An SMS subscriber list holds massive potential as a robust source of revenue and engagement from existing customers and followers. Are you growing it as much as you should be? Attracting more SMS opt-ins will deepen your relationships, increase loyalty, improve your service, and ultimately lead to higher revenue. After all, SMS is known for having a near perfect open rate with up to 98 percent of texts being read.
But before we look at how to get more SMS opt-ins, we need to clarify a couple of legal issues.
SMS is not like email. Yes, there are compliance requirements with email and those are getting more strict all the time. But, in the United States, SMS compliance regulations are already universally established at a federal level. The consequences for violations can be swift and painful. If you don’t obtain and document clear consent from each person who opts in, you can be fined $500 to $1500 per infraction.
So as you grow your SMS list, do it the right way — make it clear to each subscriber that they are consenting to receive texts from you and ensure they understand what that means.
As long as you do that, all ten of the strategies below for growing your SMS list will work great. So let’s dive in!
1. Just ask
If they already enjoy doing business with you, many people will be readily agreeable when it comes to opting in to SMS messages. If you ask kindly, they’ll jump on board without hesitation. So while the other items on this list are helpful to boost your numbers, sometimes we can overcomplicate things a bit.
Whenever you interact with a customer — either in person, on the phone, via email, in live chat, or on social media — toss in a simple request to join your SMS list. Add it as a regular part of your checkout or customer service flow. No incentives, no pleas, no offers — just ask them if they want to join. Some will say yes.
Asking is better than not asking, and sometimes, it doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that.
2. Add an SMS opt-in opportunity at checkout
Checkout is a great time to get SMS opt-ins because you have a customer who’s most likely excited about their purchase. That means they’re in a state of mind with a high degree of favorability toward your business.
With online purchases, include a checkbox or callout box on the checkout page, and ask them to join your SMS list. If you’re worried about messing with your checkout design, see strategy number three for a great alternative.
If they’re shopping in person, have a brochure, point of sale sign, or index card that may include a QR code, and offer it to everyone who makes a purchase.
3. Add it to your thank you page or thank you automation
In addition to or instead of using your checkout page, which might already be busy enough, add a request to join your SMS list on your thank you page. You likely have transactional emails automated for receipts or onboarding. Add a request to sign up for SMS marketing to that process.
This is a great follow-up to making a purchase because you can position it as an easy way to receive updates about the status of their order or new account and receive discounts on future purchases.
4. Offer an SMS opt-in reward or benefit
The more actively you’re marketing to your existing SMS list, the more you can afford to offer a nice reward to all new SMS subscribers. Why? Because you’re presently extracting value and not just building potential for the future. Whatever work you put into building your list now will pay off much sooner than later.
If your organization has been able to establish a clear ROI for your email marketing program — and especially if you’ve been able to quantify a value for each new subscriber — you can absolutely justify expenses related to SMS marketing. In fact, because of the high level of engagement with SMS, you may be able to safely assume a higher value per subscriber than you currently see with email.
Rewards can come in any number of forms, such as:
- Gift cards
- A free bonus gift
- Elimination of certain fees for a set time period
- Percent or dollar off of their next purchase
- Percent or dollar off of this purchase
- Bonus points if you have a rewards program
- Upgraded tier status for a subscription or account
- Free shipping on this order
You have quite a variety of choices, and surely at least one of them fits your organization.
You’ll notice that these opt-in benefits fall into two categories — future rewards and immediate rewards. You can decide which might be more exciting for your customers. The main advantage of a future reward is that it motivates a second interaction, and that’s a key step to improving average customer lifetime value. Plus, if they never redeem it, then it costs you nothing.
5. Free contest entry
If you have some sort of contest or sweepstakes going, giving a free entry to anyone who opts in to your SMS list is a great way to attract new signups.
You can often do this at the point of registration via another format. For example, if someone registers for a contest via email, you can offer bonus entries if they also subscribe to your SMS marketing program.
6. Send an email
Your email list isn’t your SMS list, but your email subscribers have already consented and are used to receiving marketing offers and other communications from you. If you’re doing a great job with your email marketing program, these people will be more likely to say YES to opting in to your SMS list.
You just need to show them the unique advantages and services that are only available through SMS.
For potential subscribers, SMS will not replace email, but will provide an additional means of being served by you.
So, just send out an email that asks your current email subscribers if they want to join your SMS list. This is a great strategy to use if you’re newer to SMS marketing because it will give you a sudden infusion of subscribers.
Even if engagement rates aren’t incredible with this method, a couple of emails a year can add a nice infusion of subscribers without taking anything away from your email marketing efforts.
7. Create exclusivity
How can you make almost anything more attractive? Make it exclusive.
Come up with a few perks for your SMS subscribers that will be unique to them. No one else gets what these people get. A few ideas you can consider include:
- A first look at new and upcoming product releases
- Special SMS-only deals and discounts
- Exclusive content that no one else sees — interviews, celebrity greetings, etc.
- Instant notifications of changes to order status, account, etc.
- Automatic discounts or special treatment at upcoming events
8. Give CLEAR directions
All the other SMS opt-in ideas on this list are great, but if your customers can’t navigate the process quickly and easily, it will all be for nothing.
Whatever marketing literature you produce for your campaign to attract more SMS subscribers — emails, social posts, television commercials, index cards, flyers, radio ads — make sure you include clear and specific instructions for what to do.
It’s usually pretty simple, such as texting a word or very short phrase to a particular number. Sometimes there are additional steps.
Whatever your process, make it clear to everyone.
9. Promote your SMS opt-in everywhere
Should you promote your SMS list at checkout? Yes. But don’t stop there.
Put it everywhere:
- Social media
- Website — multiple pages, not just the homepage
- At the end of YouTube videos
- Print ads
- In-store signage
- Live chat
- Radio ads
- On your actual product packaging
- Store receipts
- Airing on your TV advertisements
- At the end of emails
- Anywhere else you can think of
The great thing about asking for SMS opt-ins is that the actual copy doesn’t have to be that long, because this request isn’t unfamiliar to most people. This doesn’t take up a lot of space, so you can fit it in just about anywhere.
And once you have the assets in place, you can reuse them over and over.
10. Make it easy
The most unique feature of most SMS opt-ins is the word or phrase customers text to join your list.
Don’t make this word or phrase too long or weird. Don’t get too creative by combining a bunch of words together. Creativity is no good if it adds confusion or makes it easy to misspell the phrase.
Keep it simple.
Be Honest About What to Expect
In all your SMS opt-in marketing, make sure you cover your four main bases. Your efforts to ask customers to join your list need to include these four components:
- How often you plan to text them
- The phrase “Msg and Data rates may apply”
- Instructions on how to unsubscribe
This can all be accomplished in just a couple sentences, but it sets the expectations for your customers so they have a sense of what they’re signing up for. One text per week? Two per month? Decide on what you intend to do, and stick to it as much as possible.
Combine Strategies for More SMS Opt-Ins
As you’ve probably gathered by now, the best strategy for getting more SMS opt-ins would involve a combination of many of the tips on this list, if not all of them.
This is about repetition, persistence, ease, and service. SMS is just one aspect of your customer communications. But if you don’t grow your list, you’ll shrink it, because people will unsubscribe over time. Keeping your list the same size takes work, for that reason. Growing it and reaping all the financial rewards that come with it — that’s a task best accomplished with a prolonged, ongoing, concerted effort.
Regardless of the organization — from traditional commerce to service-based and educational institutions — SMS can’t be overlooked as a key method for accomplishing marketing objectives. The emfluence marketing platform includes SMS Marketing automation tools that make building a successful program a straightforward process.