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12 ways to grow your SMS list

Alia Paavola
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The first step to an effective SMS marketing strategy is to curate and grow your SMS list. But how do you get more SMS subscribers?

In this article, we will explore 12 proven tactics for businesses to grow their SMS subscriber list and reach a wider audience. From offering exclusive promotions to creating engaging content, we will provide practical tips that can help any business. 

12 proven ways to get more SMS subscribers

These tested-and-proven tactics will help you get more qualified SMS subscribers. Mix and match them as it suits your business needs and brand image. 

Set clear expectations

Texting customers without their permission is illegal. As a result, ensure you get proper opt-ins to grow your SMS subscriber list. This means sharing clear expectations with subscribers. For example, you’ll want to share:

  • The types of texts customers will get (marketing, appointment reminders, etc.)
  • Text message frequency
  • How customers can opt-out

Sharing these terms and conditions off the bat will ensure you’re getting subscribers who want to get text offers from your business, thus are more likely to purchase.

Here are 10 ideas for phrasing opt-in text messages

Be creative

Don’t be afraid to use creative language and messaging to encourage leads to join your SMS list. Don’t just copy what your rivals do; find a way to outshine them. 

Get your potential customers interested in your mobile marketing program with content that sparks interest or is outside the box. For example, consider promoting your mobile campaign on a printed receipt, running a unique ad, or adding flare to your SMS subscription messaging. 

Encourage leads to opt in with a keyword

Get customers to opt in to your SMS marketing messages with a text-to-join campaign. These campaigns encourage customers to text in a keyword like “JOIN” or “HELLO” to subscribe.

Here’s an example of a text-to-join SMS campaign from Footlocker. They encourage customers to text the word KIDS to their shortcode for exclusive offers.

A text-to-join campaign from Footlocker to grow their SMS list
A text-to-join campaign from Footlocker.

Capture leads from your website

Encourage website visitors to join your SMS list. There are many ways you can turn these visitors into subscribers. Here are a few to note:

  • Add a popup form
  • Include a banner alert
  • Embed an opt-in to the footer
  • Create a landing page
  • Add it to a contact form
  • Ask via a website chatbot

Here are two examples of pop-up SMS subscription form fills. 

Party City’s SMS subscription pop-up.
Party City’s SMS opt-in form fill.

A pop-up SMS subscription form from Lane Bryant.
A pop-up SMS subscription form from Lane Bryant.

Another way to capture website leads is to add an opt-in form to your website footer. Men’s Warehouse does just that.

An SMS subscription form from Men’s Warehouse.
An example of a footer SMS subscription form from Men's Warehouse.

Another way to capture visitors before they leave your website is to have a chatbot ask if they’re interested in signing up.

Convert your email subscribers

See if any of your email marketing subscribers are interested in receiving text promotions. Simply email your most engaged subscribers to encourage them to sign-up for texts. Ensure the language you use in your email highlights the benefits customers will receive by subscribing to SMS.

For example:

🚫 Join our SMS marketing list. Reply to subscribe!

✅ Join our SMS marketing list today! You’ll be the first to know about product drops and exclusive offers. Reply to subscribe and get 20% off.

Leverage existing signup forms and checkout

Encourage more people to subscribe by leveraging existing signup forms or your online checkout flow. Wherever customers can sign up for company updates, ask if they want to get text message offers too.

See the following example from Domino’s, which allows customers to sign up for email and text offers on the same page.

Example of Domino leveraging existing signup flow to grow SMS list
Domino's email and text sign-up page.

Moreover, many businesses collect SMS subscribers during online checkout. See the language you could add to your checkout.

Requesting SMS subscriptions at online checkout.
Adding SMS subscription option to online checkout.

Collect phone numbers offline

If you have physical locations, get SMS subscribers by asking in person. Here are a few ways to collect numbers offline:

  • Ask customers at checkout if they’re interested
  • Place printed-out ads promoting your mobile texting club around the store
  • Have customers fill out a paper form

Give opt-in incentives

Offering a reward in exchange for subscribing can help you grow your opt-in list. Research shows that marketing campaigns with incentives get six times as many subscribers as non-incentivized ones. Additionally, 60 percent of people opt-in to SMS marketing to receive discounts.

Here are some incentives you could offer:

  • Dollar-off discounts 
  • Percentage-off discounts
  • Limited-time offers
  • Free gifts
  • Free shipping
  • Rewards points
  • Access to exclusive content
  • Raffle entry

Here’s an example of a discount incentive from Payless Shoes:

An example of Payless offering anSMS subscription incentive.
Payless incentivizes customers to opt into SMS.

Here’s another example of a text subscription incentive from Express.

An example of Express incentivizing customers to sign up for SMS.
Express incentivizes customers to sign up for email or text.

Create a referral program

Ask your SMS subscribers to refer friends or family to join your subscription list. The reality is referrals improve the credibility of your SMS program. That’s because people trust recommendations from people they know.

Here’s an example of a text you could send current SMS subscribers to solicit referrals.

A text example asking for SMS subscription referrals.
A text you could send to ask for SMS subscription referrals.

Run special ads

Just like you’d advertise a product or service, consider running ads to encourage text subscriptions. Here are a few ad ideas to consider:

  • Print
  • TV
  • Email
  • Social media
  • Podcast
  • Banners or popups
  • Display

Here’s an example of a print ad you could run in a magazine or place near your register at a physical location.

Using an ad to grow an SMS list
An example of an advertisement to grow your SMS list.

Partner with influencers and other brands

One strategy that is used heavily by marketers to sell products is leveraging influencers. Consider this same strategy to boost SMS subscriptions. For example, have an influencer post about joining your company’s SMS subscription list.

See the following example of an influencer post encouraging followers to join a text marketing program. It resulted in 1,700 new SMS subscriptions in only 24 hours. 

An example of leveraging an influencer to promote SMS subscriptions.
An influencer encouraging followers to join a text list.

Use the right SMS software

The best SMS platforms will make collecting, managing, and storing SMS opt-ins easier for you. Textline’s opt-in process is one of the best on the market. In fact, Textline earned a patent for it. 

Grow your SMS list with ease and without worry using Textline. Sign up today for a free two-week trial. 

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