Have you considered using SMS marketing to increase your store sales? The good news is that it’s a powerful yet untapped channel for ecommerce stores.
The only issue? You have to collect phone numbers from scratch, much like if you were to build your email list all over again.
If you are wondering how you can actually collect phone numbers for your SMS marketing campaigns, you have come to the right place.
In the next 10 minutes, you’ll see the five steps to start building your SMS marketing list. Let’s get started.
Step #1: Define your goal and campaign type
Before you begin creating an SMS list-building campaign, you need to define exactly what type of list you want to build and what you want to use it for.
SMS marketing shares many similarities to email marketing, including the goals you can fulfill with them. Whatever goal you can accomplish with one channel, you can accomplish with the other. That includes:
- Increasing sales volume
- Increasing the average order value
- Increasing purchase frequency
- Fostering customer loyalty
- Improving the shopping experience
- Providing post-purchase notifications
- Researching your customers
- Providing customer support
With a clear goal in mind, you can define the right type of SMS campaign that’s best intended to support it. The most common types of SMS campaigns are:
- Seasonal campaign promotions
- Discounts and coupons promotions
- New lines or products launches
- Transactional campaigns, such as shipping updates
- Post-purchase campaigns, such as an upsell
- Customer feedback surveys
Depending on the type of campaigns you’re planning to run, you can decide how exactly you should collect phone numbers. For instance, if you intend to use texts solely for post-purchase campaigns, it makes sense to ask customers for a phone number during or after checkout.
If you intend to promote discounts and new products via SMS marketing, you should invite people to join your list even before they become customers.
The latter approach is becoming more common, and it’s often paired with email list building. For example, Mejuri, an everyday jewelry brand, offers a discount to their first-time visitors in exchange for signing up for their email list and phone list:
Once their visitors enter their email address, they are asked to enter their phone number to receive the discount:
Finally, they’re asked to check their phones to claim the discount.
If you are still deciding what goal to start with, just pick one that best fits your email marketing goals.
For example, if you launch discounts weekly, you could use an SMS campaign to reach even more people.
Alternatively, you can use SMS campaigns to improve a low-performing email campaign. So if your loyalty campaigns rarely bring any sales, you can test sending the discounts through a text message instead.
Step #2: Define your offer
Now that you know what you will use your SMS campaign for, it’s time you work on your offer.
Every SMS campaign requires an offer that will entice your visitors to hand over their phone numbers.
The principle of reciprocity moves this process, so the more appealing your offer is, the better.
If this sounds an awful lot like email campaigns, that’s because it is the same idea. But unlike email, collecting phone numbers from people can be challenging. Why? Because it’s less common.
How many text messages have you got from brands that want to share a new campaign or discount? Most likely, a few. If any.
The good news is that it can be easy to stand out. But it can also feel weird and invasive for some people.
To overcome some of the inertia, a common approach brands use to collect phone numbers is to position the offer as “exclusive perks.” This works like a VIP-like experience, where your list gets unique coupons and shopping opportunities – in addition to the first-purchase discount.
This is how Elegant Baby, a luxury baby brand does it on their website:
What makes perks so powerful is that they entice the visitor not just with something interesting today, but in the future as well (because they’ll continue to receive discounts).
Other simpler ideas you can use besides exclusive perks are:
- Contests and giveaways (more on these later)
- Free samples
- Free shipping discounts
- Right of the first look at the new products
Step #3: Define an opt-in method
When it comes to promoting your offer to start collecting phone numbers, you have two opt-in methods:
- Opt-in forms
- “Text-to-enter” promotions
Pop-up opt-in forms
Opt-in forms are a popular method for email list building you already know. They can be static or dynamic. The latter include floating bars, slide-ins, and popups.
The benefit of using opt-in forms is that they tend to work as well as they do for building an email list. All you have to do is create a popup or a slide-in using a tool like Getsitecontrol, write the copy, and set up the targeting.
Here is what your opt-in form may look like (and here is a guide to adding it to your website):
Using opt-in forms exclusively for collecting phone numbers can affect your email list-building efforts. Remember, your SMS campaigns should complement your email campaigns, not replace them. Therefore, you should prioritize gathering email addresses over phone numbers.
Option 1. Make entering the phone number optional
You can make entering phone numbers mandatory or optional, as The Sill does:
In the latter case, you will continue building your email list while slowly growing your phone list. The problem is that it can also end up giving you a small phone list.
Option 2. Make entering a phone number mandatory to receive a discount
If you make entering phone numbers mandatory, the subscriber will only claim the discount after adding their email and phone information. It’s a more aggressive approach, but it’s also more effective at growing your phone list.
