P2P: Personal Texting As A Powerful Persuasion Tool

December 15, 2020

By Ryan Dysart

When Facebook, Google and other major platforms put a pause on paid content related to politics and political issues following the 2020 election, advertisers were faced with a choice: slow their ads on affected platforms to a standstill and hope for a quick return, or try something new.

Well, here we are more than one month later – and many of these platforms are still on lockdown.

However, here at PLUS, we chose to innovate.

The need to find new avenues to reach our clients’ target audiences led us to peer-to-peer texting or P2P. Peer-to-peer differs from standard bulk texting programs in that human intervention is required to send each message. Rather than an automated program sending each text in massive batches, in P2P, each text is sent with the touch of a button by a real human being – we’ll get to why that’s important in a moment.

We found that what had been tapped almost exclusively as a political fundraising tool has substantial persuasion potential for our public affairs initiatives.

As a still-emerging tactic, mention of P2P is often met with many questions:

● How does P2P really work?
● Why is it better than automated blasts?
● How can it be used?

Let’s dive into those questions (and more):

How Does It Work?

P2P is designed to bring the personal touch that is missed in bulk short message service or SMS communications, both in the eyes of the law and the recipient.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA) prohibits sending text messages using an “Automated Telephone Dialing System” without receiving express consent from the recipient.

Receiving this permission is something marketers do all the time, known as a double, opt-in. When you receive a message which says, “Reply YES to receive more updates,” your “YES” allows the use of an automated mass-messaging system to send you as many messages as desired until you opt-out.

The beauty of P2P is that it’s not an automated system. Since it requires a real human’s push of a button to deploy a text, it is not classified as an “Automated Telephone Dialing System” and thus falls outside the scope of the TCPA. Unlike bulk SMS deployments, a P2P message is a personal communication between two human beings and does not require the consent provided in a double opt-in scenario.

Why Use P2P?

Great. I understand how P2P works. But why not stick to regular bulk SMS sending?

Rather than being able to text the five to 10 percent of your list who consents to receiving a message, P2P sending allows you to reach 100 percent of them – and with near-100 percent delivery rates and 90-plus percent open rates, your message is going to get read, too. P2P is one of the last uncluttered advertising mediums. Rather than injecting your message into a crowded news feed, an overflowing inbox or a pesky display ad, P2P allows you to send your message directly into your target audience’s pocket.

But even more important than the incredible deliverability of P2P is its personal nature. Unlike bulk SMS or any of the other advertising mediums mentioned above, P2P is designed for one-on-one conversations.

You can’t respond to a display ad. You can’t open up a dialogue with a six-second YouTube bumper. But with P2P, the real person sending out messages also sees incoming replies, and can open up a one-on-one discussion with someone wanting more information or needing a personal nudge before buying into your message. This makes P2P a persuasion tool unlike any other, short of knocking on doors or inviting someone into your living room.

What’s Possible With P2P?

Say you have a newly-cut 30-second video ad. You’re already running it on broadcast, cable, YouTube and Hulu. You have great inventory locked in already, but you’re looking for another way to really cut through and create an entirely cross-channel, surround-sound impact.

You turn to P2P. Your 30-second spot is compressed down to fit inside a text message, you draft up a quick message to accompany it and you start blasting it out to the cell phones of people you’re targeting with other platforms – all without needing to slow down to ask for permission.

Maybe after your ads have run for a few weeks, you want to check in on how many people are really on your side of the issue. You compose a brief text asking them right up front: “Reply YES if you’ll support our cause.” In a matter of minutes, replies begin pouring in and you have a curated list of advocates.

All this said, P2P is a great persuasion tool, but it requires a fair amount of manual labor. In order to get it right, you need to commit the time and manpower required to physically send messages, wade through replies and engage in an informed and tactful manner.

Not every campaign has the budget for an on-the-ground field team making personal connections with the people you’re trying to persuade. But for a very affordable cost and some manual button clicking, peer-to-peer texting allows you to open up a one-on-one conversation with more of the people you need to persuade, right where they are.

Contact us to learn more about how PLUS Communications can help you turn your next campaign into a surround-sound effort with P2P texting.