The Scale to Win team chatted with a Democratic State Party about how they used Scale to Win Spoke to run a massive, innovative vote by mail drive. Read on to hear from this State Party to learn how they used STW Spoke to bolster turnout among new and first time voters.
The Top Line: We texted Democratic voters statewide about Vote By Mail (VBM), primarily targeting people who requested a VBM ballot in 2020 to encourage them to vote by mail again in the municipal elections in 2021. We made great use of STW’s fantastic VAN sync to send specific calls to action to each voter in outbound messages and helped increase the number of young voters doing VBM!
What we did: In order to turn out Democratic voters during the second year of a global pandemic, and in an off year election to boot, we needed to encourage Democrats to request vote by mail ballots and then return those ballots. To do that, we turned to the Scale to Win texting platform.
From August-November 2021, we sent 2.6M texts to 945k unique voters asking them to vote by mail, and then reminding them to return their VBM ballots. Our texting program turned out to be our single most cost effective method to encourage voters to request and return their VBM ballots.
In order to achieve this great efficiency, we ran weekly text banks starting in August of 2021. During each new round of texting, we used the Scale to Win built in A/B testing tool to find the most effective language for our texts. We found that straight-forward, PSA-style texts with a (trackable) link in the initial message were the most efficient and cost-effective type of message to get people to request their ballots. By using trackable links, we were able to determine that the cost-per-visitor to the VBM request site was ~80 cents/visitor, our most cost effective outreach method. Thanks to Scale to Win’s great toll free offering, we were also able to test using local numbers vs using toll-free numbers and found no meaningful difference in reply rates or opt out rates.
We started reminding voters to return their previously requested VBM ballots beginning in October. During this “ballot chase,” we targeted every Democratic cell number in the state who had a mail-in ballot. Scale to Win’s low cost and easy budgeting tools helped us create our texting plan and reach out to many more voters than we would have been able to using other tools.
We kept these texts short and sweet! Some were just one segment – under 160 characters. Since every county in the state has different rules and hours for ballot drop boxes, we used the VAN sync built into Scale to Win’s platform to insert the voter’s home county directly into the script along with a county specific custom link that included the best local information to help voters find the best place to return their ballot.
We aimed to provide useful and actionable information to as many people as possible. For us, that looked like including links in the initial outbounds, using variables to send people to their county’s landing page, and more.
We’ve found that people who vote by mail have historically been older, and generally more likely to skew Republican. In 2019, during the last municipal election, 5% of VBM requestors were in the 18-29 demographic range that we made a priority to help turnout. This year, 11% of VBM requestors were in our 18-29 target demographic. With the help of our P2P program, there were more younger VBM requestors this year than any recent municipal election, and these voters returned their ballots at the same rate as democrats state-wide, despite a younger, less likely to vote demographic with lower turnout scores!
- 2.577M texts with 268k conversations. ~10% response rate
- 945k unique voters contacted
- 147k voters received a mail in ballot – more than 50% of these were new registrants and/or did not vote in 2019
- 75k were mailed a ballot after the time they received a text from us
- 400k voters texted to return their VBM ballots
- This program doesn’t work without a really good VAN sync like Scale to Win’s that lets you bring in all the variables about the voter. We used ‘county’ as a variable to send county-specific dropbox links to different people.
- The STW campaign follow-up tool makes it really easy to do a second pass, and remove people who’ve responded in a previous text campaign that they already voted.
- Scheduling texting once a week helped us have cleaner data, give clear expectations to volunteers, and make running our program easier. There was a significant delay from the state in getting VBM request data into VAN. We were able to wait until the morning of our text days to pull our lists with the most up to date information about who had requested a ballot already directly via the STW VAN integration without needing to go through the more time intensive process of exporting data as a CSV from VAN.
- The STW A/B script testing feature was instrumental to help us test the best message and create the most cost effective texting campaign.