4 Cost-Effective Political Canvassing Techniques For Your Next Campaign

Published on August 18, 2023

Knowing which political canvassing techniques to deploy is essential for running a successful election campaign. With each political canvassing technique having its pros and cons, it becomes necessary to understand each in detail and compare.

We’ve explored political canvassing techniques that you can implement in your campaign strategy. These cost-effective techniques generate great results and can be easily implemented.

Before we begin, we must know that cost-effective canvassing refers to political canvassing techniques that will give you the most effective results for the amount of money you pay. It does not mean the cheapest canvassing method, although we’ve tried our best to highlight ways in which each process saves you money.

What are some cost-effective canvassing techniques?

Finding the most cost-effective political canvassing techniques with limited budgets and time to spare should be a good exercise. We explore these four techniques in detail for you to make an informed choice:

  1. Door-to-door canvassing
  2. Phone canvassing
  3. Text canvassing
  4. Email canvassing

Door-to-door canvassing

Door-to-door canvassing is the most popular traditional political canvassing technique. Knocking on doors in the local community to educate individuals about the voting process, candidates running for office, persuading them to vote for a particular candidate, etc., is all a part of the door-to-door canvassing process.

So is this political canvassing technique effective? Well, the Yale Institution for Social and Policy Studies shows evidence. They say, “​​many results suggest that it is the dynamic interaction of authentic person-to-person contact that is most important in determining whether a method will successfully mobilize voters.”

Door-to-door canvassing promises just that. 

It is the most personal form of political canvassing outreach. Here’s why we think door-to-door canvassing is one of the most cost-effective political canvassing techniques:

  1. You only need to spend on canvassing material such as posters, brochures, and other campaign documents.
  2. You might incur expenses like reimbursing volunteers for expenses etc., however, with this technique, the average per-conversation effect size of canvassing turnout operations is 1 in every 4 people spoken with – that’s a pretty high conversion rate to bet your money on!
  3. It is a highly effective political canvassing technique even though the costs are low. Field experiments have repeatedly found that door-to-door canvassing has a significant impact on influencing votes.

The downsides

Well, it’s not always rainbows and butterflies, or so Maroon 5 sings. There are a few downsides to the door-to-door political canvassing technique that you should be aware of:

  1. People can be less trusting of strangers walking up to their doors.
  2. The pandemic has shown us why personal interactions may not be the safest. However, this can be overcome by taking all necessary precautions.
  3. Door-to-door canvassing could prove tedious in certain areas, such as rural areas, etc., due to bad routes or sparse populations.
  4. Weather plays a vital role in determining how much gets done each day. Heavy rain or harsh sunshine? It’s going to be a difficult day.

Tips for engaging in door-to-door canvassing

  1. Encourage volunteers to go out and speak with people. They need not just be extroverted to have conversations. Passion is key.
  2. Plan your canvassing route in advance to optimize the process and ensure volunteers do not tire out or miss any homes.
  3. Provide volunteers with all materials needed – posters, brochures, and FAQ documents as part of your political canvassing techniques. 
  4. Do not forget to get them some water and insist they wear comfortable shoes when volunteering.
  5. This political canvassing technique may lead to unpleasant encounters with people distrusting volunteers. Do not take such incidents personally. It’s not you! 

Read Also: The Perfect Doorstep Interaction in Political Canvassing 

All considered, this door canvassing has been in practice for years for a reason, and it brings you results even though it has its downsides. However, there are still more ways in which you could canvass. Let’s read further.

Phone canvassing

As a communication technology company, CallHub has observed campaigns succeed tremendously by using phone canvassing. Phone canvassing entails the following steps:

  1. Collating lists of people to call.
  2. Getting and training volunteers to make canvassing phone calls.
  3. Writing an excellent phone canvassing script.
  4. Uploading the contacts lists, script, and FAQ lists on your phone canvassing software.
  5. Assigning contacts to volunteers.
  6. Beginning your campaign!

Oh, and also, point 7 would definitely be staying compliant with TCPA regulations while you run your campaign. These are regulations set by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act that ensures campaigns adhere to fair practices while canvassing.

Why is phone canvassing cost-effective?

This is an incredibly valid question because several costs are associated with a phone canvassing campaign. This political canvassing technique needs investment in:

  1. Buying good communication software to make phone calls easier (which includes a cost of features and per-call costs).
  2. Renting phone numbers.
  3. Purchasing contact lists. 

So how is phone canvassing a cost-effective political canvassing technique?

