In 2016, a VoterTrove client asked me what I thought about peer-to-peer texting. I told him that I didn’t think texting would ever be an effective way to communicate with voters. I was REALLY, wrong.
Let me back up (already). For those of you unfamiliar with P2P, basically, it sits in a compliance gray area. The TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) prohibits sending mass, unsolicited text messages. So you can’t just click a button and set off a text tsunami to people who never said they wanted to hear from you…. BUT… you CAN send them one-by-one.
What does this mean in practice? Well, you can bring up a screen with a bunch of mobile numbers and a message queued up, and just click, click, click, click, click, click… okay point made.
Our clients have had the ability to send blast text messages from VoterTrove since 2014. To be honest, it was the least utilized tool on the platform. Why? We found out pretty quickly that nobody had opt-in mobile lists.
The client who asked about P2P was one of them. They had 10+ campaigns using our platform and never sent one text message.
So I guess after three years of making texting to opt-in lists available, with little use, I wasn’t so high on it. Now we are talking about sending UNSOLICITED text messages? Wut? No.
We knew it was legal, (thank you crack legal team), but I put myself in the place of an actual voter, getting a text message from a candidate they never heard of whilst eating an In-N-Out Burger, right after getting a passive aggressive text from their boss, all the while Johnny is putting Timmy in a sleeper hold in the back seat.
It just seemed that sending text messages to people who never opted-in was really intrusive and just a bad idea. I thought it would just piss them off, make them shake their fist at the sky, screaming “How did you get my number!”, french fry still stuck to their shirt.
You can ignore emails, you don’t have to answer your phone, but people don’t ignore text messages. They just don’t. I thought this was the problem, but actually, that’s why it works. I was really wrong.
Thankfully, my client didn’t listen to me. He went ahead and put in P2P programs for most of his campaigns. Over 95% of people opened those messages, nearly 20% RESPONDED. His volunteers were engaging with voters, getting folks to turn up at events, surveying them on issues, and even fundraising.
The mobile numbers were cheap and easy to get, and you could create audiences the same way you could for digital, or mail.
Do some people get angry? Yes, yes they do. But often, those that are initially upset, are won over once they realize they are having a conversation with a real person. Not only are they chatting with a human, but they are also chatting with a human in the same way they make dinner plans with friends, or coordinate picking up the kids with their spouse.
So… of course this ends with me telling you we can now offer P2P to our clients. At this time, it’s full-service only, but we aren’t too far away from making it available through our self-service platform. Since we’re using technology we’ve already built, we’re able to offer this service for far less than our competitors.