Six Effortless Ways to Grow Your SMS Marketing List 

28 Jan
Six Effortless Ways to Grow Your SMS Marketing List 

You know all the benefits of SMS marketing—increased customer engagement, deliverability, and brand awareness. But actually growing your SMS marketing list can be tricky. 

If you're nodding your head, you're not alone. Increasing subscriber sign-ups is a major challenge. And yet, retailers increased their SMS marketing budget by 56%. 

Don’t worry. It's not doomsday just yet! We've compiled six ways to grow your SMS marketing list, using over eight examples from your fellow eCommerce brands.

Get ready to learn:

  • How to turn website traffic into a hefty SMS opt-in list
  • How to engage customers using incentives and SMS campaigns
  • How to integrate your email and SMS marketing into one seamless strategy

Let’s dive in! 

How to grow SMS marketing list

1. Stay updated with SMS opt-in policies 

Before launching your SMS program, make sure you're up to code and check the latest opt-in policies and GDPR (general data protection regulation) rules.

Three general SMS marketing policies include:

  • Asking for consent before sending text messages: Sending a text out of the blue is spammy. Jennison from Mad Engine agrees, "An unexpected SMS is a quick way to collect unsubscribes, and it may also be a [violation of federal law].”

Want a quick solution? Go for an SMS opt-in form or pop-up. 

Pura Vida leverages a two-step form to collect email and SMS information. 

An opt-in form asks users for consent before sending texts. Pura Vida leverages a two-step form to collect email and SMS information. We'll talk more about creating opt-in forms soon!

  • Sending a link to your full terms and conditions and privacy policy: You can add a shortened link to your opt-in form or text.
  • Allowing users to opt-out at any time: Include an "opt-out" link to every text you send.

This helpful resource summarizes compliant laws in the United States,  European Union, United Kingdom, and Canada. But we also suggest contacting your lawyer for the nitty-gritty details.

2. Add SMS opt-ins to your eCommerce site  

Chances are, you already have an email marketing strategy in place. Why not add an SMS opt-in alongside your email form?

An email and SMS opt-in form

With 90% of text messages getting read in three minutes, the pay off of collecting phone numbers is huge! 

Maybe you’re wondering, “If text messages are opened so fast, should I ditch email marketing altogether?” 

Absolutely not! Email and SMS marketing aren't enemies but allies. Both strategies bring something fresh to the customer journey.

Email, one on hand, deepens customer relationships with riveting newsletters and lead-nurturing email sequences

But SMS messages build trust using referral program updates, shipping updates, and customer support.

We'll talk more about integrating email with SMS marketing later. For now, let's continue chatting about opt-in forms.

Yamakazi weaves both email and SMS forms into one form. Think of this as a two-in-one deal for your marketing strategy—now you can send valuable content through two channels!  

Of course, your audience might stray away from multiple form fields. If that's the case, keep it simple with an SMS-only form.  


So which opt-in form is better?

There's no universal answer! It's up to your audience's preferences. You can conduct A/B testing throughout your website and see which form reels the most SMS subscribers.


3.  Incentivize customers with punchy text messages 

If you’ve ever received a spam text message, then you know why customers are hesitant to give out their phone numbers.

Here are where incentives come into play. 


Verve's SMS marketing program rewards users with a first look at new coffee flavors, exclusive content, and a 10% discount. 

Notice how Verve’s copy: 

  • Gets to the point 
  • Uses enticing language like exclusive, early-release, and behind-the-scenes. 

These are essential features of any incentive—grab your user’s attention before they get bored and exit out. 

On another note, you might wonder why incentives even work. 

It's simple: They make your SMS subscribers feel special. Words like "VIP status" or "Special discount" feel like you've joined an exclusive club and ensure that your information is in good hands.

And the best type of incentives? 

You guessed it… Discounts!

Mandi Moshay, former agency Director of retention, shares her two cents about discounts, “Offering a percentage or dollar off for SMS sign-up is a great way to increase opt-in rates. Free shipping is table stakes in eCommerce these days, and rarely moves the needle as a discount will.” 

If you offer a discount, Mandi advises you to “Consider margins and average order value for first-time purchasers to ensure you’re not taking a loss on new SMS acquisitions.” In other words, double-check that your discounts aren’t hurting revenue goals. 

4. Deliver customer service in real-time  

Live chat has dominated the customer support scene. But another contender is now climbing up the latter: Text message marketing. 

