What would you do to have a never-ending pipeline of your best leads on speed dial?
Or better yet, just a quick text message away.
Turns out, customers want that, too.
In 2020, $10.8 Billion in sales converted from SMS over the holiday season. Want a piece of that holiday pie?
Customers overwhelmingly would rather communicate with brands via text than anywhere else.
Text message marketing and SMS updates from businesses, survey data shows, is more convenient, unobtrusive, more personal and one less thing to remember.
Do you want to establish that level of trust and visibility between your leads and your brand?
Today I’m going to show you how to get more SMS subscribers signed up for updates from your business.
From the strategic to the actionable, use these methods to grow your SMS opt-in list from zero to 60,000 — fast.
16 Ways to Get More SMS Subscribers
How can you get more SMS subscribers?
Here are 16 ways to grow a list of text marketing contacts:
- Give SMS subscribers VIP access
- Collect phone numbers in Instagram automatically
- Opt-in SMS subscribers with a magic keyword
- Run a contest or giveaway via SMS
- Promote SMS opt-in across social media
- Use a website pop-up to invite SMS opt-ins
- Convert email subscribers to SMS subscribers
- Invite Facebook Page fans to get SMS updates
- Run Facebook Ads powered by a chatbot with automatic SMS opt-in
- Promote SMS opt-in on signs, posters, business cards and more
- Convert web chat leads to SMS subscribers
- Keep SMS messages short and clear
- Segment SMS audiences by interest
- Jump into convos live when a personal touch is needed
- Track SMS campaign performance metrics and optimize
- Choose the right SMS marketing platform
Let’s dig into each SMS-subscriber-growth strategy and the tools a business can use to execute them.
1. Give SMS subscribers VIP access
Successful brands are authentic, transparent, and — I have to say it — provide a ton of value to customers.
This is certainly true in SMS marketing.
In order for receiving your SMS updates to make sense to your customers, there has to be awesome in it for them.
Some ways to offer red carpet value that translate to how to get more SMS subscribers include:
- Giving them VIP treatment
- Sending early access to sales
- Sending rewards and special offers
- Giving exclusive behind-the-scenes looks
- Being instantly available to them
Remember, SMS subscribers are giving you one of their most intimate levels of access: their personal mobile phone number.
So you should expect to give them the same.
Be clear about the exclusive value of SMS updates and you will attract high-quality contacts to your text message marketing contacts.
You’ll find that your SMS subscribers are your most engaged leads and customers, people who want to have a personal connection with your business.
2. Collect phone numbers in Instagram automatically
Instagram’s massive audience of 1 billion monthly active users — 90% of which follow a business on Instagram! — are highly engaged with the posts, Stories, Reels, Live stream and content formats that Instagram offers.
🚩 But you don’t own your audience data on Instagram.
🚩 Your businesses Instagram content relies on the whims of the Instagram algo to ever see audience eyeballs.
🚩 And you can’t reach out to Instagram fans on-demand.
Thankfully you can convert your Instagram fans into SMS subscribers with Customers.ai.
Step 1: Create an Instagram chat starter, like a comment guard or DM autoresponder.
Step 2: Write the autoresponder for the chat starter. Don’t forget to ask your audience to subscribe to your text message updates using the SMS opt-in widget.
See how the Instagram DM convo will go in the preview:
3. Opt-in SMS subscribers with a magic keyword
The normal call to action is to sign up for email updates in exchange for a discount code for your first order, or a free consultation, or a free download.
But the norm has gotten old.
SMS marketing has a better opt-in mechanism called the keyword opt-in.
“Text ‘MAGIC’ to (YOUR PHONE NUMBER HERE) to join the VIP list for exclusive first access.”
I know. The chills.
To create a magic SMS keyword for your own business, use the keyword opt-in tool, one of your new favorite SMS marketing tools.
4. Run a contest or giveaway via SMS
Running a short-term contest is one of those growth hacking strategies you find on everyone’s list of how to get more SMS subscribers.
They work! But they can’t run forever.
