Adding P2P calling to your outreach strategy
Incorporating peer-to-peer (P2P) calling into your outreach strategies can be super easy with GetThru's best-in-class dialer. ThruTalk is an easy and intuitive tool to reach your target audience without the need for printed call lists, manual dialing, or paper entry. This guide will help you plan the major aspects of your P2P calling program. While this guide will help you to get started, be sure to check out the rest of the ThruTalk Help Center for more detailed information about how the platform works.
Who will you call?
ThruTalk can be used to make calls at blazing speeds, and having great list & data management is pivotal to running an effective calling program. In general, your phone calling targets can be divided into two main types: known supporters and cold contacts. ThruTalk can be a valuable tool for reaching both audiences, but your approach will likely vary depending on which audience you are targeting.
Known supporters will be the people most receptive to speaking to the campaign. These conversations should be longer than cold contacts, which is a good thing -- when your callers get into real conversations with your supporters, it deepens everyone’s engagement. This does mean that your callers will get through known supporter lists slower, but keep in mind that ThruTalk charges by the dial, not by the minute, so there is no financial penalty for longer conversations. Reasons for calling known supporters include:
- Volunteer Recruitment
- Event Turnout
- Vote-By-Mail Ballot Chase
- GOTV reminders
Using ThruTalk for cold contacts is a great way to identify new supporters, who you can then recruit to become more deeply engaged as evangelists, volunteers, and donors. Conversations with cold contacts will be shorter than with your known supporters, and your callers are more likely to encounter hostile contacts, so be sure to prep them for that possibility. Cold contact calling includes:
- Support Identification: Will the call recipient be supporting your campaign?
- Polling/Survey Collection: How does the call recipient feel about a particular issue?
- Persuasion Calls: Convincing “on the fence” voters to support your campaign.
- Cold GOTV: Encouraging people who you think are likely supporters to go vote.
When you figure out which audience you’ll be contacting, you’ll need to begin cutting lists and uploading them into ThruTalk so you can start calling. You can learn how to upload a list here. And here are some best practices for list management in ThruTalk.
- VAN Integration: GetThru has a comprehensive integration with VAN that enables you to import contacts from VAN directly into your account. Learn how to get integrated here.
- List Format: All lists uploaded into GetThru must be in CSV (.csv) format. Adding descriptive headers to your list will help when it comes to mapping required and custom fields.
- List Sizes: Wait times and dials per hour will vary depending on the number of callers (more on that below). To be on the safe side, we recommend having at least 250 numbers per caller per hour in your list. For example, you should have at least 7,500 numbers for a 3-hour shift with 10 callers. Groups can have a maximum of 50,000 contacts, and files can be a maximum size of 7.5 MB.
- Do Not Call: You may want to update a list you’re currently working on to prevent certain people from getting called, e.g., a phone bank taking place after a large door-knocking push. To make sure your callers are only talking to people who have not been contacted by the campaign that day, you can add contacts to the Do Not Call list .
What Will Your Callers Say
Once you know who you plan to call, your next step is to decide what you want your callers to say. ThruTalk makes it easy to guide your callers’ conversations via an interactive script that leads them through the call based on what responses they record. Here are some best practices for script writing:
- Script Question Types: There are 4 different question types for different needs, including multiple choice (pick one), checkbox (pick many), freeform, and text blocks. You can read more about these question types here. Be sure to use the script preview to make sure your questions branch correctly.
- VAN Integration: Sync your results directly to VAN by creating a VAN-integrated script and adding survey questions or activist codes. You can search for a VAN survey question and add it directly to your script. Learn how to map those here.
- Question Branching: Control which question appears next in your script by adding branching logic to your questions. You can select the next question based on a contact's response from a dropdown menu. Read more about this here.
- Script Length: While the length of your scripts will vary depending on why you’re calling, we recommend keeping your scripts short -- under 5 minutes of total speaking time, which usually means a short introduction and 3-4 total questions per branch.
- Instant Follow Up: The Instant Follow Up feature allows callers to send a text to the contact they're speaking to, while on the call. This can be used to send contacts a link to your website or additional information. Admins can read more about how to add this question type to a script here, and callers can read more about how to use this feature during a call here.
- Custom Variables: You can add custom variables that populate individual caller data and information directly into your script. Read more about this here.
We highly encourage you to read your script out loud before you start calling to test the length and to make sure that it sounds natural. For more on the nuts and bolts of creating your script, read our support guides here.
When Will You Make Calls
To get the most value out of your calling program, you’ll also need to consider when you will use ThruTalk.
Whenever you plan to make calls, you should time your phone banks with an eye to when your contacts are available and when you want them to act. Here are some best practices for scheduling your calling:
- Keep in mind that the more callers you have in the system, the more efficiently it runs. Wait times can range from 2-3 minutes for 1-3 callers, to less than 30 seconds in a phone bank with 20+ people. So having 20 people calling at the same time is far superior to having 20 people all calling alone at different times.
- We recommend having your volunteers commit to making calls during a 3-hour shift, which is generally the standard length of an organized phone bank.
- Most campaigns find that the best hours to call are between 5PM and 9PM in the target’s timezone. While most people are available during those peak hours, calling during the daytime in the workweek can catch those who work non-standard hours.
- Recruitment for volunteer efforts or events should begin around seven days before the event occurs. This gives your contacts a reasonable amount of notice before an event to make a commitment but is not so far away that they will forget.
- If possible, you should plan to do reminder calls three days out, the day before, and the day of the event if possible. Recent studies have shown that sending reminder calls and texts to volunteers significantly increases their rates of attendance.
