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Popvox Frequently Answered Questions

How effective are Volunteer GOTV calls?

In Get Out The Vote, Donald Green and Alan Gerber summarize experimental testing of volunteer phone banks. In 2002 GOTV phoning, a NALEO phone bank generated one additional vote per 22 contacts (4.55%), and another volunteer campaign by the Michigan Democratic Party which contacted 5,319 young voters was able to raise turnout by one vote per 29 contacts (3.45%).
"The rule of thumb that emerges from our review of this literature is that one additional voter is produced for every thirty-five contacts (or twenty-eight contacts per vote if phone banks with paid staff are excluded from the category of volunteer phone banks."
(Get Out The Vote, 75-76)

"Controlling for demographic characteristics and past voter turnout, the authors estimate a 3.5 percentage point (with a standard error of 1.7 percentage points) boost in turnout among the individuals who were actually contacted by phone calls."
— Article available at http://research.yale.edu/GOTV/?q=node/25

"When all eight experiments are pooled together, results suggest that being contacted by a volunteer phone bank increases the likelihood that a citizen will vote by 3.8 percentage points with a standard error of 1.4 percentage points."
— Article available at http://research.yale.edu/GOTV/?q=node/21

By delivering 2.5 times more voter contacts per hour, by improving the number of volunteer hours, and by promoting a relaxed state of flow in agents that encourages them to connect with voters and engage their attention over the phone, Popvox can deliver a cost-effective, scalable effect on poll results and election outcomes alike.

Will people hear an annoying pause at the beginning of calls?

No. Direct Leap's products always offer constituents a real message from the moment they pick up the phone. We have developed technology to detect answering machines that allows the volunteer to be connected immediately — without the telltale pause that prompts most people being called to hang up.

Popvox connects the call immediately when it is answered, maximizing the authenticity of grassroots calls, and reaching your supporters or members the first time the phone rings. While other predictive systems give constituents the experience of dinner-time telemarketing, calls made using Popvox sound just like a call from a neighbour.

Due to the design of traditional predictive dialers, picking up a telephone call only to find 'dead air' is a common experience. This silent pause is caused by logic used by traditional predictive dialers to decide if a telephone number has been answered by a live person, or by an answering machine. Standard dialer systems record the first few seconds of the call, and route the call to an agent only if this recording sounds like a person saying, "Hello? Hello?" — this results in the silent pause for 3-5 seconds before an agent comes on. (If the constituent doesn't say anything, most predictive dialers simply hang up, resulting in a nuisance call.)

Popvox paces its dialing using advanced logic that ensures that an agent is virtually always available to take the call. In the rare event that an agent were not available when a call were picked up, Popvox can be configured so that the constituent receives a recorded message, or else waits for an agent to become free. We have found that this rarely happens when using an up-to-date telephone list.

Why use a hosted predictive dialer?

Hosted predictive dialers can be deployed much more quickly, and are managed professionally by Direct Leap operations and technical support staff. We take responsibility for the deployment, maintenance, network upgrades, testing, monitoring, and after-hours support of the specialized infrastructure with our dedicated technical staff.

We also manage multiple high-density optical telephone trunks, so we are able to share the ongoing costs, specialized maintenance, and exacting quality management of these facilities between many users — so our customers can focus on building campaigns and on the content of their messages.

How long has Popvox been in use?

Popvox was originally developed for the 2006 election cycle in the United States, and has been proven by delivering several million phone calls for dozens of campaigns. Direct Leap Technologies, Inc. has joined the continuing development and maintenance of the product, and the Popvox system is operated from Direct Leap's secure telecommunications data center facilities in Dallas and California.

Direct Leap's Automated Telemessaging Service started delivering millions of phone calls in spring of 2004 when released for Canada's federal election. Direct Leap has served the New Democratic Party nationwide since 2004.

Is Popvox Open Source?

We offer an open source client implementation of our software that uses our professionally hosted backend, allowing programmers at client or partner organizations to build our functionality into their own systems. This can be used to embed our agent-facing Web interface into an internal website, or into an existing membership database system.

Is this a VoIP Service?

No. The volunteers can use an office phone extension, a regular residential line, or a cell phone. If callers have a VoIP device at home this will also work, but we like to keep VoIP out of our list of acronyms except for where it's a requirement. This is not really a VoIP service — it's a telephony service.

All the caller needs is a web browser and a regular phone. Even dial-up will work, since we don't require VoIP.

How are answering machines handled?

With Popvox, agents can leave their own personal recording on answering machines, or can personally introduce a standard, pre-recorded voicemail message. The agent selects the pre-recorded message with a single mouse click, freeing the agent to move on to the next call.
"This is Sandy, a volunteer with the Rainforest campaign, calling for John Smith. Sorry I missed you! Here's an urgent message from Al Gore about our global warming rally next week."
(Agent clicks button to deliver pre-recorded message.)

If the agent chooses, by clicking "Leave Message" while the answering machine's announcement is playing, the system automatically waits for the answering machine beep to deposit the pre-recorded message, allowing the agent to move on to the next call sooner.

Popvox importantly eliminates the telltale silent pause at the beginning of the message, which identifies the call as a predictive dialer and, in other predictive dialer systems, results in large numbers of constituents immediately hanging up.

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