The majority of local businesses find maximizing their marketable SMS list to be the hardest part of SMS marketing. Why? Many organizations are not collecting phone numbers, forgetting to collect explicit consent, or failing to maximize their opportunities to collect opt-ins. 

But with the right setup, collecting opt-ins can be passive work. The key is to integrate opt-in entry points at every possible step of the customer journey. There are a number of touch points along your customer journey where collecting an opt-in is natural, and even expected. If you take advantage of these opportunities, your text subscriber list will build itself. 

Read on to learn how to grow your text subscriber list quickly and naturally. 

Man subscribing to a text list

The Low Down on Text Message Marketing

The fact of the matter is that local businesses are uniquely positioned to win with SMS marketing. According to our 2021 Local Business Messaging Trends report, local businesses are situated to reach their consumers’ text messaging inboxes more often than major chains and eCommerce players.

Consumers are 21% more likely to opt-in to local businesses’ text promotions over major chain or big-box retailers. And they’re 45% more likely to opt-in over online or eCommerce businesses.

Local businesses have an implied trust with consumers that they can use to collect opt-ins. Then they can strengthen that trust, build customer loyalty, and drive revenue with well-timed, personalized promotions. 

SMS marketing is also one of the most cost-effective types of campaigns you can run as a local business. Compared to other digital campaigns (like email or social promotions), SMS campaigns are extremely low-cost to run, allowing you to engage new leads and increase customer lifetime value at very little cost. Recent data also shows that providing options such as text can directly increase a local business’s revenue.

What is an Opt-in List

An opt-in list is a list of customers who have agreed to receive your text messages. Getting an opt-in from your customers is a must—the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and other similar regulations require it. 

The TCPA was put in place to protect customers from spam, including unwanted calls and SMS messages. It’s important to remember that laws differ by location and are often changing. Different implications and regulations may apply depending on how or where you use a specific tool. Because of this, you should always consult your own legal counsel.

→Some best practices to keep in mind:

✅ Make sure you have proper consent from each message recipient

✅ Mention your business’s name in the message

✅ Alert the customer about possible messaging fees

✅ Include the option to opt-out of all future texts

✅ Honor those opt-outs

Tips for Building Your Opt-in List

→Website Touch Points

Your website is often the first opportunity to capture a consumer’s attention. It’s also a great place to collect opt-ins from people who haven’t transacted yet and can even serve as a mechanism to convert leads into customers.

Not sure how to go about collecting opt-ins on your website? Here are some ideas: 

  • Online Sign-Up Pages and Forms – This collection type involves creating landing pages that are dedicated to collecting opt-ins. With this touch point, location-specific pages can be generated and shared via URL or QR code. Remember that not all sign-up pages are created equal. Effective pages provide fields to collect names and phone numbers, use clear legal language to communicate that they’re collecting information for SMS marketing purposes, and should be customized to fit your company’s brand.
  • Website Banners, Pop-Ups, and Prompts – With this collection type, customers opt-in by filling out a banner pop-up that appears on your webpage after a time delay specified by you.
  • Website Chat – Website chats are tools where website visitors can do things like ask questions, set appointments, and check for product or appointment availability. They’re also opt-in wellsprings. You can easily leverage your website chat to include an opt-in invitation whenever someone leaves an inquiry. This might involve using an embedded lead form or “Contact Us” form (with the proper legal consent).
  • Point of Sale or Transaction – Collecting opt-ins at the point of sale can be a game-changer. It can be easy, too. Simply give customers the option to opt-in during the checkout process. At this point, they’re already interested enough to purchase from you, so there’s a good chance they’ll want to be looped in for future communication from your brand.

Opt in invite example

  • Review – This is the opt-in touch point that closes the loop. If you’re already leveraging a reputation management solution like Podium Reviews, you can capture the opt-in after a review is sent. People who leave favorable reviews are probably more likely to want to receive information about future promotions.