- If you are using ThruTalk for fundraising and trying to acquire new donors, we recommend tying your calls to milestone moments like the day(s) before a reporting deadline, a major news event relevant to your campaign, or days of note including holidays, birthdays, and history/heritage months (e.g., Black History or LGBT Pride Months).
Where Will You Make Calls
Whether you are hosting in-person phone banks or having your callers log in from home, ThruTalk’s web-based interface gives your campaign the flexibility to phone bank from anywhere. Here are some tips for giving your callers the best possible experience regardless of where they are calling from.
IN-PERSON PHONE BANKS
Traditional phone banks at your office are great for building your team’s morale and make for easier training and support for callers.
- Working with your office’s layout, the ideal phone bank with ThruTalk should have tables and chairs so your callers can have a place to put their laptops. Callers should be spread out enough to have real conversations without disturbing their neighbors. Encourage a communal atmosphere by having set break times, which will cut down on more frequent or longer breaks during call time. Be sure to have a space for snacks and drinks. Better yet, use your script to ask targets who can’t come to phonebank to donate snacks!
- Training your volunteers to use ThruTalk is easy, before they arrive, you can have them watch our short video on how to use ThruTalk. Before you start calling, you can have them review the script with your script preview and use that time to address any of their questions regarding the script.
- There are a number of ways to keep up morale and caller engagement during a phone banking shift. Many campaigns use encouragement like ringing a bell every time they get an RSVP or a commit to vote. A visual thermometer tracking calls and contacts will help people keep big picture goals in mind. And appointing a volunteer or organizer to act as a floating caller will give your volunteers the flexibility to use the restroom or get snacks without slowing the pace of calls.
- While most business internet plans can support the bandwidth of a fully staffed ThruTalk phone bank, you should try to minimize the load on your internet so your phone bank can continue at full efficiency. Your volunteers should not be streaming music or videos or accessing other websites while they use ThruTalk as that can put a burden on your internet and cause connection speeds to suffer.
- We recommend asking volunteers who are too busy to volunteer physically to loan spare laptops and over-the-ear headsets to the campaign so you can make sure every volunteer can call, even if they forget to bring equipment.
DISTRIBUTED PHONE BANKS
Distributed phone banks allow you to engage volunteers who don’t live near a field office, including allies from outside your district or state. To get folks started, all you’ll need to do is distribute the login URL to your volunteers. Here are some other tips:
- You can train virtual phone bankers on the tool by distributing our 3-minute training video to virtual volunteers and by having short webinars (live or recorded) to get folks confident before they call. We recommend keeping your training videos to under 10 minutes in total, including the 3-minute training video.
- When working with virtual phone bankers, consider appointing someone on your team with ThruTalk admin privileges as a point of contact for virtual phone bankers to help them troubleshoot, understand the ThruTalk tool, and any other campaign specific-details you need them to know.
- Encourage your friends and volunteers to rope their networks into your efforts: Ask them to set up virtual phone bank parties and spread pictures of them having fun volunteering across your social media with your campaign’s hashtags.
- Make sure to follow up with your remote callers after their shift so they feel connected. Also, ThruTalk caller exports can help you make ongoing report cards and leaderboards to let folks know how they are doing and get recognition even if they never come to the office.
- Some campaigns have success mixing in-person and distributed phone banking by having remote volunteers calling at the same time as in-person callers. If you want to try this, consider starting the phone bank off with a conference call that brings together in-person and remote volunteers, and provides chat tools like Slack or Skype to help all of your callers stay connected.
No matter where callers are calling from, make sure that all of their cellular devices turn OFF the “make calls over wifi” or “wifi-calling” feature; this setting is not recommended and can result in a speaking delay.
Why Use ThruTalk
If you’re reading this guide, you’ve probably already thought about why ThruTalk is a good fit for your calling needs. But you also may find yourself needing to explain that choice to other colleagues on your team. Here are a few tips:
- Voter contact is all about volume. Using ThruTalk, you can reach speeds of 250+ dials per hour per volunteer. Not only does that help you reach your calling program’s goals more efficiently, it means your callers spend more time actually talking to voters, which is what they signed up to do.
- Instant data validation and recording. ThruTalk is able to filter through your numbers and report which numbers are no longer valid. Additionally, because of ThruTalk's dynamic scripts, your callers will generate data efficiently without breaking focus from their calling.
How To Get Started With ThruTalk
Now that you’ve thought about the basics of your calling program, here’s some guidance for how you can get started actually calling with ThruTalk:
Dive-in to ThruTalk
Don’t wait until right before you need to run a calling campaign to get to know ThruTalk. Our client success team is available to help train you and your staff and answer questions. We have an extensive support library as well that you can use if you’d prefer to learn it yourself.
- You can schedule a training on running a phone campaign with ThruTalk here.
- Begin inviting your colleagues to join your campaign.
- If you don't have an existing account, you can sign up here. If you have an existing account but need to enable ThruTalk, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Organize Your First Phone Bank
Your phone bank begins long before your first volunteers open their phones, having a successful phone bank will depend on everything you do in preparation.
- Load a list of contacts for your callers.
- Check out our Scripts in ThruTalk folder while creating your script to take advantage of all the features that make script creation so easy.
- Invite users to your account by sending them an invitation or using the Permanent Invite Link.
- Add callers to the campaign during campaign creation or with the Campaign Caller Invite Link.
- Let volunteers study the script before calling with the Script Preview.
Manage Your Data
Whether you’re phone banking for an event or volunteer recruitment or for GOTV, you’ll need to understand the data you receive in your reports. These articles will put your organization in the best position to take advantage of your data.