Email Marketing

7 Ideas to Grow an Ecommerce SMS List

As the popularity of text messaging increases, so does the potential for ecommerce businesses to use it as a marketing tool.

In the United States, for example, some 98% of adults have access to text messaging, per multiple published reports. Upwards of 80% to 95% of U.S. adults text regularly. And several surveys suggest that roughly half of American adults prefer ecommerce updates via text to other methods.

Text messaging lists are “owned media,” like email. The business communicates with the subscriber directly without an intermediary. It’s a superior form of marketing.

Here are seven ideas to add subscribers to a text messaging list.

7 Ways to Grow an SMS List

Solicit subscribers during the checkout. For your online store, send confirmation messages and shipping updates to customers via SMS. These types of communication have high open and click rates.

The first step is asking shoppers during the checkout process if they want text communications.

Be careful to comply with applicable laws. In the United States, this means following the rules in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991. (A double opt-in for text subscribers is a good idea.)

Offer incentives. To increase text message sign-ups, offer a discount or other incentive before or during the checkout process. A gift, 10% off, or similar can spur opt-ins.

Screenshot of pop-up from Jack in the Box offering free french fries to new SMS subscribers

Jack in the Box, the restaurant, offers free french fries to new SMS subscribers.

Use sign-up forms. Add a text-message option beside all email subscription forms. Give visitors the option to receive email, text, or both.

Run A/B tests to determine how the form’s location and layout impact usage. Also monitor how both lists perform. If the email list drives a lot more sales over time, consider de-emphasizing SMS — or vice versa. Keep both if they outperform other channels.

Sell with text. Gary Vaynerchuk’s Wine Text has long proven that text commerce is real — a new source of ecommerce revenue.

Tools such as Textual, TextRetailer, and MessageMedia help manage the texting and integrate with ecommerce platforms.

Use challenges and contests. Challenges and contests are proven to grow an ecommerce list, including SMS, and relatively easier conversions than standalone solicitations. To enter the contest for a prize, participants must first subscribe to text messaging.

Imagine an online shop that sells weight loss supplements. It could run a 14-day weight loss challenge wherein contestants receive daily text messages for exercise and meal suggestions. At the end, participants could receive an incentive to purchase the supplements.

Advertise. Advertisements on Meta, Reddit, and TikTok can generate SMS subscribers. Consider combining the ads with contexts or challenges. The 14-day weight loss challenge above could be the focus of Facebook ads, for example.

Promote organically on social media. Consumers on social media want to watch, listen to, and read content from people, not businesses. Use a spokesperson to solicit text message sign-ups.

Armando Roggio

Armando Roggio

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