Strategic Communications #17: ROI on Phones to ID Latent Support

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(This is the 17th in a continuing series on strategic communications. Click here for earlier segments)

By Owen Eagan, The Saint Consulting Group

As discussed in a previous post, phones are extremely effective for GOTV purposes, particularly when local volunteers are used, producing 1 vote per 38 contacts (see Strategic Communications Part 1: Grassroots Organizing and GOTV Efforts  The return on investment (ROI) for this type of activity is also extremely high given the nominal costs involved.

But phones offer one of the best voter identification methods as well.  For example, phones are especially useful in identifying latent support.  Latent support is support for your project that exists among residents but has yet to be demonstrated.  In small communities, this support is best identified with more personal outreach such as door-to-door canvassing.  However, in larger communities where methods such as door-to-door canvassing are cost-prohibitive, the best means of identifying latent support is through a phone identification program.

Though direct mail can also be used to identify latent support among large voter universes (see Strategic Communications Part 11: The ROI on Direct Mail, a phone identification program is much more effective.  While direct mail only has a typical response rate of 1-3%, a phone identification program can help you identify many more supporters as it has a completion rate of 40-50%.  For instance, if you have a universe of 10,000 voters, you’re likely going to be able to contact 4,000-5,000 people.  Hypothetically, assuming awareness is low and 25% of those contacted support your project, you would be able to identify 1,000-1,250 supporters.

This type of program consists of a brief survey that is usually comprised of only several questions.  These questions mostly measure level of awareness and support but can include questions relative to messages and demographics.  Though not scientific, the results will give you a good sense of voter attitudes towards your project and, more importantly, will provide you with specific data on supporters, opponents, undecideds and persuadables.

The cost for a phone identification program is roughly $1.00 per complete, which is also the equivalent of your cost per voter contact (see Strategic Communications Part 8: Budgeting Your Resources to Win  So, using our previous example of 10,000 voters, a completion rate of 40-50% would mean that you’re able to reach 4,000-5,000 voters at a cost of $4,000-$5,000.  If you’re able to identify 1,000-1,250 supporters, this would mean a cost of only $4.00 per supporter.  Therefore, phones should always be considered when developing your campaign plan in light of their significant ROI for both voter identification and GOTV efforts.

Owen Eagan is a Senior Consultant for The Saint Consulting Group, email or phone 781-831-2494

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