Incorporating a Polling Strategy Via SMS

It’s time to cast your vote, because paper ballots have become a thing of the past! One of the most refreshing and innovative new services to emerge from the world of SMS marketing is polling. It’s often been said that SMS polling is incredibly versatile and can be used in virtually any industry. But how are completely different industries applying this exciting and progressive new feature? Below are a few in-depth examples of groups that have incorporated a polling strategy into their marketing plan and how it’s transformed their business for the better.

The Pittsburgh South Side Soup Crawl

One sizable group that has benefitted from the ease and excitement of integrating a live poll feature a more traditional promotion platform is the restaurant owners of Pittsburgh’s South Side. For the last decade, restaurants such as the Pittsburgh Steak Company, Lin’s Asian Fusion, and Gabriella’s Gourmet on the Go have taken part in an annual soup crawl to benefit the Brashear Association’s Food Pantry.

The Pittsburgh South Side Soup Crawl typically takes place in early February along the South Side district-based Carson Street and features over 20 restaurants in collaboration with a number of retail outlets in the area. The event encouraged residents, gourmands, and restaurant-goers alike to sample a plethora of featured soups and cast their vote in categories like Most Creative Soup, Best Vegetarian Soup, and People’s Choice for Best Soup.

In years past the voting took place on paper ballots that were then compiled and counted by event organizers following the completion of the crawl. However, paper ballots presented a host of problems for both the organizers and the participants. First, the amount of time and work involved in collecting and counting all of the ballots required the use of several volunteers. Because filling out paper ballots and keeping track of them while sampling soups proved to be distracting, the majority of attendees declined to participate in the voting. It was also so easy to lose paper ballots in the midst of all of the excitement and the accuracy of the final tally was always dubious at best.

In February of 2012, the Soup Crawl organizers decided to try something new. They decided to eschew paper ballots in favor of a system that utilized SMS. The organizers assigned a specific ID number to each soup that was in contention. Participants would then text the number belonging to their favorite soup in each of four available categories to an assigned shortcode (A shortcode is a unique number that can be used to address SMS messages from mobile phones and are named as such because they are much shorter than the average telephone number). Because attendees no longer had to worry about carrying around paper ballots and could actually watch the soups compete in real time on their phones, the 2012 Crawl benefitted from increased participation from past soup crawls. In fact, participation went from 12% during the 2011 crawl to a whopping 70% in 2012! As you can see, using an SMS polling system over paper ballots had a huge impact on this events’ turnout.

ADDY Awards Ceremony

Another organization that has made the switch from an antiquated paper ballot system to an SMS poll option is the Akron chapter of the American Advertising Federation. Each year the group holds its annual ADDY Awards ceremony to honor local advertising efforts. Much like the restaurant owners of Pittsburgh’s South Side, they encountered several issues when making use of paper ballots. Their biggest concern was how time consuming it was to count all of the votes as the event was unfolding.

Recently, the American Advertising Federation applied an SMS polling system to the awards ceremony and, like the restaurant owners of Pittsburgh, identified a number of advantages to the new feature. Once again, the convenience of voting via text message prompted more attendees to participate. Because the poll happened live, the People’s Choice Award winner was selected promptly and was presented with an iPod Shuffle at the podium soon after. Attendees were much more engaged in the event because they could enjoy the live voting experience as they waited for an incoming call that announced the winner in real-time. And because attendees were limited to one vote per mobile number, the possibility of “ballot-stuffing” was no longer an issue. The event also resulted in the establishment of a mobile marketing database for the Akron chapter of the American Advertising Federation, allowing the organization to keep registered members informed about future events.

NBA All-Star Player

Even the National Basketball Association is getting in on the action! Every year the NBA invites basketball fans to cast their vote for the All-Star Player of Year. In 2009, the NBA decided to to implement an SMS voting system for the annual fan engagement. Participants were asked to text the last name of their NBA player of choice to the shortcode MYNBA.

One of the most appealing attributes of an SMS poll is the comprehensive level of customization they afford businesses. For example, the organizers of both the Pittsburgh South Side Soup Crawl and the ADDY Awards Ceremony restricted voting to one vote per mobile number. The NBA, however, allowed fans to vote for 10 different players each day per mobile number and voting through SMS polling represented one of several ways to vote for the NBA All-Star Player. The amount of variations available for a poll run via SMS are staggering!

The 2014 NBA All-Star Balloting saw Lebron James of the Miami Heat received the most votes, leading the charge with a massive 854,105 ballots cast in his favor. Following closely behind was Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant at 850,728 votes. As you can see, participation for the nationwide polling event was high. It’s also important to note that there were several ways that fans could cast their vote, including through Facebook and Twitter, but that the majority of votes came from the SMS poll.


So, there you have it! Groups from three distinct industries that have taken advantage of the freedom and versatility that an SMS poll feature can offer. But restaurant owners, advertising organizations, and national sports leagues are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to all of the possible applications of SMS polling. For more information about how Txtwire can transform your business or organization through the power of an SMS poll, check out our web page dedicated to the feature here. And be sure to keep checking our other blog posts for more in-depth analysis of the SMS marketing industry.