Top 6 Tips, Stats, and Templates for Your Text GOTV Reminder

Sending a text GOTV reminder can increase the chances of an individual turning up by 1-8%. For campaigns that can be won or lost by a handful of votes, even this marginal improvement can be a determining factor.

To work, a text GOTV reminder, like any other form of political communication, must be:

  • Well-targeted,
  • Timely,
  • Informative and
  • Persuasive.

How do you ensure that a short SMS (<160 characters) ticks all these boxes? Equally importantly, does such a text GOTV reminder successfully nudge voters? How do you send reminder messages to urge supporters to vote?

Let’s have a detailed look at all these aspects.

GOTV texting: Fruitful or futile exercise?

The message requesting votes is, in a way, asking supporters to do you a favour. So, it will not always result in success. However, by studying GOTV texting trends and statistics, you can design messaging in a more formidable way and increase your chances of persuading a supporter to vote.

Here’s a look at factors that determine when a text GOTV reminder works. 

Content

According to a 2018 study, supporters who receive issue-specific messages are 8.2% more likely to vote than those who received generic or non-issue GOTV text messages. Impactful issues during GOTV texting include:

  • Healthcare
  • Education
  • Environment
  • Gun Safety
  • Fair Wages
  • Voting Rights.

Additionally, candidate-specific messages also have a similar impact.

text-gotv-reminder-messaging-impact-content

Our suggestion: By the time you start sending GOTV reminders, you must have enough information on supporters’ interests, pain points and aspirations. Use them to segment contacts by issues close to their heart and frame your GOTV messages accordingly. Include candidate-specific messaging like their views, policies and previous work related to such issues.

Conversations

The study cited above also concluded that people who responded to campaign texts were 9.6% more likely to vote than non-respondents. This shows the importance of conversations for GOTV. 

Our suggestion: A supporter is not likely to reply during the last phases of the elections if they didn’t respond before. To ensure they have proper space and encouragement to engage in conversations before the GOTV exercise, make sure:

  1. You invest in a political text marketing tool that allows inbound and outbound texts.
  2. Your message requests and encourages replies. For instance, conducting political surveys requesting information. Here’s an example:

Age

General texting trends vary by age. For instance, 8% of adults send and receive 100 texts daily, while 29% of teens do. As you go further up the age bar, the familiarity and impact of texting decreases.

Similar trends are true for political and GOTV texting too. More people below the age of 51 are likely to turn up after a text GOTV reminder than those older. 

Our suggestion: Gauge the impact of texting your older supporters (40+, to keep some buffer for the 51 years mark) in the initial stages of nurturing. You can do this by measuring response rates or conducting a survey about preferred methods of communication. Filter individuals by their preferred way of communicating and send GOTV reminders on that channel. Some effective ways of contacting them before elections are:

Election day plan 

Sending a text GOTV reminder isn’t just about reminding a supporter about polling day and time. Studies have shown that helping them make a mental plan for election day tends to increase voter turnout.

Our suggestion: For text banking, adopt  P2P texting. It lets you have open-ended, two-way conversations with supporters. 

Have a meaningful conversation about the election day (whether over text, call or in-person) and ask them questions like:

  • What time they plan to vote.
  • Transport arrangements.
  • If they are bringing family, tagging with friends or going alone.
  • If they need a babysitter or other arrangements at home.

End by informing them how they can reach you in case they need anything at the last minute.  

Warm Vs cold texts

Warm TextsCold Texts
Warm texts are messages sent to individuals who have an existing established relationship with you.Cold texts are messages sent to individuals who have not shown any sign of interest in you.
The relationship can be someone who has Opted for your messages.Had a conversation with you before or Shown interest in speaking with you.These texts aim to generate interest and establish a relationship. 
When done on a large scale, warm texts are sent via an automated texting system.Cold texts are often sent by personal phones or with human intervention to comply with TCPA regulations.

