Cutting Through the Noise: The Power of the Personalized Health Call

By Chris O'Brien

Every election season, we are bombarded with messages and advertising about candidates and issues, and a presidential election generally triggers an avalanche of calls to our homes.

Consumers wind up overwhelmed or fatigued by all the messages, and many people (like my family) resign themselves to long evenings of just letting the phone ring or turning the ringer off. And in the midst of the current and highly controversial presidential election season, the calls are reaching a fever pitch. So who can possibly get through and why?

At Silverlink, a Welltok company, we have been communicating with consumers for more than 14 years about the most important topic: their health. We wondered if all the political messaging and calls were turning consumers off to any call, about any topic, even something as important as their health, so we took a look at data from the last hotly-contested 2012 election, and the answer was a resounding “NO.”

While some restrictions have been put in place since the 2012 election cycle, political robo-calls – those which promote either a particular candidate or referendum position or ask people to participate in a survey or poll – are still commonplace. As much as 80% of the hundreds of millions of political calls made each year are made within 10 days of an election1, bombarding 2 out of every 5 voters with a pre-recorded campaign call 2. This is comparable to the volume – but not the lovability – of calls made on Mother’s Day.

Concerned clients routinely ask us for guidance as to whether or not they should pause their on-going calls, or postpone new calls, until after a presidential election for fear that their important health messages will get lost in the din.

To answer this question once and for all, we examined the results of two very consistent, ongoing programs for two national clients.

We looked at the weekly engagement rates for these two calls over a 12 week period preceding election week of 2012. Our hypothesis was that if people tuned out health messages at higher rates in the presence of political robo-calls, then the engagement rates within these programs would significantly underperform when and where robo-calls were most likely to occur: as the election drew closer, and in swing states where the stakes were highest.†

The results showed, happily, that people continued to prioritize relevant messages about their health throughout the election period, and at consistent rates in both swing states and non-swing states. They key is personalizing the calls based on the consumer's preferences and needs to drive meaningful action. 

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Billions of phone calls are made each and every day in the United States, and in some election cycles it can seem like all of them are pushing one political agenda or another. The power of personalized communications significantly enhances your ability to cut through the noise of the political season.


† Swing states were those identified by politico.com, and included: CO, FL, IA, NV, NC, OH, VA, and WI

  1. http://www.newsweek.com/politics-do-robo-calls-work-91491
  2. http://www.people-press.org/2014/10/28/fewer-voters-report-getting-robo-calls-campaign-ads-still-pervasive/