To get started with text marketing, you need a list of phone numbers and permission to text them. Get inspired by these tactics.
Even if you have a list of phone numbers, if those contacts haven’t specifically opted in to SMS marketing texts from you — it’s illegal to text them.
If this leaves you in the position of having to build your text list from scratch, don’t panic. You’re not alone. We’ve seen thousands of businesses go from zero subscribers to a profitable, engaged text message mailing list.
In this article, we’ve compiled the most popular tactics to collect phone numbers for SMS marketing.
28 text list building tactics:
People are protective over their phone numbers. You need to offer something of value in order for someone to opt-in to your text list. This could be:
The first step to collecting phone numbers for SMS marketing is to decide on an incentive. If you’re feeling stuck, keep it simple and offer a discount.
Next, try these tried-and-true tactics to collect phone numbers for SMS marketing:
In SMS marketing, a keyword is a word or phrase that people can text to your number to opt-in to your text message mailing list. It’s the foundation for many of the ideas below. So, make this your first move.
You can create a link that when clicked opens a person’s native message inbox with a pre-filled text message. These click-to-text message links are great for embedding in emails, blog posts, pop-ups, and other digital content you share with your audience. Note: These work when someone taps them on their mobile device.
QR codes can do more than direct users to a URL. Use a free QR code generator to create a QR code that opens the user’s native texting app when scanned. You can have it auto-populate the message field with your text-to-join keyword.
Add this QR code to your website, in-store signage, product packaging, and anywhere else your customers may see it.
We built a free tool that lets you design a custom button that sits in the corner of your website. When a user clicks it, it launches a pop-up with more info about your text message marketing list. With one more click, the texting app on their phone will open with your text-to-join keyword pre-filled in.
You can help any web visitor to become an SMS subscriber with a simple form that invites them to share their phone number. We make it easy to input a custom form onto your website, just copy and paste this code we pre-made for you!
Once your sign-up form is up it’ll work for you 24/7 capturing new leads at every chance.
Already have a contact form on your site? Add a phone number field, along with a checkbox for contacts to opt-in. Be sure to include compliant SMS opt-in language. Remember, that checkbox is crucial for staying above board with texting regulations.
If you’re still using traditional paper forms, add a space for customers to provide their phone numbers to join your text list. If there is already a phone number field, add a checkbox for them to opt-in to receive SMS marketing messages.
You may be already collecting phone numbers for shipping notifications, but remember that those are transactional messages. If someone agrees you transactional messages, that doesn’t grant you permission to add them to an SMS marketing list.
(Read more about the difference between promotional and transactional texts.) Add a checkbox with TCPA-approved language for users to opt into your text marketing list. You can then use Zapier to sync your contacts with SimpleTexting.
In-store foot traffic presents a great opportunity to grow your text marketing list, too. A simple idea is to include a table tent on your checkout counter. A basic flier with your number, keyword, and description of your text marketing service should catch customers’ eyes as they make their purchases.
Be sure each table tent has a clear CTA so people can take action and subscribe on the spot.
Empty space at the bottom of receipts or invoices is valuable real estate. Add a call-to-action like, “Save 10% on your next purchase by joining our text message list.”
Advertise a giveaway where customers must text a keyword to your phone number to enter. Promote the contest on social media, in-store signage, or through your email list. Here’s a video on how to set up an SMS sweepstakes in SimpleTexting.
With text-to-vote, contacts will automatically be prompted with multiple question after texting in your keyword. This is an easy way to engage your customers and gather their opinions while building your text message marketing list.
Utilize tools like click-to-text buttons, allowing customers to text you directly with questions. Text-based customer service provides a threaded conversation record and eliminates the need for customers to be on hold.
Every business has an expert in something. If you’re a cosmetics company, you likely know a lot about skincare. If you’re a BBQ sauce company, you likely know a lot about grilling. Advertise a “text for help” hotline where customers can text in a keyword to be connected with an expert. SimpleTexting offers two-way texting so you can easily have 1-on-1 conversations with customers.
Create a post, story, or short video announcing updates and discounts for members. Add THE necessary disclaimers to comply with TCPA. Your biggest fans want to hear from you. They don’t want to miss your posts or have your emails get sent to spam. They’ll be excited to be part of your SMS mailing list and be confident they’re informed about your latest offers.
