Five SMS Lessons Businesses Can Learn from the 2020 Presidential Election


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On November 4, 2020, Mitto issued a survey to Americans who had received campaign SMS leading up to the general election. Mitto looked to discover what recipients’ feelings were toward this form of communication and how it affected their voting, if at all. The results indicated that the messages they were sent played a role in the way they voted, donated, and more. However, they also showed that there are ways engagement strategies could have been improved when it came to things like trustworthiness of SMS sources and how many messages consumers were sent.

Given these insights, here are a few of our top takeaways from SMS election campaigns and how they can be applied to your business:

1. Small messages can have big impacts

The results from our survey clearly indicated that SMS has the power to impact recipients’ actions, as nearly one-third of respondents reported that their voting decisions were influenced by SMS. This was especially true as 37% of respondents reported that they felt influenced to register to vote because of campaign SMS they received ahead of the election.

If a quick SMS can empower someone to believe in something as important as registering to vote, it can surely help your business communicate with both your current and prospective customers in a meaningful way. Maybe you have a corporate-sponsored charity you’d like your community to rally around or you are trying to drum up engagement in a purpose-driven campaign. Our advice is don’t be afraid to spread big ideas or share above and beyond campaigns with your customers through SMS. Meeting them where they are with an easy note may be a great first step in your brand’s customer engagement initiatives.

2. People read and respond to SMS

Nearly half (46%) of respondents said that they are most receptive to receiving information about political campaigns through texts. Even more so than phone calls, door to door canvassing and postal mail.

The lesson here is that you shouldn’t ignore SMS as a channel. If you’re doing a marketing push to get people to shop during your annual sale or attend your virtual event, then SMS should form part of your omnichannel approach.

3. Cadence and consistency matter

Our survey findings showed that while almost 66% of people thought they received too much campaign SMS leading up to the election and almost just as many (59%) have not received any messages from them since November 3.

If you’re excited about a product or campaign launch or big seasonal promotion and think your customers will be too, a regular cadence of touch points will be important to build and retain interest. But, naturally, there’s a line you don’t want to step over into spam. Similarly, once the launch is over, keep appropriate messages coming so customers still feel you care. Our survey found that no sooner did election day come and go, they were ghosted by the same campaign parties that had had no qualms filling their phones just days earlier. It’s not a good look – don’t ghost your customers in between peak events.

4. CX is about giving thanks and purposeful follow ups

When asked what political SMS survey respondents enjoyed receiving the most, half of them said it was a thank-you message for casting their vote. Additionally, a quarter of them said they are now happier to receive messages from their preferred organizations in the future.

From this, businesses can learn that consumers want to constantly feel valued, not just when they think you want something from them. If you can do this, then you can also make it so that they are happy with receiving SMS from you again and will read what you have to say.

5. Customers expect trust and customization

Campaign SMS was getting on the right track this year as nearly half of the respondents (47%) felt that the campaign SMS they received were personalized. However, these messages fell short in how trustworthy they were as nearly 42% of respondents did not trust the sources their campaign SMS was coming from. The results indicated that people want to trust where a message is coming from as more than half of the survey respondents (54%) agreed putting a verification system in place would be a good way to know if SMS is from a legitimate source.

Once you have nailed down what customization and personalization of messages look like to your customers, make sure that your messages are secure with tools like Verified SMS so that your customer experience is great from the start.

This year’s election and its season taught us a lot, including the ways SMS can be successfully used to make an impact, inspire action, and enhance the customer experience. Start the year off right in 2021 by integrating SMS as a form of communication into your customer engagement plans and creating a strategy for its effective use.

Sean Whitley
Sean Whitley is the VP of Sales, Americas at Mitto, a leading provider of global omnichannel communications solutions. His focus is building and leading the growth of the Americas Sales team. Sean also co-founded (now Sales Clover) in 2018, which helps organizations engage decision makers into meaningful sales conversations.


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