Many marketers agree that defining and building a target audience is the first (and most crucial) step in achieving marketing campaign success. And to score conversions, that audience must be highly relevant and interested in your offering.

One way to curate a database of warm leads – people who are already interested in your product or service – is to allow signups to an SMS list. By law, SMS marketing requires explicit opt-ins, so you can pretty much guarantee everyone who subscribes will be genuinely keen to receive your content. Hence, they'll be likely to convert.

Read on to discover how an SMS marketing list can boost your marketing efforts, plus ten ways to grow one organically.

What is an SMS mailing list?

An SMS list is simply a list of people (customers or leads) who have opted in to receive text messages from your business. Most often, this is for marketing purposes, but it can also be for receiving conversational or transactional messages.

Using a professional SMS API and platform, you can easily manage different text lists, add and remove contacts when needed, and segment groups for better targeting. An SMS provider enables you to send one-way bulk text messages to large groups of subscribers – this is a common practice for promotional campaigns such as flash sales or new product launches.

Why is it crucial to grow your SMS list organically?

You might think that getting individual opt-ins sounds time-consuming and wonder, "How do I get an SMS list? Can't I just buy one?"

Indeed, many businesses do buy lists of mobile numbers legitimately from marketing agencies, telecom providers and other third parties. But often, these contact lists aren't very targeted, even if the data relates to the general profile of your target audience. For example, let's say you want to contact retail decision-makers about a new point-of-sale (POS) system your business is launching. Those decision-makers on the list you've bought may have nothing to do with POS – and even if they do, who's to say they'd be interested in getting a new system?

Blanket texting paid-for SMS lists is also unethical, as the people you're contacting may not remember giving their data to an agency. And in some cases, these lists may be illegal if users haven't actually given consent for their data being shared with you as a third party. In this case, your campaigns would be classed as 'cold texting', which is illegal in most parts of the world due to local and global texting laws.

That said, it's imperative to grow your SMS marketing list organically. The best way is to ask customers or prospects for their consent directly. This practice helps to promote brand loyalty and build trust – and you’ll also be confident subscribers want to receive your texts.

Common types of SMS marketing messages

Once you've started building your text lists, you can send a range of SMS marketing campaigns to boost business growth and increase engagement. We've touched on a couple of ways text message marketing can be used already – for notifying customers and leads about flash sales and product launches. Here are some other examples:

  • Loyalty messages – if you have a list of VIP customers, you can send targeted texts with loyalty codes and discounts aimed at rewarding this important group.

  • Gathering feedback – texts are brilliant for conducting quick polls to check how customers perceive your brand (you'll need two-way messaging for this). SMS messaging can also be used to remind customers to leave a review.

  • Prize draws and competitions – text-to-win contests help ramp up engagement and get your audience buzzing about the chance to win a prize.

  • Driving repeat business – an SMS message can nudge inactive customers to check out what's new with your business, especially if you give them an added incentive to purchase again.

Businesspeople discussing marketing strategy and growth

How to grow your SMS marketing list

Your SMS list is one of the most valuable business growth tools you can have in your arsenal. So let's look at some ways to attract new subscribers organically. The following methods and practices are proven to work – and you can get started implementing them right away once you're set up with an SMS provider:

1. Advertise on multiple channels

Ask people to opt-in to your SMS marketing program everywhere you think will maximise your brand's visibility. Consider social media, email campaigns, printed adverts, online banner ads and face-to-face events. Why not create some flyers or add the information to your business cards? If you have a big marketing budget and already do TV commercials or radio advertising, you could request opt-ins on these channels too.

2. Don't forget your own website

Your website is another marketing channel to utilise. Place calls-to-action (CTAs) in key spots such as the header section and sticky sidebar areas. Include an SMS signup link within every blog post too.

3. Offer something in exchange

If you have an interesting resource visitors can download from your website, such as an eBook, white paper, or how-to guide, offer that in exchange for submitting their phone number.

4. Encourage opt-ins via your support channels

You can also ask people to opt-in to SMS marketing when they need to reach out for support. It makes sense to do this if you offer text chat support where people can have a real-time conversation with an agent (or your SMS chatbot if you have one).

Alternatively, ask people to submit their mobile numbers so you can resolve their query over the phone, or get them to text a keyword on your helpline number so you can respond. Note that making contact by text for support purposes isn't explicit consent for SMS marketing – you'll need to ask for that separately (but this method gets your foot in the door).

5. Utilise SMS verifications

Capture SMS signups at the point of user authentication. For example, suppose a user needs to request a verification code to complete account login by clicking a button on your website. In that case, you could also use this area to display a message (with a checkbox) about joining your SMS newsletter.

6. Use online forms and surveys

Add an SMS signup checkbox next to your online contact form to capture visitors making a general enquiry. Or use post-sales feedback surveys to request opt-ins.

7. Offer text-to-win contests

Text-to-win contests can quickly scale up your subscriber list, especially if the prize is lucrative. Advertise your content on social media, your website or posters around your premises.

8. Text a keyword

A straightforward way of getting subscribers is to ask people to text a keyword to sign up for your marketing list. Again, you can advertise this on your existing channels with a message such as:

Be among the first to know about our flash sales! Join our SMS marketing list by texting the word 'OFFERS' to [12345].

It's best to obtain an easy-to-remember shortcode or branded sender ID if you want people to subscribe to your list this way. (Random long numbers are tricky to remember.)

9. Offer exclusive rewards to SMS subscribers

Make subscribing to your SMS list appealing by offering something people can't get from your other marketing channels. For example, you could use SMS for your loyalty programme, where subscribers regularly receive freebies and rewards. Why not contact your email subscribers and ask them to also sign up to SMS for special rewards?

10. Utilise languages

Offer multilingual SMS marketing to reach more people via their preferred languages. (Some SMS providers can convert your text messages into different languages).

Important! No matter which methods you use to attract SMS subscribers, always make sure you display a statement about the kind of marketing texts you'll be sending and their frequency. Also, mention that you won't text at odd hours and remind people they can opt out whenever they want.

Person reading an SMS on mobile phone

Build your text list and start sending SMS messages

An SMS marketing list is a powerful tool. Because you need explicit opt-ins from subscribers, you already know that this audience is interested in your products or service.

Grow your SMS subscriber list organically for peace of mind that your campaigns will be legal (and benefit from increased customer loyalty and trust). There are so many legitimate ways to start gathering subscribers, as we've outlined in this article.

The first step to getting SMS subscribers and sending campaigns is to join an SMS marketing platform where you can create a list from scratch or import existing contacts. Messente offers everything you need to manage your text lists, segment your audience, create marketing text messages and much more. Get started for free.