Topics: SMS, Technology, Ted Cruz, Text Messaging

The Backr Advantage

In early February, after months of research, negotiation and development, The Prosper Group officially launched Backr, a rapid response SMS tool that allows supporters to quickly and securely donate to Republican candidates and causes.

And as the PG Account Manager most involved with Backr, I’ve been asked more than once:

“How is Backr different than any of the other text-to-donate programs I’ve heard about?”

I’d like to explain the tremendous advantage that sets Backr apart, and go over some of the nuts and bolts of how we’re putting Backr to work for our clients.

With Backr, we have completely eliminated the cumbersome process of entering credit card information in order to make a contribution – a huge shortcut to high conversions. When a supporter decides to make an SMS donation through the Backr platform, they are billed directly to their monthly mobile phone bill. 

This exclusive distinction is what makes Backr the most effective text-to-donate platform for Republican campaigns and committees.

Text messaging has emerged as a highly desired and effective way to communicate with individuals, whether they be voters, potential donors or consumers. With an astounding open rate of 98 percent, Backr is a powerful way to reach voters with fundraising and non-fundraising messages alike.

So How Does It Work?
The first step we take with a client is to set up their unique 5-digit shortcode from which to send SMS messages. Then we set up keywords, such as “DONATE” or the candidate’s name. These keywords are used when we ask people to take an action after they receive the message, such as donating money or pledging to vote. 

Before we can go live with SMS campaigns, the code and keywords must be approved by the mobile carriers. Once set-up and the mobile carriers’ approval process is completed, we can begin to engage with a list of mobile phone numbers – much like a campaign would interact with their list of email subscribers.

Best Practices
To build a successful SMS fundraising program, it is essential to continually add new subscribers to a client’s list. In order for people to sign up or “opt-in” they must text a keyword, such as the candidate’s name, to the shortcode. 

When we worked with Senator Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign, we helped them advertise their shortcode to build their SMS list. For example, they sent emails to their house list asking people to sign up for SMS messages. They also posted opt-in information to social media, and notably added it to their podium sign with “Text CRUZ to 55022.” Through these channels, we were able to acquire more than 3,000 new SMS subscribers when Senator Cruz announced Carly Fiorina as his running mate.

Like any other fundraising channel, it is important to communicate with your list regularly and incorporate non-fundraising content into the mix. Ideas for non-fundraising messages include exclusive content, such as pictures or video messages from the candidate, and useful information such as polling locations or even coupon codes to an online store. 

Planning content in a forward-thinking, strategic manner will warm up your list. It will help recipients recognize your campaign’s shortcode, and see that you’re not just asking for something – you’re also offering interesting, useful information and valuable offers.

Another fun way to engage your list is to plan a campaign around an event. 

During Senator Cruz’s presidential campaign we laid out a one-day SMS plan to engage voters and build anticipation for his VP announcement. 

  1. First, we sent a teaser message to our subscribers in Indiana only, inviting them to personally attend a rally where there would be a big announcement.
  2. Next, we sent a teaser message to the full list telling them there would be a big campaign announcement that afternoon.
  3. The campaign deployed similar messaging on social media and in email, pushing people to subscribe to our SMS list so they would receive an exclusive text regarding the announcement.
  4. After the announcement event, we immediately sent a message to the SMS list that announced Fiorina as Cruz’s running mate, and included a link to their new website.
  5. Finally, we followed up with a final SMS message that included a donation ask.

A Few Words on Logistics…
SMS offers a wide variety of exciting ways to engage with your list, but there are some limitations to be aware of. Text messages can only be 160 characters or less, which may require some creative spelling, like replacing “you” with “u” or breaking up a single message into multi-part messages.

There are also messages that are mandatory to send to subscribers under current regulations. These include an opt-in message that a subscriber will receive after they initially subscribe, as well as an opt-out message that a subscriber will receive any time they elect to stop receiving messages. 

While these opt-in and opt-out messages are mandatory, there is still an opportunity to make them unique. For example, when we acquired many new subscribers on the day of Cruz’s VP announcement, we modified the opt-in message to include language encouraging people to “stay-tuned” for future exclusive updates from the campaign.

Interested in learning more about how your campaign or committee can put Backr to work? Please contact us today.

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