Your existing email list is low-hanging fruit. Send your subscribers an email introducing your text message marketing list, complete with incentives like discounts or early access to deals.
Include a call-to-action prompting them to either text a keyword to your number or sign up through a form on your website.
Add a text opt-in link to your email signature. If your company sends many emails or provides customer support via email, include a line in the signature promoting your text club and linking to an opt-in form.
In addition to listing your phone number and email address on your business card, include a QR code recipients can scan or a keyword they can text in to subscribe to your SMS messages.
This will expand your reach from customers who are interested in calling or emailing you to those who’d rather text.
Don’t hand your business card to another potential lead without making sure your keyword is displayed there, too. You can even create a keyword and custom autoresponder for each employee!
Include a message in your business’s voicemail, inviting callers to join your text list for faster updates or exclusive information.
If you use print media like newspapers or magazines, include your text-to-join information in these ads, targeting a broader audience including those not typically online.
This is a tactic we’ve seen our own customers at Maker’s Collective, an artist and community event organizer, deploy with a lot of success. They include their email opt-in information on postcards they leave at local partner shops.
“Since our event is focused on local artists, it’s really effective to have postcards in local coffee shops and anywhere that will take a stack of postcards. That kind of grassroots method works well for our event.”
If you sell physical products, consider including a sticker or small paper slip encouraging customers to join your text message marketing list. One common use case is to use a text-to-join keyword connected to an autoresponder that requests a product review.
Direct mail may be an old-school tactic, but it’s highly effective when combined with SMS marketing. When I ran a small beekeeping company, I sent out postcards encouraging people to text us for a property assessment. It cost $590, but yielded a 21x return.
If you run a brick-and-mortar business, take advantage of the real estate on the back of your employee’s uniforms. Print custom t-shirts with your shortcode and keyword.
Display your phone number on company vehicles and invite people to text you. When parked outside homes or business locations, your fleet essentially becomes free advertising. As I mentioned in tip 7, don’t forget there is a difference between transactional and promotional messages. If you want to add customers to a text marketing list, you will need to include the relevant disclaimers.
📕 Learn how Bin Blasters uses vehicle wraps to build their text mailing list.
This approach doesn’t require offering discounts but instead capitalizes on your expertise. For instance, if you run a lawn care business, send timely reminders about essential lawn maintenance tasks, like when to schedule lawn aeration.
Similarly, a pest control company could provide seasonal alerts for critical treatments, such as termite prevention. The beauty of this strategy lies in its simplicity and value. It costs you nothing but offers significant value to your subscribers.
Advertise it and have customers sign up with your text-to-subscribe keyword. Use SimpleTexting’s birthday text app to automate the process of sending a discount to your SMS subscribers when their birthdays roll around.
Maker’s Collective hosts Indie Craft Parade among other events. At a recent event, the organization hung a poster with a message, “Text MAP to…” to receive a digital map of the event texted right to their phone number.
They also asked attendees to sign up to receive text messages at check-in.
SMS marketing is regulated by the TCPA. Regardless of how you choose to get mobile numbers for marketing, you will need to follow promotional requirements. Your calls to action must be accompanied by a disclaimer such as:
This disclaimer must include the following:
Ultimately, following these guidelines will help you build trust with your customers, lower your unsubscriber rate, and set you up for success with your text list building efforts!
Disclaimer: Please note that this advice is for informational purposes only and is neither intended as nor should be substituted for consultation with appropriate legal counsel and/or your organization’s regulatory compliance team.
Nathan is the head of content and SEO at SimpleTexting. With the help of an awesome team, he’s attracted more than 65 million website visitors, converted 10 million email subscribers, and supported 300,000 software users. He's written for the likes of Fast Company and his work has been referenced in publications like Forbes. Nathan has 15 years of proven corporate and startup marketing experience and continues to venture off the beaten path. When he’s not marketing, you’ll catch Nathan canoeing in the Boundary Waters or training for his next ultra marathon. Connect with Nathan on LinkedIn.More Posts from Nathan Ellering
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