Build an SMS Marketing Audience by Optimizing Your Existing Channels

Mary Kearl By Mary Kearl Sep 3, 2021

SMS, aka short message service, or text messages. They're probably one of the main ways you communicate with friends, family, and colleagues. And they're also a popular way for companies to keep customers engaged. Before your brand can begin messaging customers, however, you first have to build an SMS marketing audience. And here's how to get started.

How to Increase Your SMS Marketing List

Dating back to the early 2000s, a number of leading brands began to leverage SMS marketing campaigns to generate buzz and increase their audience. And it's no wonder why. Texting is a hugely popular mobile messaging channel, with six billion texts sent per day and 97% of Americans texting on a weekly basis. It's also extremely accessible, with any type of phone across the globe able to send and receive SMS. And text campaigns are effective, with SMS open rates as high as 98%.

If your company is ready to start using this channel, there are two simple steps to get started.

Step #1: Get permission to start messaging via SMS.

The United States and other countries mandate that companies collect opt-ins before deploying SMS campaigns. That means you'll need to get explicit permission from any individual you plan to send SMS campaigns to—including those who have already opted into receiving updates from you via other channels, such as email or push notifications. Which brings us right to the next step...

Step #2: Leverage your existing marketing channels.

While SMS may be a completely new channel to you, unless your company is a brand-new startup, you won't be starting from scratch.

Most likely you already have an engaged audience that will only be happy to receive relevant, thoughtful, and helpful SMS campaigns from you, if it's a channel where they're currently active.

Whether you want customers to opt into receiving SMS to get updates about their orders, account activity, bookings, breaking news alerts, key product announcements, or other timely outreach, you can tap into your existing channels to secure opt-ins from your customers and your target audience via your current organic and paid outreach.

  • Organic channels: Get out the word via your company's email newsletter, app (with in-app messaging), website (with in-browser messaging), mobile and web push notifications, social media followers, direct mail, and more by incorporating a text opt-in campaign into your current messaging, as illustrated below:

  • Paid channels: With the choice of digital advertising, paid social media ads, radio, TV, and out-of-home campaigns (OOH) on billboards and public transportation ads, there are a number of choices for integrating your SMS opt-ins into your paid outreach, as illustrated below.

How Sweetgreen Organically Grew SMS Subscribers by 10K

Restaurant chain sweetgreen was planning to launch a new app to encourage customers to deliver with the brand directly, instead of via third-party delivery apps.

As part of this new rollout, the company decided to include a simple SMS opt-in as part of the company's app onboarding process, a strategy that worked so well, the brand grew its subscribers by 10,000. As an added incentive, the company sent promo codes to new SMS subscribers to reward them for ordering through their app in place of other delivery companies as a way to sweeten the deal. (Read the full case study here.)

Final Thoughts

Directly messaging customers via a single channel has been shown to lead to significant increases in engagement. Taking things beyond SMS and incorporating this mobile messaging channel into your larger cross-channel messaging strategy can help brands see stronger engagement, revenue, and retention, among other key metrics.

So if you're ready to advance your customer engagement via SMS marketing and across all of today's most impactful messaging channels, check out our step-by-step guide, Adding SMS to Your Cross-Channel Strategy.

Mary Kearl

Mary Kearl

Mary Kearl is a writer and digital strategist, who has led email, social media, and content marketing for several brands. She has helped launch six mobile apps and one niche social network and is always up for a good Netflix/Hulu/Amazon Prime binge recommendation or travel tip

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