Editor’s note: Mckay Bird is marketing manager at telecommunications firm TCN, Saint George, Utah. 

As old-fashioned as it might sound, the telephone is still a critical component in communication during political outreach. Throughout election season, specifically the presidential election, grassroots organizations across the country are working endlessly to compile data on individuals in an effort to better connect with them and inspire a rush to the polling stations for local and national elections.

Cell phones instead of landlines

Nine out of 10 Americans own a cell phone according to the Pew Research Center, that has increased its polling via cell phones from 65 percent to 75 percent in the majority of its telephone-based surveys. This increase in mobile surveying was inspired by the 47 percent of American adults who only use a cell phone instead of a landline. The demographics between those adult Americans who only use a cell phone compared to those with a landline are also telling. Americans that only have a cell phone tend to be younger, less educated and receive lower incomes compared to those with a landline.

Despite these numbers that show the dramatic shift in how Americans prefer telephone services, there are still many polling firms that do not include cell phones in their surveys, thus missing out on collecting a true sample representative of U.S. adults. Pollsters not including more cell phones in surveys typically comes down to one major factor: overhead costs. According to TCPA regulations, cell phones are required to be manually dialed by an agent. Manually dialing cell phones requires more time which also increases survey costs. Cell phone surveys can cost almost double the amount it takes to complete an interview via landline. Because of this reason alone, many pollsters choose to either dial fewer cell phones or to exclude them from samples.

Engaging with audiences

During elections, a single call center can make more than 200 million calls and surveys within any given year. For political firms and strategy companies looking to engage with their audiences about important issues in order to conduct surveys and research, cloud based call center technology is one method to consider.

As previously mentioned, federal regulations mandate that all cell phones be manually dialed by agents, which can become quite costly. Polling and surveying in such massive quantities requires a solution that can facilitate hundreds of calls per day. Despite the number of volunteers and interns that a political firm may be able to solicit, the sheer manpower to meet such high demands is almost non-existent. Cell phone identification and scrubbing is a process that identifies cell phones and allows clients and agents to take proper action with those phone numbers. Cell phone scrubbing can be mandated by a block assignment system, which involves the listing of a range of phone number prefixes that are solely assigned to wireless carriers.

Contacting cell phone only individuals is specifically important for issue-based campaigns. Not all hot button issues are single vote political items, sometimes they require additional touchpoints between organizations and survey-takers. With issue-based campaigns, it is easier to implement to a campaign for any length of time and enable follow-ups with contacts before, during and after the vote takes place.

Cloud-based survey technology can be used on not only the national level but the regional and local level as well. School boards, community organizations and other grassroots organizers can easily leverage call center technology to encourage civic engagement and drive participants to the polls.

With the election cycle in full swing, it is imperative that political firms and organizations understand the importance of evolving and adjusting as our culture of communication technology continues to change.