  1. Phone calls help you reach a significantly high number of people compared to door-knocking campaigns. While door-to-door canvassing is effective, your team can reach up to 3600 calls within the span of one shift using phone canvassing.
  2. Phone calling software helps you execute calls at high speed. You can make 3x more calls per hour using phone software than a manual dialer, making it one of the best political canvassing techniques.
  3. Phone banking efforts can lead to a 3.8% increase in voter turnout.

Tips for effective phone canvassing:

  1. Ensure your phonebanking script covers all essential points you want to convey.
  2. Train volunteers and monitor phone calls (a good software will allow you to monitor live phone calls to improve your campaign).
  3. Maintain updated calling lists so that your volunteers do not spend time calling bad numbers, DNC registered numbers, etc. Your calling software can help you do just that by identifying answering machines, omitting DNC contacts.
  4. Stay updated about your local regulations for information on permitted call timings, etc.

The downsides

  1. Phone canvassing has strict regulations you need to adhere to such as permitted call timings, the frequency with which you can make calls, etc. However, you can overcome this by exploring TCPA compliant dialers.
  2. Pick-up rates for this political canvassing technique are 5%. The only way to get more votes is to keep calling!

Read Also: 17 Effective Canvassing Software to Make Your Campaign Obstacle-Free 

Text canvassing

The goal of political canvassing techniques is to reach out to as many people as possible to make them aware of your campaign, cause, political party, policies, etc. Do you know what makes 98% of people take note of your canvassing? Text messages!

Yes, text messages have an open rate of 98% – which means any message you are sending out has a high chance of being read.

This political canvassing technique is highly effective in increasing awareness about your campaign. Here is why we think it is cost-effective:

  1. You can maintain personalized conversations with thousands of people simultaneously by using tools such as peer-to-peer texting. That’s a large number compared to only one conversation at a time while door-knocking. 
  2. They bring value in terms of the number of people they reach.
  3. It is a highly influential political canvassing technique to reach young voters

The downsides:

  1. It is against regulations to send text messages to people who have not opted-in to receive them. Therefore, you need to plan an SMS opt-in campaign in advance.
  2. A lot of people are increasingly complaining about text canvassing spam. But, you can overcome this by limiting the number of texts you send each week and sending only important communications.
  3. Canvassing conversations are less-detailed as compared to other political canvassing techniques.

Tips for effective text canvassing:

  1. Segment contacts and send personalized messages accordingly. For example, if some connections care about climate change, share your policies regarding that subject to them.
  2. Personalize messages by adding people’s first names, talking about their city, etc., while texting them. Your software can help you automate the process using merge tags and custom fields features to add different fields such as recipient name, agent name, etc. to your communications.
  3. Use texts as a follow-up technique along with phone canvassing or door-knocking campaigns. It makes you memorable and enables you to reach people you couldn’t otherwise reach.
  4. Share educational links with people so they can access more details about your campaign.

Read Also: Texts & door canvassing: A powerful combo for your GOTV strategy

Email canvassing

While emails may seem like a thing of the past, they are still highly relevant communication channel. Email open rates are anywhere between ​​17-28%, which is a significant number! They also allow you to share detailed and visually pleasing information with your target audience – making emails one of the best political canvassing techniques to spread awareness about your campaign.

Here’s why email campaigns are cost-effective:

  1. You only need to pay for your mailer software if you exceed a certain number of email contacts. Even then, the cost is nominal.
  2. Like text canvassing, even email canvassing does not need a large team to make it happen. You can manage with a small team of creatively-minded people.
  3. Saves time by reaching people as soon as you launch your campaign.

The downsides:

  1. You need to go through trial and error to determine what email campaigns get you results.
  2. Your demographic may not necessarily subscribe to emails.

Tips for running a successful email canvassing campaign:

  1. Send emails on a schedule, so people get used to hearing from you.
  2. Regularly clean and update your mailing list to save costs.
  3. Implement clearly visible call-to-action buttons.
  4. Get your subject line right -it is the most essential part of your email.
  5. Add social media links so that subscribers have more ways to know about and connect with you.

The way forward

Cost-effective political canvassing techniques can go a long way in ensuring your campaign is widely popular. Since elections are mostly about how much you could persuade people to actually turn up at the polling booth and vote for you, you will need several tactics to make that happen.

Read our article Political Canvassing Laws Every Campaigner Must Know before you begin your canvassing campaign to stay compliant with regulations and have a successful run for office!

Featured Image Source: RODNAE Productions