4 Questions to Ask Your P2P Texting Vendor During the COVID-19 Crisis
I like winning elections. Even more, I love when my clients win their elections. And with the unique challenges posed by coronavirus and social distancing, picking the right P2P texting vendor could be the difference between winning and losing your election (or achieving your advocacy goal).
First, the bigger picture: in-person campaigning and events are postponed indefinitely. Voters say campaign events are the last thing they are looking forward to resuming after quarantine and movement restrictions are loosened. Our primary calendar is chaotic, to say the least. At the same time, mail-in balloting is increasing dramatically — over 2/3 of voters support expanding mail-in ballot options.
We strongly believe the campaign situation will remain chaotic through the November elections. The time to prepare for November is now.
Why The Right Vendor Matters More Than Ever
RumbleUp recently helped Republicans win three special elections in Pennsylvania using P2P texting, and we’re also helping federal and state-level elected officials and candidates communicate with constituents and voters about coronavirus daily. Before that, we did crisis texting with victims of hurricane Michael in 2018 (in addition to hundreds of other campaigns).
What we’ve learned from these experiences texting during a crisis is that voters in distress have many, many more questions about the safety of in-person voting, about how to request and return a mail-in ballot (most have never done so before), and they are confused about moving primary dates, transferred voting locations, conflicting judicial decisions, etc. They are also more distracted and need more hand-holding and reassurance than usual.
Republicans normally prefer to vote in-person on election day, but the virus appears to be ending that tradition. And in Wisconsin’s recent judicial race, Democrats used back-and-forth P2P texting conversations to gain a significant edge by thoroughly educating their voters on how to submit mail-in ballots.
Republicans failed to do the same with their voters, and lost badly.
More than ever, Republican campaigns need an easy, fast, 2-way texting platform with rock solid deliverability to provide personal reassurance, connection and real-time, accurate info to concerned and distracted voters.
But here’s the bad news: our analysis of other P2P vendors is that they come up short in one or more critical ways. So here are four categories of key questions to be asking your P2P texting vendor right now:
Question 1: “What is Your Deliverability?”
Again, undelivered texts = votes lost. This is the #1 problem with other P2P vendors: bad delivery rates and bad or misleading delivery reporting.
- Do they provide a transparent, easy-to-understand snapshot of key deliverability statistics, including landlines, spam and undelivered messages? (Spam should be less than 2%, for instance)
- Do they provide a transparent, downloadable file of every texting project complete with phone carrier error codes? (If they don’t, ask for them. You own your data, right?) Can they explain what each error code means? (If they can’t explain the codes, they don’t know what they mean or how to categorize your traffic.)
- Do they have a way of unblocking traffic that gets flagged by the phone carriers as spam?
- Can they whitelist traffic related to sensitive subjects like coronavirus and white list URLs so they get through in the first text?
You can contact us (see below) to take our deliverability challenge and compare our delivery rates side-by-side with your current vendor. RumbleUp has never lost this challenge.
Question 2: “Is Your Platform Conversational?”
In P2P texting, the conversation is as important as the visibility of your initial message — this is where you turn passive recipients into engaged supporters.
- Is their texting platform only 1-way, or can volunteers rapidly and accurately respond to hundreds of replies per hour? (Your ROI per conversion will decrease if every reply takes a long time to send — it’s not a conversation if there is 15 minute pause between texts!)
- Does their platform allow simultaneous tagging of conversation threads, creating enhanced data during the normal back-and-forth flow of conversation?
- Does their platform allow a mix of pre-scripted replies and open-ended replies to actually respond authentically?
- Does your platform supply trained outsourced texting teams in case you don’t want to handle volunteer recruitment and management?
If you don’t reply to people who text you back, and gather actionable data as you do it, you are missing out on potential supporters, donations, volunteers and votes.
Question 3: “Are You Battle Tested?”
P2P texting is harder than it looks — that is, if you don’t want to crash. Almost every P2P texting company crashed in the lead up to the 2018 Midterm Elections, except us. It wasn’t because of luck; it was due to a massive amount of preparation and countless fire drills.
In 2020 there will easily be 10X MORE texting than there was in 2018. And the vast majority of this texting will happen in the final three weeks and 72 hours before election day. Is your vendor prepared for what’s coming?
- Is this their first election cycle? (If so, it means they’ve never dealt with texting amid the insanity of the final stretch before election day. The only way to fully prepare for election day is to have offered services on a national election day at scale.)
- What is their plan if their provider (the partner they use to deliver your traffic to the phone carriers) crashes or blocks their traffic? Don’t let them say “we deliver our traffic directly to the phone carriers/phones” — no one can do that.
- Have they ever crashed, failed to deliver your client’s messages within the delivery window or had any other denial-of-service events? (Ask other clients who use your platform — you do know some of their other clients, right? — for their experience on this topic.)
- Do they offer blast-text, short code, chatbot, “BCCs” or one-to-many texting features? This is sort of a trick question because P2P texting platforms that offer any of these options “alongside” P2P could be a violation of TCPA (which is why our software, by design, only allows true peer-to-peer texting).
72 hours before election day (or primary day) is not when you want to be on the hunt for a more battle-tested P2P texting vendor.
Question 4: “Is Your Support Experience Amazing?”
P2P texting is the newest campaign tool in the kit. Don’t reinvent the wheel — work with the professionals. Our team has won numerous industry awards and our word-of-mouth reputation precedes us. We bust our butt to make sure every client is satisfied and as successful as possible.
Does your vendor do the same for you?
- Do they offer support via text (duh!), email, phone, webex and webinars?
- Do they lay eyes on your messages before they go live to point out typos, concerns or ways to optimize your results?
- Do they actively monitor your sending programs and pause any that run into spam blocks or other problems?
- Do they provide a Knowledge Base of best practices for how to conduct P2P successfully for any of the dozens of use cases that have proven effective?
This is just the tip of the iceberg. But I would also consider these to be basic value-adds that an experienced, dedicated platform would offer their clients.
Please, whatever you do, look under the hood of your current P2P texting vendor and make sure they have the platform and experience to help you win from now through election day, not just for GOTV, but for persuasion, fundraising, polling and the dozens of other use cases where P2P can perform for you.
We believe we are that platform, on the technical level. And on the support side, our team has the playbook for how to be successful in a post-coronavirus environment, because we’re already doing it every day for our clients.
If you want to see what RumbleUp is capable of doing for you, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a quick call or webex.
You can also sign up for an account at www.RumbleUp.com and be texting in under 15 minutes.
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