Resources Hub » Blog » Grow Your SMS Marketing List With These 5 Steps

Growing your SMS marketing list can be tricky for a number of reasons. Let’s break it down into five simple, attainable steps to help you get started.

You may be considering text message marketing because you’ve heard SMS messages have a 98% open rate. Unfortunately, that statistic doesn’t tell the full truth about how SMS marketing campaigns work. Text message marketing isn’t a quick shortcut to big results. Like everything else, it takes work.

Building an SMS marketing list isn’t just about getting people to enter their phone numbers into a form. It’s about building trust through clear communication and then giving your customers a reason to subscribe. Follow these steps to show your customers why sharing their cell phone number is a good deal for them, not just you.

1. Check your TCPA compliance

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which applies to marketing calls and text messages, makes it illegal to contact consumers without explicit consent. If you break the law, your company could face serious fines—up to $500 per violation. Get affirmative consent and keep records of it to avoid incurring such penalties.

The best way to do this is via a double opt-in process. After someone adds their number for SMS marketing, send a text with a code they must use to receive further communications. Make sure you tell them they might incur text messaging fees from their carrier before they finalize their subscription.

Example of a double opt-in text.

The TCPA also sets rules around when and how you can contact customers:

  • You must send between 8 AM and 9 PM in a customer’s local time to be compliant.
  • You can’t send a marketing text message to anyone on the national Do Not Call registry.
  • Every message must include your company’s name.
  • Every message must tell users how they can opt out.
  • 13 states (AZ, CA, CO, CT, FL, IN, NJ, ND, OK, RI, UT, WA, and WI) have their own laws governing text message. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the laws that apply to anywhere your consumers may live.

According to a Klaviyo report drawn from their SMS customers, an opt-out rate of over 2.2% signals customers are unhappy with your text message marketing campaigns. If you’re above this critical point, double-check your company’s TCPA compliance, then reconsider what your audience wants.

2. Tell subscribers what to expect

Avoid customer annoyance (and a high unsubscribe rate) by clearly communicating what someone is signing up for before asking for their phone number. Covering the “what” of your campaign means telling a customer how often you’ll text and what you’ll send, be it notifications or exclusive coupons. After setting those expectations, you’ll need to stick to them.

Consumers these days are also savvier about privacy. They’ll expect plain language explaining how you’ll use their phone number—and promising you won’t sell it. You should also tell them how they can get off your SMS subscriber list. Make sure it’s clear they can unsubscribe at any time without having to jump through hoops.

It can be difficult to share all that information in every situation. Set up a page people can visit to learn the details of your texting program. The Frye Company links to a privacy policy written in plain language from the page it uses to capture mobile phone numbers. Another option is to send the link to customers’ phones as part of the opt-in message, so they’ll know all the terms before joining.

3. Create campaigns specific to different segments and mediums

The best place to collect phone numbers for your SMS marketing list is wherever your consumers are. This means creating campaigns specific to the situations and contexts where you encounter your audience.

You’ll want to consider how to drive sign-ups through other marketing campaigns on your:

  • Website
  • Emails
  • Social media

As a rule, the easier it is to share information, the more likely people are to give it. Try pop-ups or a form embedded in your email. Your customers will be happy they can gain the perks of joining your text marketing list without interrupting what they’re currently doing.

You can also build your SMS list during in-person interactions. Offering consumers a chance to sign up while they’re browsing your store or at the checkout register gives them the opportunity to ask staff about your program. If you attend or host events, consider setting up a phone number collection program there.

4. Offer an exciting incentive

Your customers won’t sign up if they don’t have a good reason. Make people excited to join your SMS list by offering a reward for signing up. There are four main types of incentive programs businesses use.

VIP club or insider program

Your most loyal customers will love a program that offers them ongoing perks. The benefits of your VIP program will depend on your brand and sales model, but it should offer perks your customers can’t get any other way. Access to presales, birthday rewards, and free shipping are great perk options.

One benefit of tying your SMS list to an ongoing program is that customers will have an incentive to stay subscribed to your texts. VIP and insider programs can also increase customer loyalty when members feel they’re truly getting something special from the experience. Downsides include a sizable cost and the substantial effort needed to maintain such a program.

Example of a welcome SMS message.

A VIP Insider welcome text message. Source: MTN Ops via Yotpo


Exclusive text message deals

If you don’t have the capacity to support a full VIP program, you can create an ongoing text message deals program. The offers you send should not be available to anyone who’s not on your SMS marketing list. Customers won’t be happy if they find out they gave you their phone number for the same “exclusive” coupons you’re sending out in email blasts.

This type of program offers the same ongoing incentives as a VIP club but at a lower cost. However, it still takes some effort to administer. You have to keep your offers new and exciting so customers stay engaged with your text messages.

Exclusive offer SMS text example from Loft.

An exclusive deal for mobile subscribers Source: Loft via SMS Archives.


Checkout bonuses

Offering benefits to customers who are already committed to buying from you can help boost in-the-moment conversions. Try trading a discount code for your customers’ phone numbers during the checkout process. E-commerce businesses might also consider offering free shipping to customers who join your SMS contact list.

While a checkout bonus might be good for winning sign-ups at times of high customer engagement, they don’t offer ongoing benefits. There’s always the risk shoppers will sign up to get the discount and then immediately unsubscribe. You’ll have to find another way to offer continuing value via text marketing.

Checkout bonus SMS example from Greats.

A text message sequence welcoming new subscribers who signed up while shopping online. Source: Greats via Klaviyo.


Contest entries

People love free things. That’s a truism that likely won’t ever change, which means it’s a good starting point for any marketing campaign. Simply ask customers to sign up for your SMS list in exchange for their entry into a giveaway. You’re free to set whatever terms and criteria for winners you want. The most important thing is an opportunity that’s too good to pass up.

Like checkout bonuses, contest entries don’t offer an ongoing benefit, so you’ll have to follow them up with more engaging content to decrease the likelihood people will unsubscribe. Many businesses foster goodwill with every entrant by offering some form of consolation prize—like a coupon code—to anyone who doesn’t win.

Make sure you tell entrants they’re opting into future marketing messages when they enter your contest or you’ll be violating the TCPA.

Contest entry SMS example from Chipotle.

Entering a contest through SMS messaging. Source: Chipotle via Tatango.


5. Leverage your existing channels

If you’re adding SMS to your existing marketing mix, it’s important to remember that you’re not starting from scratch. If you have a list of email subscribers, you can always reach out to them via email and let them know that they can opt into SMS.

The signup forms on your website are another great place to start gathering SMS subscribers. Making it easy for visitors to opt in to SMS on your signup forms will go a long way in growing your SMS subscriber list quickly.

*Note: it’s important to remember that just because someone has opted into your email list doesn’t mean they’ve opted into your SMS list as well. SMS is a separate channel, and you need to get separate permission from each user before you send them an SMS message.

Combine SMS marketing with other channels for best results

SMS is great for certain marketing efforts, but its limits to message length and reach mean it can’t do everything for you. Combining SMS and email marketing leads to more effective campaigns. The secret is learning how to use each medium according to its strengths.

Your marketing strategy should always be evolving. Text message marketing gives you one more tool to prompt engagement and collect consumer data. You can use information gathered from email subscribers to help optimize your SMS marketing messages, and vice-versa. Let us help you link your email and SMS marketing campaigns for better results.

SMS and email are a powerful marketing combination
SMS and email are a powerful marketing combination

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This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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