Just like live chat, SMS marketing can answer your customer's biggest questions at lightning speed. 

But nowadays, our hands are tied to our phones. So if cell phones are easily accessible, why not make customer service available via SMS? Texting sparks a genuine conversation between you and existing customers. 

Steve, the founder and CEO of MuteSix, also points out, "As inboxes and social media feeds become increasingly inundated with ads and branded content from department stores and big-box retailers, SMS is a more personalized method for companies to engage with their audience."

Just look at Equal Part's Text-a-Chef series.


Here's how it works. When new customers buy cookware, they can text Equal Parts' online chefs and ask for yummy recipes, meal-prep dishes, and advice about fixing a meal mishap. 

Text-a-chef brings Equal Part's cookware to life. You're not just investing in cookware but a personal team of chefs to help you navigate the waters of cooking.  Now there's no excuse to stop using their product!

So how can you kick your SMS customer experience into gear? The secret is to choose a campaign that makes your customers' lives easier.

  • Update your new buyers with shipping and delivery notifications
  • Refill your customer's subscriptions in two texts or less
  • Answer their questions as soon as they ask
  • Send educational content about your product

Dig into your customer data and brainstorm ideas to "wow" your SMS subscribers! 

Check out these 5 SMS Marketing Strategies for Flawless Customer Service to get some ideas!

5. Integrate your SMS with email marketing campaigns  

As we mentioned earlier, email and SMS marketing are friends, not enemies. In fact, your current email subscribers can drive more users to your SMS subscriber list!

Promoting your SMS marketing channel is as easy as attaching a photo to your newsletter.

An example of promoting SMS subscriber list via email marketing

At the end of each newsletter, Hydrant promotes its SMS list with a mini landing page. Notice how they tell potential subscribers what they get in return for signing up (Remember, this is one of the opt-in policies you must follow!).

You can also go the promotion route and attract new SMS subscribers with a discount, free sample, or early access to a new product. 

Encouraging email subscribers to sign up for SMS text messages with a discount

Promotions are a quick way to snag new subscribers... but they also encourage people to unsubscribe once they get their goodies. Avoid this issue and continue the value train with customer support and referral program updates (next section!)

Now for the real question: What type of promotion should you create?

As each subscriber is different, we suggest customizing your SMS campaigns by each segmented email list. Then, run a few experiments via Sendlane and evaluate if email subscribers respond and tune into your SMS opt-ins. Easy peasy!

6. Grow and retain SMS subscribers with a referral program   

Growing your SMS subscribers isn’t just about adding new subscribers, but keeping the current ones!

One way to retain subscribers is with a referral program. Invite your current SMS list to join by sending special promotions and deals.  

An SMS loyalty program

 Let's go over both of Thread Wallets' referral text messages, shall we?

The first example is a traditional "Sign-up" form—users learn what the referral program is about and how to sign up. The second referral text uses the "scarcity" tactic and sends a limited-time offer for double points.

So here's what both text messages have in common: They're specific and actionable. Your SMS subscribers need to know:

  • What your referral program is about - Summarize in three sentences or less. 
  • Why they should sign up - Add an incentive (VIP access, exclusive deals, etc.)
  • Where they can sign up - Add a shortened link at the end of your text. 

Answer these questions, and you're bound to increase your retention rate!

Now let's talk about growing your SMS subscribers using a "Refer-a-friend" program.


The toilet paper brand, “Who gives a crap," incentivizes subscribers to send a $10 off coupon to friends and family in exchange for $10 off themselves! As we prefer recommendations from family and friends, this tactic will likely convert more SMS subscribers and sales.

The best part is that subscribers don't need to do much on their end except sending a copy-and-paste text to their loved ones.

Are you interested in promoting your referral program to your SMS subscribers?

The key to growing and retaining subscribers with referrals is to offer a reward they can't say no to. Look into your data and find offers your target audience loves—free shipping, exclusive first access, and dollar-off deals are just a few examples!


Ready to increase your SMS subscriber list? 

We hope this list of tips to grow your SMS subscribers has inspired you to get your own list moving!

Something else to take away is that SMS marketing works best with other channels, like email marketing.

Using Sendlane, you can integrate SMS and email and personalize the customer experience while driving more revenue. Check out this article about Sendlane’s SMS/MMS Marketing for more information

Not to mention, we're launching our new and improved SMS marketing platform in just a couple of weeks! Now you can send text messages and emails from the same place. 

See for yourself and give Sendlane a test drive with a 60-day free trial!

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