Consider a contest or giveaway something you can do every year to every quarter, attached to holidays, anniversaries and special occasions.
In the case of how to get more SMS subscribers, folks enter by texting the magic keyword to your SMS phone number or short code.
Keep in mind these tips for contests and giveaways that generate the most leads:
- Create urgency
- Use a partner to cross-promote
- Have a low bar to entry
- Don’t forget a really sweet prize
Build in urgency, leverage partner networks and make the process for entry very simple to generate a spike in the size of your SMS subscriber list.
5. Promote your SMS updates across social media
Cross-promotion is the name of the game when launching new channels and promoting multiple touch points with customers.
Use your social media content including video intros, blog posts, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram marketing and more to promote the SMS subscriber updates.
6. Use a pop-up on your website to invite SMS opt-ins
I’ll go out on a limb here and guess that you have pop-ups on your website.
Consider updating your pop-up offer with an SMS opt-in invitation.
When properly timed and with a valuable incentive offer, website pop-ups can go to work for you, generating new SMS subscribers.
7. Convert your email list to SMS subscribers
SMS messages average +90% open rates and +30% response rates.
How’s that compare to your email marketing engagement rates?
Send an email marketing campaign promoting the advantages of VIP SMS updates. Point email subscribers to magic keyword opt-in.
You can also add SMS opt-in as a CTA in email signatures across the company.
8. Invite Facebook Page fans to get SMS updates
Cross-promoting any initiative or offer across social media channels is a no brainer.
But there’s something extra special about a Facebook Page that allows a business to generate leads or SMS subscribers.
That’s a free Facebook Messenger bot.
Facebook Messenger bots can be connected to a Facebook Page via the Send Message call to action button.
When you connect the call-to-action Send Message button from a Facebook Page to a Messenger bot, you can add an SMS opt-in widget that creates a new SMS contact from people chatting with your Facebook page.
Learn all about how to get more leads from Facebook for free on Facebook with the Page Welcomer in this video tutorial.
Learn about how to build a Facebook Messenger bot while you’re at it.
9. Run Facebook Ads to a bot with automatic SMS opt-in
Facebook’s ecosystem is rich with opportunity for reaching a target audience.
The Facebook Ads system, in particular, connects to users across many of today’s most popular online platforms including Instagram, Facebook, Marketplace, and Facebook Audience Network for mobile advertising,
Marketers find the cost per lead acquisition (CPA) on the Facebook network to be among the lowest of all ad networks.
But there’s a way to ensure even lower CPA with Facebook Ads using the Facebook click-to-Messenger ad.
Facebook click-to-Messenger ads send ad audiences to the Facebook Messenger chat app rather than a website landing page.
What you can do with Facebook Messenger as the ad landing page is set up a bot that has an interactive conversation with the ad audience.
And what’s really cool, is you can ask people to sign up for SMS updates in a very low friction way.
Facebook has a phone number on file for most of its users.
Because Facebook has that phone number on file, a Messenger bot can ask a lead for a phone number and automatically populate that phone number in a quick reply button.
This reduces the effort required to submit a phone number and sign up for SMS updates.
Just add a quick question with phone number opt-in widget to any Facebook bot conversation flow from a Facebook Ad.
10. Promote SMS opt-in on signs, posters, business cards and more
Location, location, location applies to marketing promotions.
Use all your prime real estate, from events to brick-and-mortar stores and offices to promote a campaign to get more SMS subscribers.
When it comes to generating SMS subscribers from a physical location or in-person meeting make sure to:
- Put the value of subscribing to SMS updates front-and-center
- Incentivize SMS opt-in with a prize, discount or rewards
- Use a magic keyword to make subscribing easy
- Be super clear about what the customer can expect in SMS updates, from types of messages to frequency
- Promise and deliver loads of value from subscribing to the text message VIP club
11. Convert web chat leads to SMS subscribers
Turn your website into a lead generation machine by turning web chat into an automated path to SMS subscription.
Web chat has been shown to increase average order value, increase conversions, build loyalty among customers.
