Permission Based Marketing

radio.jpgFor over a decade Seth Godin has been educating us about the necessity and the effectiveness of permission marketing. Relevance and impact are the result. This is the state-of-the-art today, but political marketing lags far behind the curve. Why? And what can we do about it?

Political campaigns cannot depend exclusively on opt-in communications to reach their target customer. Let’s face it; most voters do not seek out information about our candidate. An effective campaign must reach them despite this fact. The people who opt-in to receive email and who like our facebook page—although cherished as important advocates, volunteers, and donors— do not even come close to the required win number. To reach that 51% of the expected voter turnout, we must address a larger group.

And we must do this in a world where the voter expects more and more personal control of the communications that they receive. The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 established opt-out as a baseline, and regulations of texting and calling cell phones require a positive opt-in before you send anything to that device.

To analyze this challenge and to move political communications closer to voters’ expectations, we created the following matrix, which plots methods of messaging according to their relative targeting precision vs. the voter’s degree of control. This list is admittedly not exhaustive and it is understood that some methods could land in a different box depending on the details of the implementation.


In politics, the desired outcome is for the voter to take the action of voting for our candidate. This impact is more likely if we deliver a relevant message to an interested recipient. Targeting enhances relevance because we select people who are likely to be receptive; we design the message for them as well. Allowing the voter to control through opt-in and opt-out enhances the impact, too. The marketing dollars flow mostly to deliver information to those who, by definition, are interested in it.

We recommend that you look at every communication to voters, especially as we enter the important Get Out The Vote period, and execute that communication for maximum targeting precision and maximum voter control of message receipt.

Robocalls Featuring Press 9 to Opt-out

This frontrunner2020 website is produced in collaboration with People Calling People. This permission-based marketing insight has prompted us to include more voter control, including opt-out, as a standard feature of all robocalls. After you introduce yourself at the beginning of the call, voters are offered the option to press 9 to be removed from your list. They are also invited to press 1 to be connected to your campaign office. This changes the entire tone of the call for the 90%+ of voters who press neither 1 or 9. Those who press 9 won’t receive calls from you in the future, and you have diffused their negativity regarding the call. Those who press 1 are the most interested and engaged voters, and you get to talk to them live and elevate their level of participation in the campaign. Everyone else listens to your recorded message in a different frame of mind than they would have with an ordinary robocall.


To see more about the possibilities, visit Robocalls at People Calling People.

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