parties must find ways to compete with floods of conflicting information permeating social media. Through SMS alerts and announcements, parties can influence contacts directly and cut through the noise of other channels.

With COVID-19 restricting this year’s USA presidential candidates from holding in-person events, SMS has been invaluable for rallying voters and communicating policies. Joe Biden announced Kamala Harris as his 2020 election running mate via SMS before announcing the news anywhere else. And, the Trump campaign utilizes SMS to advertise upcoming events, request donations, and maintain connections with potential voters.

Personalizing campaigns

SMS software can enhance political campaigns with features such as automation, message customization, and contact segmentation. With SMS automation and keyword trigger responses, political groups ensure their contacts receive prompt updates and relevant responses.

Additionally, Merge Send and segmentation provides seamless personalization to bulk campaigns. Organizations can segment contacts into groups such as local government areas and occupations. And make a more significant impact on recipients by inputting contact names or localized events.

Political parties use SMS for everyday campaigning, such as:

  • Voting day reminders
  • Mobile surveys and polls
  • Event and rally notifications
  • Staff communications
  • Volunteer coordination
  • Election news alerts
  • Policy updates

How do politicians send you text messages?

Like any other bulk SMS campaign, political campaigns require recipients to opt-in to their database. Individuals must subscribe to a contact list, usually by submitting an online form or texting a keyword to a Dedicated Virtual Number. From there, recipients will receive communications from the political party with the option to opt-out at any time.

Campaign databases are managed through an SMS gateway. Organizations can track message status, SMS delivery, and campaign success by utilizing reporting functions. With robust features like scheduling, segmentation, and automation, bulk SMS messages are sent to the right contacts at the perfect time.

Application-to-Person (A2P) messaging

Political campaigns use A2P platforms to send bulk messages and campaigns via opt-ins. In the USA, especially, there are strict regulations regarding SMS compliance. Organizations must adhere to the Telephone Communications Protection Act and CTIA guidelines by ensuring all contacts in their bulk SMS campaigns have opted-in.

Once contacts have opted-in, political parties can then send bulk SMS messages through an A2P platform. Every text message must also include an option to opt-out of future correspondence at any time, according to federal guidelines.

Examples of A2P SMS in political campaigns:

Hi Robert, thanks for coming to our event yesterday! Reply ‘YES2020’ to continue receiving campaign updates via SMS or ‘STOP’ to opt out.
[City name]! The polls are open until 7 pm. Make sure you have your voice heard! VOTE [NAME]. Find your closest polling center here: http://linkname.
Today, I announced my plans to increase education funding if we win the election. Reply YES if you agree and NO if you disagree.

Peer-to-Peer

Due to a loop-hole in US regulations, political parties can send messages to recipients without having to opt-in via peer to peer SMS. Text messages have to be sent by an individual to another individual, like texting a friend or colleague. Each text must be sent individually from a long code virtual number with content specific to the recipient and include information about the sender (e.g. their name).

In many cases, political parties buy contact lists or pull phone numbers from public voter registration databases. Campaign volunteers send SMS through their mobile devices, sometimes without a contact’s consent. While this method is an easy way to reach large lists of contacts, sending text campaigns without consent can break trust with recipients.

Examples of P2P SMS in political campaigns:

Hi Jim, I’m Kate! I support [political candidate] and wanted to let you know that ***
Hi! I’m Jason, and I just wanted to let you know that polls open at 6am this Friday—don’t forget to vote! If you need anything, feel free to reply via SMS.

Text messaging and trust

SMS campaigns are more effective and fruitful when messaging people who have explicitly registered their interest to engage with a political party. When community members opt-in to receive SMS, they are more likely to open messages, reply, and respond to calls to action.

For successful SMS campaigns, organizations must ensure their campaigns are fully compliant with each region’s legal regulations that they’re sending to. SMSGlobal’s sophisticated MXT platform guarantees SMS campaigns are compliant with local and national law, regarding spam, restricted advertising, and opt-out options.

Related: ‘Are your mobile marketing campaigns compliant?