Review text opt-in invite

→Hybrid Touch Points

These days, local businesses can conduct their business in-store, online, face-to-face, or even a combination of all three.

With the right tools, you can gather opt-ins wherever and however you operate. With that in mind, here’s a list of out-of-the-box ways you can present opt-in invitations to build your text subscriber list.

  • URL & QR Code – Once you’ve set up an online sign-up form, you can share it via URL or QR code.
    • URLs are a great way to link prospects and customers directly to your sign-up form. They’re particularly useful for sharing over social media and converting an existing email marketing list.
    • QR codes are a great way to present your sign-up forms on printed (wall signs or table tents) and digital signage (televisions/monitors/tablets that are present in-store). You can also present them via product packaging, business cards, stickers, cash register stands, or physical checkout locations. With this method, all your customers have to do is scan the QR code with their smartphone camera and they’ll be redirected to your opt-in sign-up form.
  • Sign-Up/Opt-In Station – An online sign-up form that can be displayed on a tablet, smartphone, computer, or laptop is a great way to collect opt-ins face-to-face. Many businesses find this effective at events, trade shows, and pop-up shops. Other effective scenarios for this type of opt-in invite might include a home services business that conducts services at customers’ homes or retail stores with lots of foot traffic.
  • Text-to-Join Keyword – Another effective method for collecting opt-ins from prospects and customers is establishing a textable keyword. This form of opt-in doesn’t rely on an online sign-up page. Instead, it requires a business to pick a keyword like “Subscribe,” which can be texted to a business’s number to opt-in. A textable keyword—much like a QR code—can be printed or displayed digitally alongside the appropriate consent language.

opt in invite example - keyword

→Existing Channels

Don’t forget—leveraging existing marketing channels to cast a wider net can be an SMS opt-in acquisition strategy gold mine. All of the strategies listed above are great, but taking advantage of your current marketing channels to reach consumers allows for a more seamless process because you’ll be using the communication strategies your customers are already used to.

  • Email – Many organizations already have large email marketing lists, which means: large opportunity. You can convert your email marketing contacts and existing customers into SMS marketing subscribers by sending an email blast prompting people to opt-in to promotional texts. Typically, this is facilitated by a URL link to the online sign-up page, which can live in either the email copy or in your signature.
  • Social Media – Facebook and Instagram are other effective avenues to promote an online sign-up form. Create a social post with a URL, QR code, or text-to-join keyword to capture opt-ins through those channels.
  • Mailers – Who said snail mail and technology were mutually exclusive? Add a QR code graphic or printed keyword to your mailers to engage even your most remote customers.

Crafting Opt-In Sign-Up Forms That Convert

Now that we’ve covered touch points, it’s time to optimize conversion from your sign-up forms. Many local businesses find they are able to collect more SMS opt-ins through offers and incentives. The goal is to make each subscription form as enticing as possible—providing value up-front in exchange for customers’ permission to market to them.

There are a couple of different ways you can do this.

  • Direct Incentives – Giving direct incentives involves offering a specific discount or offer if consumers sign up for promotional texts. Think: “Sign up for our text list for 10% off your next purchase” or “Our text subscribers get access to deals and discounts first. Don’t miss out—opt-in today!”
  • Contests and Giveaways – Contests and giveaways are also excellent ways to create value from the get-go and help subscribers feel like they’re getting the better end of the deal. Next time you host a giveaway, consider offering extra entries to those who join your text list.

Get Started with Text Message Marketing

With the right tools, collecting opt-ins for SMS messaging is a breeze for a team of any size. Podium’s text message marketing software provides:  

What you get with Podium

Ready to get started? Sign up for a free, no-strings-attached 14-day trial of Podium and start sending text campaigns to your subscribers today.

Jono Andrews
Jono Andrews Group Manager of Product Marketing
Jono is a Group Manager of Product Marketing at Podium, the premiere marketing and communications platform that connects local businesses with their customers.  He loves to help local businesses see success in creating the best customer experience.

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