Donald Trump seems to be everywhere. Personality and political capabilities apart, when it comes to marketing the guy is a showman. His presidential campaign gave him great visibility and he never misses an opportunity to promote himself. Well, almost never.
It was a surprise that he completely missed out the chance of using SMS as a key channel for his scare campaign. After Obama’s very effective SMS campaign in the previous elections, with millions of subscribers, exclusive news sent through SMS andAfter Obama’s very effective SMS campaign in the previous elections, with millions of subscribers, exclusive news sent through SMS a successful approach to raise donations, I expected Trump to nail it at this elections. Instead, he used the channel in a very not-Trump-like monotonous way.
Taking a look at his Twitter, it’s easy to see what his message is all about:
Considering that promoting fear is his main strategy, imagine what he could have achieved with proper use of this channel. SMS is short, direct and has a 98% open rate. What a better way to “nurture” fear than sending short effective messages over a long period of time?
So let’s see where he failed and what he could have done differently.
Trump’s SMS Campaign
In every rally, news conference and public speaking appearance of Donald Trump, you can see a printed banner that includes the phrase Text “Trump” to 88022, promising exclusive updates. By texting “Trump”, the following happens:
After that first interaction, very little content is shared through SMS. The only messages received during the research for this article were announcing the primaries for that particular state:
From a marketing perspective, we can point out some of the main flaws in Trump’s SMS campaign:
It’s unclear what kind of recurring messages from Donald Trump you’ll receive when subscribing. “Exclusive updates” doesn’t say much and users may be frustrated when expecting a consistent amount of text messages, especially getting closer to elections, but receive close to nothing.
In contrast, Obama’s campaign collected permissions and explicitly told them what they are opting into. He also offered incentives for the ones who subscribed, such as special bumper stickers, ringtones and wallpapers.
Mobile phones and text messages are highly personal, therefore, commercial text messages shouldn’t be just like any other advertisements. You need to build trust with your audience.
Trump’s campaign sent unsolicited SMS messages to Chicago voters, violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which explicitly states that the recipient must opt-in for every campaign. As a result, he was sued in a class action complaint.
Trump underestimated SMS as a marketing channel and didn’t develop a proper strategy for it. The results were generic messages and replicated content from emails.
Lack of interactivity
Establishing a “2-way” conversation builds rapport with your audience and it’s a powerful tool to obtain insights.
Obama’s campaign contained a continuing dialogue. The campaign used text messages to direct voters to more in-depth information or by giving them choices by using keywords such as “SAVE”, “LEARN”, “GIVE”, “YES”, “NO”, etc. It also allows subscribers to either tone down or dial up text message frequency.
This allows people who doesn’t like receiving lots of messages to “tone down” message frequency instead of completely unsubscribing. On the other hand, those who want more information could opt-in for increased message frequency.
How Trump’s campaign could have been better
One thing Trump did correctly was to send alerts and reminders on the election day. However, with a few tweaks in his messages, he could have been much more effective. For example:
Election Day Alerts
The CTA “Forward this SMS to your family and friends” can help reach other voters who might support Trump as well.
Having multiple CTAs is also an effective way to keep your audience engaged. Don’t miss our the opportunity to push your audience to social media and spread the message.
Remember, most phones are smart phones so you can easily link to social and web pages.
Before Election Day
Here’s another example of a campaign Trump could have been better:
Why is this effective?
This personalized SMS uses the name of the individual and adapts the sender to his electoral division. It also informs the right contact from the party to be contacted, providing a feeling of trust and connection between the sender and the recipient.
In our example, the SMS allows the recipient to specify his area of concern and request more information by replying “SAVE”, promoting a 2-way conversation based on his interests.
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 CTAs
The SMS example had a clear call-to-action (CTA) to raise awareness.
Multiply the impact by pushing interested recipients to other channels, such as social media.
SMS is a very effective channel to achieve personal engagement with voters and to communicate time-sensitive information. It provides a different approach amidst the super-saturated marketing channels in election time.
However, SMS needs to be contemplated as a unique channel with its particularities, and simply replicating content from other channels is not effective.
An SMS campaign can only be successful when being compliant, having a clear strategy and being relevant to your audience.
*Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with any political parties.