Millions of phone conversations made during election cycles inevitably move to this question: “can I count on your vote?”
These calls are significant for a campaign in figuring out their confirmed vote bank and where they stand against the opposition.
But how is the experience at the other end of the line? Does the call affect the voters’ impression of the candidate? Are repeated calls from spirited volunteers more or less likely to swing their vote in favor of the candidate?
To determine if political phone banking is effective, we must first go into the basics of what it means and where it is commonly used.
Phone banking in the political space is a method to use phone calls for –
- Canvassing for votes
- GOTV efforts
- Voter identification
- Voter registration
- Awareness campaigns, and more.
This article explores whether phone banking is a truly effective initiative for campaigns to undertake and spend significant time and money on. Let’s get started.
What is Phonebanking?
For the uninitiated, a phone banking campaign could be a group of volunteers manually dialing several contacts or a sophisticated call center software-led drive. In the latter, volunteers are introduced to an autodialer software to make calls to an extensive list of voters at incredible speeds and efficiency.
Volunteers from within the campaign or telemarketing teams hired for phone banking efforts typically make calls to eligible and relevant voters (voters who already lean towards a party or candidate) in a constituency for any reasons we have listed below.
Is Phone Banking Effective?
One has to wonder – do people respond to calls by strangers and decide to vote based on that? Would people genuinely donate money because a volunteer on the other end of the phone asks them to?
Let’s explore what different studies have to share.
1. Political phone banking is one of the best canvassing methods
Traditionally, door-to-door canvassing is a popular method for campaigns to reach out to voters and raise awareness about their campaigns. However, right after door-to-door canvassing, phone banking is the most sought-after canvassing technique.
Here’s how phone banking helps canvassing efforts:
When you consider costs, some estimate the cost per vote through door-to-door canvassing at $33, while phone banking brings in a vote at $36. While it seems costlier, phone banking is a worthwhile investment when you consider logistical and other costs associated with door canvassing.
It reaches a large number of people in a short period. Studies show that a door canvasser can knock up to 20 doors an hour, but using an autodialer can help volunteers reach 110 people per hour.
If you have a smaller number of volunteers, phone banking is a more effective way to reach out to a large group of voters.
2. Phone banking helps clean lists quickly!
Political campaigns acquire voter lists to begin their campaigning process. However, they also need to know which voters to contact for effective campaigning, fundraising, and GOTV drives. Voters who lean towards their party and can donate or support them are the ideal target audiences.
However, identifying these voters is not easy since most lists acquired by campaigns are not clean – that is, they may have numbers that are on the DND list, contacts that might have moved cities, etc. – basically contacts that may not serve your campaign.
Phone banking campaigns help you reach many contacts in a short period to clean your lists swiftly.
Building and cleaning lists is an extensive activity that every campaign undertakes as the campaign progresses. Using phone banking and effectively utilizing your volunteer network will help save time and effort.
3. Call time is an effective way to raise $$$
Every successful campaign needs funds to run its election campaign. Political fundraising is made smoother through call time (also known as ‘dialing for dollars’). Call time is when candidates spend directly speaking with potential donors to raise money for their campaign.
Call time is the number one way in which candidates raise money. It leverages personal connections and one-to-one conversations to appeal to donors.
4. Volunteer-led fundraising
15–25% of donors respond to telefundraising by campaigns. That’s an encouraging statistic to give political phone banking a try.
Through phone banking for fundraising, you can:
- Identify potential donors.
- Run calling campaigns to reach them.
- Tag relevant and prospective donors for future reference.
- Follow-up through texts and share donation links.
Phone fundraising might also seem appealing when you realize that response rates to calls are 250x more than emails.
5. Phone banking for voter registration
Voter registration is a hassle in the United States. Here’s why:
- Less than 20% of voters have been offered the opportunity to register to vote at a motor vehicle agency or other government agency for elections.
- Many voters report not knowing how to register to vote.
- Politicians are making it increasingly difficult to vote, with about 400 anti-voter bills passed in 48 states recently. Voter suppression is a real problem.
Phone banking serves as a great way to ensure you can direct your supporters to register to vote, explain the steps for registration, and follow up to ensure that they have indeed registered. Your win depends solely on the number of voters who actually turn up to vote. Therefore, voter registration is an integral part of campaign activities.
Types of phone banking campaigns
Since we’ve determined how effective phone banking can be for different campaign activities, let’s explore the different types of phone banking campaigns.
1. In-person phone banking
In-person phone banking is where volunteers all sit together and make calls. There are numerous benefits to conducting an in-person phone banking campaign. It becomes easier for campaigns to train and support their phone banking volunteers. Also, working together helps overcome call reluctance and encourages volunteers.
2. Distributed phone banks
Distributed phone banking can happen from anywhere! Volunteers can choose to stay at home or make calls sitting at their favorite cafe. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, distributed phone banks seemed like a self-evident choice for political campaigning.
Distributed phone banks are also inclusive since they allow people from all walks of life to contribute to the political process meaningfully. Anyone – young, old, or differently-abled can contribute from a comfortable space.
With a good software such as Robocent, distributed phone banking campaigns can also easily comply with the law. Here’s why you need to consider it:
When volunteers call from different states, they may be in a different time zone than the people they call. With strict laws around permitted call timings, you need to ensure your volunteers comply with local state timings. Timezone calling can allow callers from anywhere to stay compliant with the legally allowed call timings of a state without having to calculate the permitted times constantly.
When volunteers from different areas call someone from the constituency you are targeting, the people may not pick up the call. Voters are more likely to pick a call from an unknown number if it reflects a local area code. Dynamic caller ID features in your software can reflect a local code when callers call voters in a different district from theirs.
3. Hybrid political phone banking
Hybrid phone banking campaigns are for those who do not want to miss out on the best of both worlds – in-person and distributed calling.
A hybrid phone banking campaign can accommodate volunteers who want to participate from home and those who want to turn up at your office for in-person calls. This way, whenever volunteers can, they show up and can still foster a sense of community and purpose together. Those who can’t, well, they’re still helping in the best way they can.
The way forward
Phone banking has been effective in helping campaigns reach out to a large number of people in a short amount of time. The right calling software to aid your phone banking efforts is an excellent asset in your outreach efforts. To summarize, the right calling software can:
- Help you maintain clean lists.
- Save notes and records from calls.
- Help live call monitoring for training.
- Enable follow-up through other communication channels such as texts.
- Help you stay compliant with laws.
Set up your first phonebank today; contact us to help!