When it did finally come, it included another request for money in exchange for a limited-edition T-shirt. Despite the wording of the message thanking supporters, it could come across as a little ungrateful – and confusing. If he already won, why does he need more money? Why did it take a week to say thank you?
My guess is whoever was running his SMS marketing decided to wait on the thank you message until they had the T-shirts sorted. That was a missed opportunity to show real appreciation for the supporters. Especially since they planned to keep asking for money (in the US campaigns can continue to raise funds to help offset their debt, but that’s something most American’s don’t know about).
As of this writing, the messages are still arriving. They’re offering Christmas ornaments and other goods for purchase or in exchange for a donation. Will the good will of his SMS supporters continue after the election? Time will tell, but probably not if they forget to be timely in their basic manners.
Did they do it?
On multiple occasions, the messages asked for donations to meet a certain goal. Usually, this was a financial goal, something like $10M in two days. But only once in the messages did I see them let people on the list know if they met the goal.
That’s a let-down to everyone who contributed. Wouldn’t you want to know if a goal was met if you donated to a cause? Granted, many people donate a few pounds (dollars in this case) here and there and don’t think anything of it. But people who agree to be on an SMS list aren’t just any old person. They are ardent fans or believers in the cause. I think this was another missed opportunity on the part of the campaign.
Whether they made the goal or not, informing their supporters of the outcome would be another way to engage them. If someone contributed they could cheer and feel more connected to the cause because they were a part of it. If they contributed and the goal wasn’t met, that might help them be more willing to give more next time they were asked. And if someone didn’t give, knowing that the goal wasn’t met could push them to donate next time too.
I couldn’t find any reference to who won any of the trips to NYC or on Trump Force One. Did they pick anyone at all? This omission can raise some doubts about the truth in the requests. Donors could feel like they’ve been scammed if no one won the trip.
Disclosing the outcome of sweepstakes like this helps build trust with donors. I don’t know if doing so would help people donate more, but I do know that if they don’t trust the person asking for money they won’t give more.
All it would take is one short message thanking everyone who gave, then provide some identification of who it was that won. Trust would be maintained and the donations would keep coming in.
It didn’t appear than any of the requests, sweepstakes, or opportunities sent to the SMS list were exclusive. Even though multiple messages referred to his “most ardent” or “BIGGEST supporters”, it looks like the offers were available on every channel he used (email and his website).
When fundraising you obviously don’t want to limit who can donate by only contacting a select list of people. But there are ways to make the SMS channel exclusive. Perhaps SMS supporters could have received early access to the items they were selling, guaranteed seats to events, or another smaller giveaway exclusive to the list.
Wrapping it all up
This was a deep dive into many messages sent by the Donald Trump SMS campaign. It’s clear whomever took over his SMS marketing late summer knew how to effectively put the channel to use. He engaged his supporters, made them feel connected to his campaign and they gave him money when they asked. In the end, they took the action he requested by voting for him.
Now, his whole campaign encompassed more than just SMS, but the examples shared here show how the combination of message types contributed to his success. For anyone looking to run a fundraising campaign using SMS, it’s an interesting set of lessons that can be applied to other organisations.