Looking to grow your contact list and reach more people via SMS? Here are 20+ ways to grow your contact list with the all-important opt-in numbers.

But first – do you need the opt-in?

Business texting services offer two main forms of messaging: transactional or promotional/marketing messages. Understanding the difference is important when it comes to opt-in consent.

Handset showing an example of transactional and marketing SMS

Transactional texts are informative and action-driven and usually occur in response to customer-driven activity such as a purchase or a booking. They are also often automated or triggered texts, but not all triggered messages are necessarily transactional.

On the other hand, promotional texts constitutes messaging undertaken on the part of the business to drive sales and conversions. It includes sending SMS discounts, event invites, special offers, etc. Promotional texts can be sent as a bulk SMS blast or throughout the customer lifecycle depending on the subscriber behaviour (eg. abandoned cart messages).

To succeed in terms of text marketing, you first need a database of quality subscribers. This form of marketing is strictly opt-in, and you must never send unsolicited content aka spam.

Growing a Strong Database of SMS Contacts

There are a few considerations when building your text message contact database, to maximize value for your business.

1. Understand Your Audience (and Their Relationship with Your Product)

You could have a lengthy list of contact numbers, but if they are not quality leads for your brand and focused on your target audience, your list will be of low value to you.

For example: knowing he’s a hardcore West Coast Eagles fan, Matt buys Harry a West Coast jersey from the sports store as a birthday gift. But Matt would rather watch grass grow than watch football; he will be unlikely to engage with offers from the store and ultimately unsubscribe from their contact list. Growing your list with people like Matt will not be beneficial to your text marketing efforts.

That’s why it’s important to know your audience:

  • Who is your customer?
  • What are their interests, needs, and problems for which you can provide a solution?
  • Where do they live?
  • How do they communicate?
  • Do they prefer to shop online or in-store?

2. Text Marketing and Spam Laws

Any reputable text message gateway will do everything possible to ensure that users are not sending spam. In saying this, the onus is on the sender to comply with all relevant legislation relating to text message content.

For example, many countries have laws whereby businesses may only send text marketing content to subscribers who have actively opted in by providing their mobile number. You must also make it easy and simple to opt-out – for example, by replying STOP. If a subscriber does withdraw their consent in this way, you must immediately heed their wishes.

3. Timing is Everything

Cartoon man sits on a clock

Retain subscribers by consistently sending up to (but no more than) two SMS messages weekly during peak seasons (e.g., Christmas) and no more than once per week at most during other periods. Send only high-value, targeted content. It should ultimately be about what is great for your audience.

And ensure when sending that you are mindful of time zones – no one likes getting a text message in the middle of the night!

4. Privacy is Critical

Clearly guarantee this for your subscribers and NEVER sell or otherwise pass on subscriber details to third parties. And never, EVER spam your subscribers or buy contact lists.

22 Simple Ways to Collect Customer Numbers

1. Text-In Competitions

Every business and brand can benefit by running a contest. Text-in competitions are among the easiest ways to collect mobile numbers and ongoing marketing consent. Have customers text a dedicated mobile number to enter. Offer irresistible incentives and tangible prizes.

2. Text Message Polls and Surveys

Example of surveys sent via text message

Most people love to give feedback and feel heard. Ask a question and give people the opportunity to have their say by texting their response to a dedicated mobile number or shortcode.

3. Refer a Friend

Offer incentives when friends sign up. This encourages your existing customers and subscribers to act as high-value, “free” lead generators on your behalf. Not only do you capture your customer’s contact details, but also their friends too!

4. Keyword Campaigns

Many brick-and-mortar stores are using keyword campaigns to entice new signups for SMS marketing content. Ask your customers to text a specific, memorable word or phrase to a prescribed number to enter a contest, discover more, or access a discount. Share prompts to do so via your website, email newsletter, and signage in-store.

5. Offer a Reward

Signs and calls to action on your home page saying “Text [YOUR SIGNUP KEYWORD] to [YOUR DEDICATED NUMBER OR SHORTCODE] and save [Discount]” are a great incentive to capture the interest of shoppers and online browsers.

Then enable a code for a coupon to be sent to their phone automatically for redemption.

6. Social Media

Use Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok, or YouTube, depending on your audience, to compel your audience to sign up for your contact list and receive SMS content.

7. Mobile Signup Widgets

Have website visitors click on a widget to open an app on their phone with your keyword and mobile number pre-filled – all they need to do is click SEND.

