Six Email And SMS Marketing Tactics for a Winning Political Advertising Campaign

January 12, 2024

The 2024 presidential race is on, and while campaign objectives will remain the same – raise money, get out the vote – the tactics for achieving them have shifted. With consumer habits and targeted ad capabilities changing dramatically over the past four years, channels like email and SMS will offer a new pathway for candidates to make themselves accessible to voters.

The State of the Union: Political Advertising in 2024

In 2022, Meta changed the course of political advertising, issuing new ad controls that significantly limited the amount of targeting information available to campaigns. Fast forward to 2024. Higher costs and less reliable ROAS, mean that Facebook – the platform that accounted for 60% of digital political ad revenue in 2020 –  will no longer be the go-to ad channel for securing small-dollar donors.

As candidates pull back on Facebook spending this election season, alternative channels like emails and SMS can offer new opportunities to connect with voters and drive engagement. According to Mailchimp, open rates for political emails measure in at 22.94%, slightly higher than the industry average, and text messages garner responses from 40-50% of those who receive them.

Framework for Building a Successful Political Advertising Strategy

How can email, SMS and other one-to-one marketing tactics serve as a valuable avenue to unlock voter potential? Here are a few of our top tips for reaching and engaging voters via email and SMS.

1. Build a strong list of opted-in supporters

A newsletter or text is a chance to build more direct and trusted relationships with supporters. Let’s start with the basics of building – and keeping – a list of engaged contacts who’ve agreed to accept your texts and emails. 

  • Make sure to optimize your website for email and text sign-ups. That starts with strategically placing sign-up forms in high-traffic areas, using engaging calls-to-action, and creating an overall seamless user experience.
  • Collect consent and confirm all subscribers have opted in to receive your emails and texts. This is essential for avoiding spam filters, ensuring greater deliverability, and building consumers’ trust.
  • Always include a link to unsubscribe in your messages. Not only is this required under laws such as CAN-SPAM and TCPA, but it also helps prevent alienating supporters of your candidate or cause.
  • Use third-party email verification tools, like BriteVerify, to keep your list clean and up-to-date.

If you’re looking for a trusted partner to help scale your supporter list, Fluent can help.

2. Craft action-oriented messaging

When someone opts in to receive your campaign’s email and SMS messages, they are expressing interest and trust. Demonstrate that you value that person’s time and commitment. Share actual concerns that mirror those of the wider community of supporters. And be brief, particularly in the subject line (HubSpot recommends 50 characters or less).

Here are some action-oriented verbs to consider using to capture your audience’s attention:

  • Vote – Encourages direct political action.
  • Support – Invokes a sense of unity and collective effort.
  • Join – Invites recipients to be part of something larger.
  • Discover – Piques curiosity about your campaign or cause.
  • Act – A strong call to immediate action.
  • Challenge – Appeals to the recipient’s competitive spirit.
  • Change – Suggests a transformative impact or new direction.
  • Speak – Encourages voicing opinions or participating in a dialogue.

3. Use a familiar sender name

For email, make sure to build a “rapport” with your supporters by using a recognizable sender name. For example, the Biden campaign alternates between “Team Biden-Harris,” or simply Joe Biden, while Donald Trump uses “The Trump Organization” or “Donald J. Trump.”. As for what not to do, the  “no-reply” sender name is one to avoid at all costs – it’s impersonal and may prevent people from adding you to their email address book.

On the SMS front, knowing the difference between long and short codes is important. 

  • Short codes are easy to remember since they’re five to six digits used to send SMS or MMS messages. They’re particularly useful for high-volume messages, like ones with a promotional aspect to them like “DemsWin” or “MAGA24.” 
  • Long Codes are best for more personalized messages. They’re standard 10-digit numbers, ideal for corporate numbers, automated systems, direct client callbacks, or chat applications. However, be cautious with high-volume messaging, as carriers may flag these as spam.

4. Segment your audience based on demographic and interest data

In light of policies from Apple and Google disabling the use of third-party cookies, first-party data will be more crucial than ever to reach potential voters. Knowing how to leverage first-party data for fresher and more reliable insights – versus relying on (often outdated) voter files – allows campaigns to segment and engage their audience more effectively. 

To gain their attention and trust, tailor communications to reflect supporters’ locations, voting history, and website interactions. Deploy detailed sign-up forms to gauge interest in specific issues and implement responsive drip campaigns. This smart use of first-party data not only enhances personalization but also helps boost political action and engagement.

5. Include relevant information on topics voters care about

While most of your email and SMS campaigns should include some call-to-action, avoid flooding supporters’ inboxes with requests for donations. Diversifying your content beyond the typical fundraising email gives readers a better sense of who you are and what you stand for as a candidate. 

For example, leverage email to share information on your values and platform and SMS for real-time updates on upcoming events, appearances, and volunteer opportunities. You can also leverage these channels as a tool to get to know your supporters, launching polls and surveys to collect additional insight into the issues they care about.

6. Leverage A/B testing to optimize your campaign 

Once you launch your campaign, run A/B tests to identify the messaging that resonates best with your audience. Be sure to track key performance indicators such as opens, click-throughs, and unsubscribe rates, analyzing findings to help inform campaign optimizations. When it comes to email and SMS, clear, concise copy paired with a smart targeting strategy will be key to winning over voters and driving engagement in the 2024 election.

Driving Campaign Outcomes with Email & SMS

In this transformative era of political advertising, the key to success lies in adapting and optimizing strategies to overcome platform policy changes. As tried and true one-to-one marketing channels, email and SMS offer a great way to connect with voters, drive grassroots fundraising efforts, and provide updates on your campaign progress.

For more information on how Fluent can help you get the most out of your political advertising campaigns, contact us here.