How the US Presidential election candidates are using mobile messaging to support their campaigns

If you’ve seen any news source recently, the chances are you’ll have noticed there’s going to be an election in America later this year. If you’ve looked really closely, you might have noticed there’s a well-known billionaire running for leadership of the Republican party.

Donald Trump’s campaign has drawn considerable interest from a large number of American citizens, whilst prompting debate around the world for his controversial comments and standpoint on a number of political issues. What caught our eye, however, was the communication strategy he’s put front and centre of his campaign.

Trump is using SMS for his campaign communications – if you visit his campaign website, his short code and keyword are the second call to action (after donate), ahead of social media and other more traditional mailing list options. It’s not just promoted on his website. His campaign posters ask you to “Text TRUMP to 88022”. His SMS call to action is everywhere – on his campaign posters, on his lectern during speeches and displayed in huge letters on the stage wherever Trump is campaigning.

By using these tactics, Trump is rapidly building a list of campaign supporters that are ready and waiting to hear from him via text message. With bulk SMS, Trump’s campaign managers can message all of his supporters instantly, with a personalised message that will be delivered straight to their mobile phone in seconds; people can be very passionate about politics, so personal mobile communications are a perfect way to engage with political supporters.

It isn’t just Trump who understands the power of SMS. A quick look at the websites of other election candidates, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, shows them using the power of mobile communications to attract visitors to sign up to their own text message mailing lists. Rather than the versatile keyword and short code approach, Clinton and Sanders have both opted to include a sign-up form on their website. Whilst this doesn’t offer the same flexibility of the short code and keyword (let’s face it, you don’t see many sign-up forms on campaign leaflets), it does mean they will steadily build a contact list of highly engaged campaign followers.

What’s more, once someone has send a text to a short code, it’s possible to set up automatic responses thanking people for joining your campaign. It’s a great opportunity to send people your manifesto or other campaign literature as an attachment they can open and keep on their phone, rather than spending time and money printing and distributing leaflets door-to-door.

Aside from it giving you the opportunity to communicate effectively with potentially hundreds of thousands of opted-in contacts at any one time, a prompt in the body of your message means your SMS could be sent on to reach friends or colleagues, helping it gain even more exposure. Sure, social media is good for that too, but statistics show that on average, your posts will only reach 20% of your LinkedIn followers and 2.6% of your Facebook followers. Twitter stats vary wildly, but as a guide, a leading social media site only gets 4% reach from their tweets.

Comparatively, over 98% of text messages are read – and typically within 5 seconds.

With Local Government elections happening all year round, savvy campaign managers should start to think now about how they can get an edge over competing candidates ahead of the May elections. There’s the EU referendum in June to think about too, a crucial vote for which campaigning has already begun.

Whether you’re building a list of followers like Trump, Clinton or Sanders, or recruiting campaign volunteers like the Liberal Democrats, there’s a lot that text messaging can do to help deliver a successful campaign.

Find out more about building a mobile contact list, or take a look at our short codes and keywords now.