More Blog Posts

How to Set Up a Text-to-join Service to Collect More Contacts

A text-to-join service with an SMS keyword is an easy and effective way to grow your contact lists. Learn how it works and how to set it up.

Featured image for the article

What’s the number-one thing you need when starting up your text marketing program? Say it with me….people to text.

That being the case, you’ll need a convenient, eye-catching way to get people to sign up for your texts. 

That’s where text-to-join comes in.

I’ve personally set up multiple text-to-join campaigns of my own during my time at SimpleTexting, and I’ll run through the whole process from start to finish here. 


What is text-to-join?

Text-to-join, sometimes called text-to-subscribe or text-to-sign-up, is an easy way to allow your audience to opt in to your SMS messages or emails.

By the way, you can get more than just phone numbers or email addresses from new contacts who sign up using your text-to-join program. You can also collect customer details like first names, last names, zip codes, or even specific product preferences using data collection.

In a few simple steps, you’ll effectively increase your mass texting and email marketing lists and set yourself up for future success in communicating with those contacts.

Here’s an example of an auto-confirmation text your new contacts might get after signing up for your texts.

You are now signed up for text updates about the 5th Annual Mobile Marathon. Reply with your email to get updates there, too.

How does text-to-join work?

Text-to-join programs are simple to set up and convenient for your audience to use.  

Here’s what a typical text-to-subscribe campaign looks like:

  1. You create and promote your keyword.
  2. Customer texts the keyword to your number.
  3. They receive an auto-confirmation message.
  4. You send your first SMS campaign to your subscribers.

1. You promote your text-to-join program.

After creating the SMS keyword for your text-to-subscribe program, you’ll want to encourage customers to subscribe. 

Invite them via social media, email, and other marketing channels to text your keyword to your number, and watch your text-to-join mailing list grow before your eyes!

2. Your customer texts your keyword to your number.

A keyword is a word or phrase that customers text to your phone number to sign up for your SMS messages. 

For example, a store called Cool Shirt could ask customers to text “ILOVESHIRTS” to their number or short code. (Keywords shouldn’t have spaces and can’t contain special characters.)

3. They receive an auto-reply confirmation.

After a customer texts to join with the keyword “ILOVESHIRTS,” they receive an automated response. 

4. You send your first text marketing campaign.

Once people sign up for your texts, you’re ready to send your first SMS marketing campaign

These campaigns can contain anything that’s important or valuable to your contacts, so feel free to get creative!

🔖 Need inspiration? Bookmark these 16 SMS campaign ideas for later.

Collect email addresses with text-to-subscribe

Now that you know how text-to-join works, let’s look at how you would gather your contacts’ email addresses as well.

SimpleTexting’s Zapier integration allows you to add new text message contacts to your favorite email marketing platform, like Constant Contact and Drip. We also have a native Mailchimp SMS integration

Here’s how a text-to-join email integration works:

  1. Your customer texts your keyword to your number.
  2. They receive a confirmation message requesting their email address.
  3. Zapier automatically adds their address to your email marketing platform.

How to set up text-to-join

Now that you know how a text-to-join service works, how do you set one up in the first place? 

First, you’ll need an SMS marketing platform. If you don’t have one, you can sign up for SimpleTexting free for 14-days to test drive our text-to-join features.

To set up a text-to-subscribe program:

1. Create your SMS keyword.

Set up a keyword and an auto-confirmation message welcoming your contacts and letting them know what kind of messages you’ll be sending them.

You can also request any other details you need from them in your welcome message, or you can automate a data collection campaign that gathers information and attaches it to their contact entries. 

Creating a text-to-join keyword in SimpleTexting
Creating a text-to-join keyword in SimpleTexting

📚 Recommended reading: Welcome text messages tips for new customers

Thanks for joining our text list! Stay tuned for exclusive deals and wellness tips 😀

You can even set up a series of autoresponders to create an onboarding drip SMS campaign.

An example of a text-to-join autoresponder
Setting up a text-to-join autoresponder

2. Share your keyword with your audience.

Promote your keyword anywhere your customers will see it so they can easily sign up for your texts.

Example of a text-to-join keyword advertisement
A graphic promoting a text-to-join keyword

This article on ten places to advertise your keyword should give you some ideas, but for starters, consider placing your keyword on:

  • Your website
  • Your social media
  • Your storefront
  • Any paperwork you hand out to your customers
  • Your business cards

3. Send marketing campaigns to your new subscribers.

Now that you have a list full of subscribers, start sending texts to your new and improved text or email lists.

📚 Recommended reading: 11 SMS marketing use cases

3 text-to-join examples from real business owners

Need some inspiration for your text-to-join program? Here are three real-world examples of successful text-to-join campaigns:

1. Artist Couture

The team at Artist Couture noticed that though they received a substantial amount of website traffic, most didn’t follow them on social or subscribe to their email list They needed a convenient way to keep in touch with potential customers.

After setting up a text-to-subscribe keyword, the team added a mobile sign-up widget to collect sign-ups.

Hey sis! Welcome to the #GlowGang! I’ll keep you updated on everything Artist Couture! Now that we’re text bff’s, you’ll be the first to know all the tea! XOXO

A day after a contact subscribes, they receive an automated message with a 10% off coupon. The result? Artist Couture’s SMS subscriber list grew by 670% and generated $4,000 in sales.

2. Mendocino Farms

Mendocino Farms searched for an easy way to announce the launch of online ordering across their 27 restaurant locations. 

Their biggest question, though, was how to let all of their customers know when online ordering was available at their favorite location.

The team created text-to-join keywords for each location and invited customers to subscribe. Then, new subscribers received an automated message asking for their email address. The whole set-up process only took the Mendocino Farms team a day to complete.

To find out when we launch online ordering for our California Plaza location, please reply to this text with your email address.

3. Blu Moon Design

After moving her children’s clothing business from eBay to a dedicated website, Kristi Brady of Blu Moon Design wanted her marketing to stand out from other online stores.

Kristi knew that her primary customer base — busy moms — almost always have their phones close by, so she turned to SMS marketing. 

To build her list, she created the keyword “Blumoon” and invited people to text it to her number to learn about upcoming sales and promotions. She offers new subscribers a 10% off coupon to boost sales, and she’s seen a 15% redemption rate.

Start your text-to-join program in minutes

Not ready to commit to a text-to-join service just yet? We get it. That’s why we offer a risk-free trial of SimpleTexting.

It’s completely free for 14 days — no credit card or contract needed, so you can try out a text-to-join campaign for yourself.

This article was published on March 15, 2019, and was updated on August 10, 2023, by Dani Henion. Nathan Ellering contributed to this piece.

Alfredo Salkeld
Alfredo Salkeld

Alfredo leads the marketing team at SimpleTexting. In addition to writing about SMS, he also talks about it—literally. He narrates our how-to videos.

More Posts from Alfredo Salkeld

Send Your First Message in Minutes

Start a text marketing campaign or have a 1-on-1 conversation today. It's risk free. Sign up for a free 14-day trial today to see SimpleTexting in action.

Try Us Free

No credit card required

Build a text marketing plan that works for YOUR business. Start Here.