Build an SMS marketing list that actually converts

Everyone thinks twice about handing over their personal phone number. Only with transparent communication and a simple sign up process can your brand overcome these objections.

Robi O'Cleirigh
Content Manager @ Blueprint

All brands want to grow their audience numbers. The logic isn’t rocket science - larger following = more conversions = more revenue. 

The challenge is actually executing on this basic equation. The average consumer sees 6,000 - 10,000 marketing messages a day. They have little reason to remember yours, let alone be motivated enough to opt-in to your marketing channels. 

When it comes to SMS the problem is particularly acute. Receiving a text directly to a personal phone feels much more invasive to the consumer than an easily ignored email in an inbox. As a result, buyers are often much more discerning when choosing to receive SMS updates from a brand.

This is not necessarily a negative for merchants. It means that those who do subscribe to your SMS list are likely to be among your most highly engaged customers. The more you can develop a relationship with these individuals, the easier it is to retain revenue long-term. 

To that end, here’s our guide to building a large, but above all high quality, SMS marketing list that increases your brand's top line.

Value, value, value 

SMS marketing has a bad rep. When the average consumer thinks of text messages for commercial use this is what comes to mind: 

Unsolicited, irrelevant, annoying promotion that at best disrupts their day and at worse is a scam. To drive quality sign ups you first have to tackle this negative stereotype. And you do that by bringing value. 

You should think of SMS as a means of solving your customers problems, rather than a tool to hit your own sales targets. That might mean offering the flexibility to manage a subscription via text, providing email-free customer support, or even sharing a short snippet which brightens their day. 

Amongst the best proponents of this are wellness drinks merchant Moment, who send their SMS subscribers a daily link to a meditation video. This delivers customers obvious value for free, in a way that directly aligns with their brand values. In doing so, Moment strengthens the sense of community and goodwill around their product whilst not directly selling. 

Source: SMS Marketing Examples 

Communicate transparently 

Having worked out what value you’re going to bring to your customer via SMS, it needs to be communicated to them in a way that encourages sign ups. The best way of doing this is via that old marketing chestnut - a landing page. 

These will be familiar to many brand owners, but what’s important here from an SMS perspective is transparency. People don’t sign up to what they don’t know, and they especially don’t stick their personal phone number into a mystery form fill without knowing what’s in it for them. 

At the point of opt-in, clearly communicate to the customer what they should expect from your SMS service, how many messages they will receive, and crucially from a TCPA (🇺🇸) & GDPR (🇪🇺 & 🇬🇧) perspective, how to opt-out. 

This clarity is something beverage brand Olipop deliver particularly well in their landing pages: 

Source: Olipop

Keep sign up simple

Once your customer understands the value of your SMS channel, you want opt-in to be as frictionless as possible. Under TCPA and GDPR , there are two main ways consumers can consent to receive texts from your brand - inbound messaging and form fill.

Inbound messaging is where prospective subscribers must text a designated keyword from their mobile phone, indicating their willingness to join a marketing list - and is the weaker of the two options. Putting the ball in the customer’s court adds unnecessarily complexity to the process and gives them a reason not to sign up. 

A very simple form fill, which demands as little information as possible from the customer is the way to go here, as demonstrated by skincare brand PeaceOut:

Source: PeaceOut

Rinse and repeat 

Once you’ve established a simple, value-packed and clearly communicated sign up form, don’t just leave it buried at the bottom of your website footer. 

Market your SMS service like you would any new initiative - across the multiple touch points at which customers interact with your brand. A tick box at checkout, a story on Instagram, a post on Twitter and a CTA in an email are all good ways to maximise the visibility of your new channel. 

Innovative coffee brand Taika go one better, and include their contact number as part of their packaging to prompt immediate engagement via SMS.  

Source: Taika 

Deliver long-term 

Building an SMS list is not just a short-term play. If you don’t consistently deliver ongoing value to customers in-channel, they can opt-out just as easily as they opted-in. 

To maintain the quality of your SMS service you must have clarity internally over what you need to resource it. Than means designating named personnel responsible for the day-to-day running of the channel, as well as having a content plan in place to keep those messages flowing. 

Check out how you can leverage SMS for your brand with this 3-min breakdown:

Header image courtesy of Not Pot

Interested in SMS? Do all this + way more:
1:1 Customer Messaging
Group Messaging Campaigns
SMS Automations
Smart Abandoned Carts
Personalized Upsells
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