Text campaigns to influence Senate runoff elections

WSAV NOW

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV)—Leading up to the January fifth runoff elections, Georgia voters are receiving more campaign ads via text message now more than ever.

WSAV NOW reporter Claire Going spoke with experts about how text marketing is expected to influence election behavior in 2021.

A record number of Americans turned out to vote in the 2020 presidential race between President Donald Trump and President-Elect Joe Biden despite the pandemic.

CEO of Gupshup Beerud Sheth, the world’s largest developer of AI smart messaging, says that’s because campaigns connected with constituents using text messaging more than any previous election.

“It’s certainly an important communication tool and in contrast with social media, it allows you to have private, almost personal conversations,” Sheth said.

Sheth says it’s likely campaign texts will have a similar impact on the January runoff elections. 98 percent of people who get a text message will read it—and 90 percent will do so in the first three minutes.

“People have a tendency to do inbox-zero,” he said. “So people read every message. And they’re more likely to act on it. The other thing is it’s been impossible to do door-to-door with the pandemic.”

If you’re getting an influx of texts about the upcoming Senate runoff, you’re not alone. Sheth says spending on social media and live events saw a double-digit falloff this election season as campaigns opted for SMS marketing instead.

“It’s much more interactive, engaging, that allows people to figure out for themselves what they want to do. So I think it’s going to become even more important. We’ve barely scratched the surface,” he said.

He says it’s important to vet numbers that contact you by phone to avoid scammers taking advantage of this trend.

“If a message clicks over to another site I think it’s important to verify what the site is about,” Sheth said. “You might end up contributing to the wrong campaign or the wrong purpose.”

For those receiving too many messages a day—or wondering how your number got on the calling list— Sheth says opting out is probably your best bet.

“Candidates work with each other,” he said. “So usually, one campaign will develop a list and if they support or endorse the other candidate and they will share their lists with each other.”

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