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Guides & Tutorials5 min read

2022 guide to political campaign text messaging

Ensure your political messaging campaign is compliant and decide which number type is best for your organization.

Emily Wynne
It’s no secret that text messaging campaigns are successful: 97% of Americans own a cell phone and SMS messages have an average open rate of 98%. If you want your message to reach as many voters as possible, distributing it via text is your best bet.
Use text messaging in your political campaign strategy to:
  • Increase deliverability of your outreach campaigns (political texts have up to a 98% open rate—much higher than emails open rates or answers to phone calls)
  • Deliver reminders (for voter registration, polling locations, voting day reminders, etc.)
  • Elevate your fundraising strategy and net more donations
  • Communicate with engaged volunteers and members
Telnyx supports major organizations and NGOs with their political messaging needs, regardless of party or candidate affiliation. Political messaging can be complex, but we’ll help you navigate compliance and deliverability challenges to ensure your texts have maximum impact. Read on to learn more, and to determine which number type is best suited for your outreach efforts.

Political messaging strategies are complex

Messaging for political campaigns presents uniquely complex compliance and deliverability challenges. There are three main criteria your organization should consider in order to ensure the success and legality of a political messaging campaign.

1. Only contact users who have opted in

Use filtering technology to ensure you only contact individuals who want to receive your communications. Make it easy for users to opt out by including a phrase in your initial message like “reply to this message with STOP to unsubscribe.” Some providers, like Telnyx, build an opt-out message into their messaging platform logic, so your organization doesn’t need to take any extra steps.
Once you have an established opt-in list, begin to segment and personalize your messages to avoid exhausting your contacts. For example, if you collect ZIP codes, you can send location-specific information to groups of users about local events.

2. Adhere to throughput thresholds

Throughput thresholds limit the volume of messages you can send from a number per second, minute, and day. It’s important to know your carrier’s thresholds to avoid deliverability issues and potential fines from both the government and carriers. Telnyx short codes offer industry-leading throughput rates—our short code SMS messaging starts at 100 messages per second to ensure that your high volume communications are delivered at scale.

3. Comply with anti-spam regulations

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates communications in order to protect users from unwanted spam messages. The FCC enforces the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which ensures that organizations obtain user consent before continuing to send application-to-person (A2P) messages. Obtaining user consent is as easy as including a disclaimer in your initial message that states “text YES to opt in or STOP to unsubscribe—by participating, you consent to receive future text messages from [your organization name].”
Of course, without obtaining that YES, the organization can no longer legally message that user. If an organization does not include the disclaimer or fails to comply with the regulation, they risk fines of $500-$1500 per unwanted text message per recipient, which can quickly add up.
Managing a political messaging campaign can be complex, so make sure you adhere to federal and carrier regulations in order to avoid fines, fees, and potentially losing access to your number. This isn’t something you want to “wing it” on—your campaign has too much at stake for your messaging campaign to be disrupted. That’s why it’s important to choose a highly-rated provider like Telnyx that offers free expert support 24/7/395.

Best number types for political messaging

There are multiple different types of numbers you can use for your political outreach.
Short code is one of the most popular since it offers the highest throughput volume. Toll-free is a cheaper, moderately high volume alternative to short code, though most political customers choose short code instead. 10DLC is used infrequently for messaging campaigns due to its low throughput limits.
See the pros and cons of each below to determine what number type will best support your messaging campaign:

Short code

Pros:
  • Accurate delivery reporting
  • High throughput volume
  • Clear compliance requirements
Cons:
  • Long provisioning times (can take weeks)
  • No voice calling capabilities
  • Higher up front registration and send costs than other number types

Toll-free

Pros:
  • More accurate delivery reporting than short code
  • Lower monthly registration and send costs compared to short code
  • Clear compliance requirements
Cons:
  • Medium throughput volume
  • Verification process can take days

10DLC

Pros:
  • Shortest approval times compared to other number types
Cons:
  • Low throughput volume
  • Complicated ongoing compliance checks
  • No delivery reporting

So which number type should your campaign use? Telnyx recommends short code or toll-free numbers. Though the initial wait period for provisioning and verification takes a bit longer than if you chose 10DLC, the results are worth the wait. With short code and toll-free numbers, you get accurate and detailed delivery reporting, plus much higher throughput volume. That means you can reach more voters, send more messages, and understand the metrics behind your messaging campaign.
Let’s break it down further. Use the chart below to determine whether a short code or toll-free number is the best option for your campaign:

Short code vs. toll-free numbers
FeatureShort codeToll-free
Delivery reportingAccurate delivery reportingMore accurate delivery reporting
Throughput volumeVery high throughput volumeHigh throughput volume
Provisioning and verification
May take weeks
May take days
Voice calling capabilities
No
Yes
Clear compliance requirements
Yes
Yes
Cost
High registration and send costs
Low registration and send costs

Now it’s time to obtain your number and begin contacting voters. We’re approaching midterm elections, so it’s important to choose a provider that can act quickly to get your number up and running, and offer expert support along the way.


How Telnyx can help

Telnyx helps some of the largest U.S. political campaigns ensure their messaging is engaging, has high deliverability and is in compliance with rules and regulations.
Point Blank Political, a full service political consulting firm that works with candidates and campaigns of all shapes and sizes, needed a partner to help build its P2P texting platform. Point Blank Political chose Telnyx for its unmatched deliverability, low cost, customer support and reliable carrier-grade network. Telnyx helped Point Blank Political save up to 73% in messaging costs and achieve 95% deliverability. Other customers report similar cost savings and deliverability—sign up today and see how Telnyx accelerates your campaign messaging this election season.
The Telnyx SMS API is built with developers in mind: we handle carrier complexities, make it faster to integrate your messaging needs, and provide unmatched delivery insights. We offer competitive pricing and receive industry-leading ratings in support and usability.
Talk to an expert or use the self-service Mission Control Portal to get started with your political messaging campaign today.
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