In the recent Australian elections, the Australian Labour Party (ALP) sent a controversial text message from “Medicare”:
The message spurred legal concerns, as it violated the ACMA anti-spam act. The act states that a SMS must clearly and accurately identify the individual or organisation that authorized sending the message. In addition to that, it should also include information about how to contact the sender of the message.
Setting compliance issues aside, from a marketing perspective, the message was quite powerful. Even Senator David Johnson from Liberal Party stated that it was:
“a fabulous campaign from Labor”
Yet, as we near the election close, it looks like it wasn’t enough. But could it have been? If ALP had executed a sophisticated SMS campaign nationally, could it have turned the tide in the election with such a hot topic as Medicare?
What they could have done differently?
By making a few additions and adjustments to their SMS campaign, the ALP could have achieved much more effective results. Take a look at the following enhanced campaign:
- 1st part – a strong message in its own but we have to abide by the rules, so this alone won’t be enough;
- 2nd part – encourages the recipient to take action, to learn more about the effect of Medicare’s privatization. This has the potential to reinforce the first message by giving a more detailed information about the subject, and it drastically increases the campaign’s effectiveness.
- In case the recipient replies “SAVE”, then further information is provided and it encourages them to participate or take action. It offers an interactive experience for the recipient, starting a 2-way “conversation” and making the recipient feel connected or “in the loop”.
- 3rd part – completes our improved SMS campaign. The name of the sender and additional information about her is included and clearly identifies who she is. It includes his position and contact number, and it clearly abides by the ACMA Anti-Spam Act.
Why Is This Better?
There’s no magic recipe to create a perfect SMS campaign, but these characteristics that should always be considered in order to increase effectiveness:
Compliant. According to law, a commercial electronic message must clearly identify the sender of the SMS and provide a way to contact the sender directly. In our example, we have provided a very clear information about who sent the message along with the sender’s contact number and his role in the organisation.
Personalized. A personalized SMS uses the name of the individual and adapts the sender to the electoral division of the recipient. It also informs the right contact from the party to be contacted in that specific region, providing a feeling of trust and connection between the sender and the recipient. In the original message sent by ALP, there is no information about who sent the message, not establishing a connection or trust and giving the impression of a fraud for many voters.
Interactive. In our example, the SMS allows the recipient to request more information by replying with “save”, starting a 2-way conversation. A good SMS campaign allows the recipienzt to interact with the message, such as letting them acquire more information just like in the example. It also provides a sense of control to the recipient by giving them the option to choose what they want to do next.
Measurable. A good SMS campaign must be measurable. The URL provided in the message tracks the clicks to it and also the number of replies. Being able to track how many people responded to your messages allows you to measure the impact of your campaign and more importantly identify engaged recipients for follow-up later.
Clear and Multiple Calls-to-Action (CTA). The example provided recipients clear ways to spread the message. The SMS had a clear CTA to raise the awareness of their campaign.
Multi-channel. Multiply the impact by pushing interested recipients to other channels such as Facebook. Social media is a very powerful marketing channel and by pushing interested recipients not only on Facebook but also on Twitter, Reddit, Tumblr, and many other social media sites can help spread your campaign.
For clearly interested parties, a follow-up message could have been sent on the polling day itself like this:
Reminding voters as they are in the process of voting what the ‘real’ issue is, would have been very effective in swaying voters.
An SMS campaign is a very effective channel for this kind of time-sensitive circumstances. It’s immediate and timely, with an average time to view of about 90 seconds. It provides a different approach amidst the super-saturated marketing channels in election time.
But to be effective, SMS campaigns must incorporate best-practise SMS marketing, and more importantly be compliant with Australian law. And that’s how a superior SMS campaign is built.
*Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with the ALP or any other political parties.