It isn’t surprising that warm GOTV text reminders work better than cold texting. People who share an established relationship are more likely to respond and act desirably to your requests. However, cold texting should not be chucked out the window entirely. For one, they have better scaling opportunities and lower acquisition costs than warm texts. 

Our suggestion: Calculate your win number and get a supporter turnout projection before starting GOTV texting. Add cold contacts to your list depending on the voter gap. The wider the gap, the more contacts you add to the list. Prioritize sway voters who align with your campaign over the more difficult ones.

To know more about formulating a voter contact plan, read How to Build up a Voter Contact Plan for Apt Turnout in Your Elections.

Relations 

A study shows large and significant effects of friend-to-friend mobilization efforts. A supporter (or sway voter) is more likely to turn up to vote if they are asked by someone they know as opposed to a stranger. Not surprisingly, this study furthers the argument that warm texts work better than cold texts during GOTV efforts.

text-gotv-message-cold-vs-warm-friend-contact

Our suggestion: Start building a rapport with supporters weeks (or months) before election day. Assign specific volunteers to a list segment and get them to engage with supporters from start to finish. This assignment could be arbitrary. 

However, if there’s a link between volunteers and a certain contact segment (e.g., same district or alma mater), the connection could be more assertive. This could also help you invoke social pressure (E.g., 163 alumni from Minnesota Uni have confirmed their vote for Jack McConey. Join your ex-batchmates, seniors and club members by supporting McConey.)

Once you incorporate these tips in your GOTV text reminders, you have a tentative picture of how, when and whom you’ll target. Next, let’s look at some sample text GOTV reminder messages. 

Related reading: Relational Organizing – How to Use It Right and Win the Race!

Sample text GOTV reminder messages

Helpful, relatable, informative and attractive content keeps contacts engaged and promotes conversations. When you send out the final text GOTV reminder, the nurturing up to that point helps improve voter turnout

Let’s look at some content best practices and message templates you can use. The templates are given with a tentative chronology (some can be altered as per your campaign’s insights)

Guide people to register as voters

Without voter registration, your nurturing and GOTV efforts are futile. Moreover, eligible individuals who haven’t registered as voters may just require external motivation to complete the process. Guiding them to do the needful is beneficial for both parties.

Timeline: 2-3 weeks before registration closes.

Text GOTV reminder template:
Hi {first_name}, did you know 21.4% of adults are not yet registered to vote? Are you one of them? We can change that. Reply Y if you are registered, N if not. 

Invoke the “Vote Tripling” tactic

The Vote Tripling project sides with our previous study showing that friend-to-friend texts work marvellously for GOTV. The project, targeting enthusiastic voters, asks them to “be a leader in your community simply by encouraging three friends to vote.” This peer-to-peer GOTV campaign can be a great way to get confirmed voters more involved and increase voter turnout.

Timeline: 2-3 weeks before election day.

GOTV reminder template:Hi {first_name}, we challenge you to bring 3 friends to the polls & stand a chance to join McConey’s gala dinner. Are you up for it? Pledge your votes here.

Text them with polling day information

Political campaigns share polling day details with supporters for two reasons: 

  1. It is informative, and receivers appreciate informative messages.
  2. This acts as a nudge to get out the vote.

Here’s a simple, straightforward, and encouraging message that kills both birds with a stone.

Timeline: A week before election day.

Sample campaign text message:
{first_name}, Virginia primary elections are on Tuesday, 8 June! Polling booths open 8 am- 8 pm😄 . Are you ready to vote for environmental change? 

Help them make a plan

A mental plan can not only help voters feel the tasks are “doable” but also nudge them as “we have planned, so we must do”. When sending a text GOTV reminder, ask them if:

  • They have already planned the day.
  • They need special assistance on election day.
  • You can help them plan, if they haven’t already.

Timeline: Start a week before election day and continue until the day before polls open.