When customers can get in touch with a business to receive real-time answers to their questions, the business can reduce bottlenecks to conversion.
This leads to higher customer satisfaction.
And web chat is a convenient way for your customers to get in touch with you.
Did you know that someone that chats on your website is 10X more likely to convert?
Web chat engagement is not something to overlook.
And you can generate SMS subscribers from web chat using a bot and an opt-in widget.
Here’s what that SMS opt-in widget looks like in web chat to a visitor on your site:
And here’s what that setup looks like when you’re creating the SMS opt-in web chat flow in a chat marketing platform like Customers.ai.
12. Keep SMS messages short and clear
Text message marketing messages are generally shorter than other messaging channels.
Consider the way you send text messages — usually only a line or 3 mobile phone widths per message.
Match the native preferences of the SMS message by keeping messages on the short side with a very clear call to action.
You may want to use an image to communicate, as well as a link to learn more or visit a more detailed offer page.
It’s also a must to be really clear to subscribers about what to expect.
Rules for SMS marketing in the U.S. requires:
- Providing a link to Terms and Conditions
- Setting expectations about how often the audience gets SMS updates
- Making opt-out easy
SMS performance increases with clear expectations of the types of messages the audience will receive.
This in turn will create fewer unsubscribers to your SMS marketing list, which in turn, grows your SMS subscribers faster.
13. Segment SMS audiences by interest
Executing any marketing growth strategy results in unsubscribes, there’s no avoiding it.
And unsubscribes are not a bad thing, themselves.
Unsubscribes ensure that people get the messages that matter to them and marketers reach leads and customers who are highly engaged.
But it’s also important for marketers to recognize that not everyone on a list is interested in the same thing. Not everyone is at the same point of their customer journey.
It’s important to segment marketing audiences by meaningful criteria so that messaging can be very relevant and very valuable. And, as a result, very effective.
Learn how to segment an audience for SMS campaigns in our chat marketing video tutorial.
14. Jump into convos live when a personal touch is needed
I’m subscribed to SMS updates from an online jeweler who sends me updates on new product lines.
One day I received a message about some amethyst jewelry and that message called me an Aquarius.
Knowing full well that this SMS message was automated, I decided to reply to see what would happen.
What happened delighted me.
It turns out that I wasn’t talking into the void of a faceless SMS inbox.
The team at Aurate had live people jump in to respond to subscribers when a real human response was appropriate.
How did they do it?
With an SMS marketing feature called live operator takeover.
Does live operator takeover mean that someone has to be sitting in front of their computer all day long waiting for messages to come in that need a reply?
Thankfully, we have automated lead alerts to let us know when someone needs to talk.
Using chat marketing mobile app alerts or browser notifications or email alerts and a unified multi-channel chatbot inbox, a business can effectively manage all customer communications happening across messaging apps.
Customers who feel valued and listened to are infinitely more likely to stay subscribed.
15. Track SMS campaign performance metrics and optimize
Every activity in business requires analysis and optimization.
Reviewing performance metrics leads to a better understanding of what customers need and how well the business is servicing those needs.
SMS marketing that indicate performance include:
- SMS subscriber list growth
- Unsubscribe rates over time and by campaign
- Read rate and response rate
- Offer redemption rate
View SMS campaign metrics using chatbot analytics to have the data required to make actionable decisions and optimizations.
16. Choose the right SMS marketing platform
There are so many strategies and tools that an SMS marketer will rely on to make sure they deliver value to the customers trusting them to send updates to their text message app.
The growth-minded marketer will need an SMS platform that performs at the highest level when it comes to:
- Lead growth tools like magic keyword opt-ins and multi-channel opt-ins
- Visual conversation flow builders that require little time to set up or investment to understand
- A dedicated phone number to send and receive SMS messages
- A powerful SMS blaster to send automated messages
- Sophisticated audience segmentation tools
- Chat marketing analytics tools and visual reports that support testing and performance optimization
- A manageable inbox with advanced features for customer service teams
- Convenient mobile apps to see and respond to all conversations when on the go
- Flexible options for live chat takeover with smart notifications for follow-up
- Connections to other business applications to send and update contact databases, including integrations with CRMs, shopping cart systems and more
Customers.ai has developed a complete SMS marketing platform that supports businesses in lead generation, engagement, and customer support.