8. Leverage Existing Email Marketing

Boost customer engagement and send email content such as newsletters, event invitations, product updates, and more. Invite email subscribers to share their mobile numbers to access even more benefits.

9. In-store

In-store campaigns can be very effective. Have sales staff collect email addresses and mobile numbers during the checkout process. You can use a compelling offer to really drive signups, for example, a discount on their current purchase or a gift for signing up.

Many retailers offer to send paperless receipts and warranties via text message, which is also another incentive for customers to drop their number (but make sure that you let them know if you intend to send marketing messages also!).

10. Via Your Website

Your website is a powerful asset and you can use it to drive your contact list growth. Incorporate a contact form on your website rather than just providing email and phone number contact details. This encourages visitors to drop their mobile number (and email address).

Pro tip: choose a contact form builder that can be integrated with SMS. This allows you to set up an automated text response to thank your subscribers for opting in. This can be done as a custom build by your web developer or easy code-free ways to integrate yourself.

Website contact form submission triggering a text message

11. Events

Broadcast your opt-in keyword and dedicated number at industry events, conferences, trade shows, concerts, festivals, openings, product launches, etc. Wherever you go that your customers are, let them know that they can get offers and updates via text message.

12. Advertising

If your business invests in advertising, use this to get your signup keyword and dedicated number in front of more people. You can advertise your opt-in keyword as much as possible across as many channels as possible. This includes anything from major TV advertising and out-of-home ads to your in-store collateral, your website, your social platforms, your email signature, and print advertising.

13. Rewards Programs

Entice customers to join your rewards program and collect their mobile numbers as they complete the signup process.

14. VIP Clubs

Similar to a rewards program, offer your high-value customers access to a VIP club based on the amount they spend with you. Everyone likes to feel special and to receive something others are not entitled to! Create a VIP program and collect mobile numbers at signup.

15. Via Your App

If you offer a mobile app, why not leverage it to grow your phone number database? App updates are a great opportunity to collect numbers. If you use an app, request that your customers update their contact information at sign-in.

16. Via Customer Care

Customer service voice calls are a great time to ask for mobile contact details – enabling not only better customer service for a more favourable customer experience but also ongoing benefits through information, discounts, etc.

You can also offer a text callback service, where customers send a text message request for help and the next available representative will call them when it’s their turn. Saves customers the frustration of waiting on a busy line!

17. Via Chatbots

Whenever customers use your chatbots, request their mobile number, email, and name for ongoing customer service (but make sure you are clear on what purpose you are collecting their details for!).

18. Via Popups

Use popups to drive engagement and collect numbers for your text message marketing. Be careful when using pervasive popups though – make it clear where the popup can be closed or your customers may get irritated and leave.

19. Free Trial or Demo

If you offer a product or service that requires more careful consideration (rather than a fast-moving consumer good), offer a free trial or allow leads to schedule a free demo and ask for their contact number in the process.

20. Offer Great Content

If you have valuable content online, like whitepapers, e-books, or offer webinars, you can leverage these assets to encourage prospective customers to drop their contact number and/or email. You can set it up on your website as gated content and allow access when the form has been filled in. Or better yet, send a link to the contact via text.

21. Onboarding Process

Request mobile numbers as an essential piece of information for new account setups, accompanying new orders, etc – and ensure that this piece of information must be included to complete the sign-up/purchase process.

22. Ongoing Focus

Maintain your contact list-building efforts – a one-off campaign doesn’t quite cut it. Remember that your contact list is continually evolving and can go stale. People can unsubscribe, move and change contact details, or simply no longer need your product.

For example, Ash liked to go to the pub for after-work drinks on the occasional Friday. Now that she cannot make it to Friday drinks, she is no longer interested in hearing about 2-for-1 specials on Fruit Tingle cocktails. Thus she unsubscribes to her local pub’s contact list.

Re-engagement campaigns can also help to identify possible other opportunities to solve problems for your customer. Like in Ash’s case above, she might now be interested in a Sunday pub lunch kids eat free promotion – but without having asked her about communication preferences, that opportunity is lost when she unsubscribes.

Make ClickSend Your Digital Communications Partner

ClickSend is your top option for SMS marketing and MMS marketing worldwide. Our online texting gateway and web-based multimedia messaging are just a few of the solutions we offer for communicating with your contractors, staff, clients, and customers. We are proud to work closely with many hundreds of clients worldwide and we are very proud to be a global leader in our industry.

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