Conversation template:
If YESHey {first_name}, I hope you are excited for election day as much as we are. Have you planned how and when you will get to the polling station?
Yes
Marvellous! Do you need any special assistance that day?
Can you help me find a babysitter?
Sure, no worries. Text me the time requirement and I will fetch you some leads.
If NOHey {first_name}, I hope you are excited for election day as much as we are. Have you planned how and when you will get to the polling station?
No
No problem. Do you know where your polling station is? And what time is convenient for you?
Afternoons are most convenient for me, I don’t know the polling station. 
Your polling station is Baker’s High School. Pick up is at 2:30 pm near your house and drop off at 2:45 (Bus A302). Do you think that’s convenient for you?
[Conversation continues]

Invoke urgency

Invoking urgency is a classic persuasion technique used to nudge supporters to turn up to vote. This is especially easy the day before and on the day of elections because voters have a small window to cast their ballots. Conversely, if the window feels too short or the person is not motivated enough, they might feel like the opportunity is lost and give up. Here’s a template to hit the sweet spot:.

Timeline: 2-5 days before elections.

GOTV text template:
Hey {first_name}, polls open tomorrow! This election will determine the future of our city, our children and YOU! Don’t forget to VOTE tomorrow (& vote McConey!)

Related Reading: 6 Persuasion Techniques Psychology Says Will Get the Most Out of Your Supporters

Text them on election day (giving last minute nudges)

The battle is not over until polls close. Last-minute GOTV is effective too! To ensure that everyone who can be motivated is motivated, text GOTV reminders on election day. For this exercise, select only sporadic voters and target them for persuasive messages. For confirmed voters, a gentle nudge suffices. For non-voters, this day is too late to persuade.

Timeline: Election day.

Text GOTV reminder:
{first_name}, polls have opened and hundreds have cast their votes. What’s holding you? You can make a difference with your vote! Reply if you need assistance to get to the polls.

How do I send an automatic text reminder?

When you have to send a text GOTV reminder to a large group, using personal phones have three shortcomings:

  • It is painfully slow.
  • Does not allow automatic personalization.
  • Can lead to undue variations, misinformation or incomplete information.

Thus, a political text marketing tool, like CallHub, comes in handy. You must have the required opt-ins from contacts at this stage, making them ready for warm GOTV reminders.

Here’s how to do it on CallHub.

Sending a mass text in Callhub

Log in to your account and select the “Text Broadcast” campaign. Follow the steps as mentioned below:

  1. Add a unique campaign name and select applicable phone books.
  2. Select from automatically rented numbers or previously validated numbers. The selected number will be displayed on the receiver’s phone.
  3. Add an initial message draft. This message will go to all contacts in the selected phone books.
  4. You have the option of adding automated replies. Set trigger keywords and corresponding replies according to the expected conversation flow. Automated replies will go when you receive trigger keywords.
  5. Add merge tags to the primary and automatic replies as necessary.
  6. Schedule the campaign and done! Your campaign is set.

For more information on how to set up such a campaign, follow this link.

text-gotv-reminder-callhub-broadcast-example

Peer-to-peer texting campaigns on CallHub

Log in to your CallHub account and select the “Peer to Peer text” campaign. Follow the steps below:

  1. Add a unique campaign name.
  2. Add the initial script with text or questions (you can also import questions directly from your CRM! Check out our integrations here.
  3. Draft saved replies that volunteers can pick, edit or send unedited to relevant queries or responses. Both the initial message and saved replies can be personalized with merge tags.
  4. Select phone books and rent a number with the relevant phone codes.
  5. Assign agents, schedule and go!

Get more details on how to set up a P2P texting campaign here.

A texting software can make sending text GOTV reminders easy and scalable. When you have a large group to contact, managing campaigns can become messy. CallHub’s mass texting and peer-to-peer texting tools help you send those last-minute GOTV texts efficiently. Try out our tools here:

Feature image source:  Rodion Kutsaev/Unsplash.