Take a look at all the tools in Customers.ai’s multi-channel chatbot platform by getting started with Customers.ai for free.
How to Get More SMS Subscribers: Important Next Steps
Frequently Asked Questions about How to Get More SMS Subscribers
Q: How can I encourage more people to subscribe to my SMS list?
A: There are several strategies you can implement to increase your SMS subscriber count:
- Promote your SMS list on various marketing channels, such as your website, social media, and email newsletters.
- Incentivize subscriptions by offering exclusive discounts, promotions, or valuable content to those who sign up.
- Use compelling call-to-actions that clearly communicate the benefits of subscribing to your SMS list.
- Run contests or giveaways that require participants to subscribe to your SMS list for entry.
- Partner with influencers or complementary brands to cross-promote your SMS list.
Q: How often should I send SMS messages to my subscribers?
A: Finding the right frequency for sending SMS messages is crucial to maintaining a positive user experience. It’s generally recommended to strike a balance between staying top-of-mind and avoiding message fatigue. Here are some guidelines:
- Start with a lower frequency, such as one to two messages per month, and gradually increase it based on your subscribers’ response and engagement.
- Segment your SMS list and tailor your messaging based on subscriber preferences and interests.
- Monitor your unsubscribe rate and adjust your frequency if it exceeds an acceptable threshold.
- Send timely and relevant messages, such as flash sales, limited-time offers, or important updates.
Q: What are some best practices for SMS marketing campaigns?
A: To maximize the effectiveness of your SMS marketing campaigns, consider the following best practices:
- Keep your messages concise, clear, and personalized to resonate with your subscribers.
- Include a strong call-to-action that prompts subscribers to take the desired action.
- Ensure your messages comply with legal requirements, such as obtaining proper consent and providing opt-out options.
- Test different strategies, such as varying your message content, timing, and incentives, to identify what works best for your audience.
- Analyze your campaign results and make data-driven optimizations to improve your future SMS marketing efforts.
Q: How can I create compelling SMS content to engage my subscribers?
A: Creating engaging SMS content requires careful consideration. Here are some tips to help you:
- Keep your messages short and to the point, focusing on delivering value or conveying important information.
- Use a conversational tone and personalize the messages whenever possible.
- Incorporate compelling visuals, such as emojis or images, to make your messages visually appealing.
- Create a sense of urgency by including time-limited offers or exclusive promotions.
- Segment your audience and tailor your content based on their preferences, demographics, or past behaviors.
Q: How can I reduce subscriber churn in my SMS marketing campaigns?
A: Subscriber churn refers to the rate at which subscribers opt out or stop engaging with your SMS messages. To reduce churn, consider the following strategies:
- Regularly provide valuable content or exclusive offers to keep subscribers interested and engaged.
- Implement a preference center where subscribers can customize the types of messages they receive.
- Monitor engagement metrics, such as open rates and click-through rates, and identify subscribers who show signs of disengagement.
- Segment your subscribers and send targeted messages based on their preferences and behaviors.
- Occasionally survey your subscribers to gather feedback and understand their needs better.
Q: Are there any legal considerations I should keep in mind for SMS marketing?
A: Yes, it’s crucial to comply with legal requirements when engaging in SMS marketing. Here are some key considerations:
- Obtain proper consent from subscribers before adding them to your SMS list.
- Provide clear and concise information about what subscribers can expect when they opt in to receive your messages.
- Include instructions on how to opt out of receiving SMS messages, and honor unsubscribe requests promptly.
- Keep records of consent and opt-in information for compliance purposes.
- Familiarize yourself with relevant laws and regulations governing SMS marketing in your jurisdiction, such as the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) in the United States.