Snipes, an online retail brand, uses this approach on their website:
On the second page, Snipes asks you to enter a phone number. However, if you don’t, the brand will email you a reminder to join their SMS list and make use of the discount:
The other opt-in method is to run a “text-to-enter” promotion. In this case, visitors must text a specific message (a “keyword”) to a phone number (also known as a “short code”) to sign up. Although it may seem like work, this process makes opting in faster and easier for subscribers.
To use this method, you first have to create a shortcode. A shortcode is a five or six-digit number that people need to message to sign up:
Once you have your short code, you need to create a keyword. Keywords allow you to create different lists for your campaigns, much like you do with email marketing.
For example, you could create a keyword for first-time buyers (e.g., “NEW”), one for a seasonal campaign (e.g., “CHRISTMASTIME”), and one for your exclusive perks (e.g., “VIP”).
Your keywords should be short, memorable, and relevant to the campaign, just as you have seen in the previous examples.
Caption: Although the company from the example above didn’t use a short code as recommended, their “VIP” keyword matches their campaign perfectly.
In some cases, as in the example below, you could use a single-letter keyword, such as “Y”.
Step #4: Promote your opt-in method
Whether you want to use opt-in forms, “text-to-enter” campaigns, or both, you must promote your offer. There are four ways you can do so:
The easiest option is to promote your offer on your site. That could be using a static opt-in form like a banner or a dynamic widget like a popup or a floating bar.
Dynamic widgets are ideal as you can use them to target specific visitors based on their demographics or behavior. For example, you could show your exclusive offer to visitors who have already visited the site multiple times, added a product to cart, or made a purchase.
Thanks to the higher trust they’ll have, your popups will be more effective than static, in-site opt-in forms.
You can also promote your offer in your emails. All you have to do is add a small section where you promote your short code and keyword.
Since your subscribers already know your brand, your SMS campaign’s effectiveness will likely be higher than you’d expect.
Here is how the Posh Puppy Boutique invites new email subscribers to opt-in for text promos as well:
Social media is a great channel to promote a “Text-to-enter” campaign. If your followers are engaged and interested in your offer, you can collect many phone numbers for SMS marketing campaigns.
Run a contest
Contests are ideal for SMS campaigns as they make the opt-in process more interesting for people. The crucial point is to offer a valuable prize, like a free product or a gift card.
Step #5: Keep your campaign compliant with your local laws
Nowadays, SMS campaigns are highly regulated in most countries. Therefore, you must comply with your country’s regulations before collecting phone numbers.
Each country has its own regulations, more than we can cover in this article. Four of the most significant jurisdictions with their respective laws are:
- The US’s Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and CAN-SPAM Act
- Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL)
- The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
- The United Kingdom’s Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) and the Data Protection Act
Similar laws exist in Australia, India, and the Asia-Pacific region. When in doubt, consult a legal counsel to ensure your SMS marketing strategies comply with your local laws.
Whatever the country you live in, most laws regulate the same aspects of your SMS marketing communications, such as:
- Your capacity to message customers who actively provided their mobile numbers
These laws also force you to:
- Explain the content and frequency of communication you plan to use
- Explain the reason why you want to collect their phone numbers
- Make it easy to unsubscribe from your list
Also, send a confirmation message to each new subscriber reinstating what type of content you’ll be sending them and how they can opt out of your list. Princess Polly, a clothing brand from Yotpo’s case study, does exactly that by reminding subscribers how to stop receiving promo texts from the company:
Takeaways about collecting phone numbers for your SMS campaigns
Collecting phone numbers for your SMS campaigns will be an unusual challenge for most marketers. However, the fact few companies take SMS marketing seriously is also an amazing opportunity for those willing to take risks.
Start by thinking about phone numbers as email addresses. The same principle of reciprocity applies for both data points — i.e., give something away that’s both free and useful, and you will make everything easier.
You can start collecting phone numbers simply by using your existing list-building campaigns. Otherwise, create brand-new opt-in forms to capture phone numbers exclusively.
Then, take it further by creating a “Text-to-enter” promotion. Choose one of the services mentioned above to create a shortcode and keyword you can advertise on your site, email list, and social media.
Finally, don’t forget about your country’s compliance laws. It may seem overkill, but the penalties are far too great to ignore.
Once you take all of this into consideration, you should be on your way to creating a list of engaged buyers you can use to boost your store’s profits.
Ivan Kreimer is a freelance content writer for hire who creates educational content for SaaS businesses like Leadfeeder and Campaign Monitor. In his pastime, he likes to help people become freelance writers. Besides writing for smart people who read sites like Getsitecontrol, Ivan has also written in sites like Entrepreneur, MarketingProfs, TheNextWeb, and many other influential websites.
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You're reading Getsitecontrol blog where marketing experts share proven tactics to grow your online business. This article is a part of Lead generation section.