7 Common Mistakes of Political Phone Campaigns

May 2, 2016 | Peter Ritcheson

Despite advances in other forms of voter outreach, none of them can match the efficiency and efficacy of a well-executed phones program. And with NGP VAN’s Phone Tools, we take this to another level by allowing users to create Robocall, Predictive Dialer, or Paid Live Call campaigns directly through the VAN interface with results returned in real time.

By avoiding the mistakes below, you’ll be sure to get the most out of our tools:

 #1. Not Knowing Your Tools

We offer four different phone tools and they all have their unique strengths and ideal use cases – so make sure you choose the right tool for the right task.

Be it for GOTV, reminding people attending an event, voter persuasion, there is nothing as cost effective as Robocalls. A 30 second call sent to 1,000 voters only costs $13 and saves you a huge amount of time.

RoboSurveys are a great way to get out a large number of calls with the added benefit of being able to collect responses from your target audience. If you want to recruit volunteers or conduct polling, RoboSurveys are an inexpensive way to gather the information required.

Predictive Dialer allows you to supercharge your voter outreach. Instead of making 10 to 12 calls per hour hand dialing, Predictive Dialer allows your callers to make between 30 and 35 calls an hour. The set up and caller UI are all contained within VAN so you won’t need to worry about exporting and importing data. Check out this case study of how Democracy Awakening used Predictive Dialer to contact thousands.

The Live Call Tool is our newest phone product. You can create a script and target universe in VAN, and then send it to one of our partner call centers. Results are returned in real time, so you no longer have to wait until the end of the day or until a call campaign is done to get actionable data, and accurate modelling.   

#2. Not Having a Big Enough Universe for Predictive Dialer

If the Predictive Dialer tries a number and it reaches voicemail or gets no answer, it will put that number back into the queue after a delay of 3 hours (to avoid calling people continuously). If your universe is too small, you may end up with your callers waiting for an extended period of time for those numbers to become active again.

 As a rule of thumb, it is best to plan to have 100 numbers per caller per hour in order to avoid this. If your universe is more targeted than that, please contact us and we may be able to help.


#3. Not Tailoring Your Universe 

Not all days and times are created equal for outreach. For example, if you are calling a universe of people under the age of 30 during the day, you’re likely to have a very poor response rate – people in that age range are often at work or school. Think about your target audience and their behaviors, and plan accordingly.

#4. Not Giving Phone Bankers Time to Practice 

Although you and your team may be experienced phone bankers, it’s always a good idea to give any newcomers to the Predictive Dialer a chance to test out the system and get comfortable before they start making calls. 

Also, remember that once the dates and time window for a predictive dialer campaign have been created, they’re locked in place. If you’re planning to call from 4pm to 6pm, it’s a good idea to create a call campaign that starts at 3pm or 3:30pm so people can test it out before jumping in.

#5. Not Calling Cell Phones 

As many of you have likely heard, the FCC has implemented new regulations to crack down on autodialer calls to cell phones without an explicit opt in. While political and informational calls do have many protections, robocalls and predictive dialer calls to cell phones are open to fines from the FCC and state regulations.

Since 47% of voters don’t have a landline (and that number skews higher among  young voters), this cuts off a huge number of people from being reached out to. Thankfully, we have a solution to this problem: the Live Call Tool. Our partner is able to call cell phones and stay in compliance with FCC regulations.

#6. Limiting yourself to English 

Hispanic voters are important. If you don’t have the people to make calls in Spanish, then we can help you with that. Our vendor has callers able to make calls in three different regional variations of Spanish at no extra cost.


#7. Not Dealing With Issues Right Away

Most importantly, if you have any problems please reach out to our phone services team as soon as possible. We want to make sure your campaign is successful as possible, and that means diagnosing any problems immediatly, and getting you back on track as soon as possible. 

If you follow these 7 tips your you’ll be on track for a phenominal phones campaign. We wish you the best of luck on the trail and this November – and as always, if you have any questions please feel free to reach out to me at pritcheson@ngpvan.com