8 Pro Tips to Quickly Grow Your SMS Subscriber List

March 17, 2023 (Updated) | By Jenna Bunnell

SMS isn’t the first channel that springs to mind when people think “marketing”. SMS doesn’t have the universality of social media or the gloss of an image-rich email.

However, it does have a lot of other advantages. It’s a fast and direct line to your customers. It’s attention-grabbing. And it’s often the only way to get attention when you need it.

When used in the right way, SMS marketing can be an incredibly useful tool for brands and customers alike. It opens up a new avenue of communication and has special strengths that other channels lack.

In order to start SMS marketing, however, you need to get your customers’ phone numbers.

Providing their phone number can have benefits for customers beyond just enabling SMS marketing. For example, with the right integrations, it can allow them to make a call from their browser, get faster service, access your service offline, track deliveries, get in touch with specific employees, and more.

However, these benefits might not seem worth it to customers who are wary of handing over their phone number. You will have to work hard to convince your customers that signing up to your SMS list really will bring long-term benefits for them.

Here, we will go into the benefits of SMS marketing before letting you in on eight secrets to help build and maintain your SMS list.

What Are the Benefits of SMS Marketing?

SMS marketing can bring some incredible benefits for customers and brands alike. Here are just a few of these benefits:

  • Better access to customers: SMS open rates are almost perfect. If you need to get your customers’ attention quickly, SMS is the way to do it.
  • Available offline: internet coverage isn’t universal. SMS means that you can get information to your customers when they’re out of Wi-Fi range, when they’re out of data, or when they simply don’t want to go online.
  • It integrates well with other marketing channels, such as email.
  • It’s fantastic for boosting customer engagement.
  • It’s a fast and effective way to deliver information.
  • It’s one of the most responsive channels for feedback. If you want to conduct a customer survey, you’re most likely to get responses via SMS.
Smart Replies Example

All in all, SMS marketing is definitely worth it.

However, before you can start reaping those sweet benefits, you need to get your customers' numbers. And that’s not easy.

Building an SMS list can be harder than building any other kind of list. Partly, this is due to the personal nature of a phone number. If you’ve been involved in contact center management, you’ll know how well people guard their numbers and how intrusive they find it when they get unwanted calls and texts.

So, in order to build your SMS list, you’ll have to convince customers that you’re worth it. Here’s how you can do that:

  1. Use Incentives

Incentives are a great part of any customer engagement strategy. Customers won’t do anything for you if you don’t make it worth their while.

Ultimately, consenting to SMS marketing will be positive for your customers. It will open up another avenue of communication. It will enable you to personalize your marketing to give them that added relevance and value. Explaining all this will help to get those digits - but you can seal the deal with some sweet incentives.

For example, you could promise regular discount codes sent by text or offer a free gift at sign-up. Exclusive offers and services will also enhance the benefits for your customers, making them way more likely to sign up.

Text Notification

  1. Target Existing Customers

New customers are exciting, but existing customers have a huge amount of value. When building your SMS list, concentrate on your existing customer base rather than trying to bring in new leads.

Your existing customer base has already bought your product or used your services. If things went well, this means that they already like and trust you. As a result, they’re much more likely to offer up their phone number - especially if you make it clear that doing so will make their experience of your brand a lot better.

SMS is a great way to make your service a bit more personal - and personalization is exactly what modern consumers want. Existing customers, with whom you’ve already started building rapport, will welcome the chance to develop that relationship further through SMS. So, make existing customers your focus when building your list.

  1. Be Welcoming

The better your SMS service is, the more likely customers are to sign up for it. So, don’t just work on getting subscribers. Also, work on making the service worth the subscription.

A welcome text is a good way to start. It not only makes your customers feel valued and respected, but it also shows them the kind of thing they can expect from your SMS. You can display your business name, for example, and the format of your texts.


Aaron’s Auto Sales: Hi Mark! You’re now subscribed to our text list. You’ll be the first to receive promotions and perks from our dealership.

This week we’re offering free car washes and professional wheel cleaning. Come by today to get your car looking great in the summer sun! 🌞

If you’re offering incentives to get customers to sign up (discounts, for example), your welcome text is a good place to deliver on that promise.

Welcome text message

Remember not to cram too much into your welcome message. The strength of SMS marketing is the short, immediate format. If you’ve got a lot to say in your welcome message, it might be worth putting the extra information in an email and using your SMS to direct them to that email. For example, “Welcome to our SMS service! For your free gift and more information, check your email inbox for the email we’ve just sent you.”

And speaking of email…

  1. Use Email

SMS and email work very well together. You can use them in tandem to provide a reliable, perfectly personalized customer communication experience.

SMS is great for providing short but immediate notifications, while emails are great for sending more detailed information. These two strengths support one another and can be used together very effectively.

Let’s say, for example, that your customer has booked an appointment with you. As their appointment approaches, you might email them with more details about what to expect, what to bring, and so on.

The problem with this is that emails - especially commercial emails - don’t have a perfect open rate. Even if the customer does open your email, there’s no guarantee that they will do so in time.

That’s not the case for SMS. SMS messages have an immediacy and an urgency that emails lack. Their open rates are nearly perfect - making them ideal for quick, important notifications.

SMS vs Other Channels

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In this case, you could send a quick SMS to your customer reminding them of their appointment and asking them to check their email for more information.

If you want to use SMS and email together in this way, it makes sense to use email to build your SMS list. Send out emails to your customers requesting their phone data. Be sure to include:

  • The reason you want their number.
  • How their number will be used.
  • How giving their number will benefit them.
  • Your data security policy.
  • Any incentives you’re planning to offer SMS customers.

  1. Add an SMS Opt-in to Your Checkout

If you’re involved in ecommerce, it’s likely that you’ll have an online checkout. Your checkout is a great opportunity to gather customer data - including SMS data.

By the time they get to your checkout, your customers are already invested in your brand and product. So long as it doesn’t add too much friction to the checkout process, they’re often amenable to handing over their phone details along with their payment info.

Building your SMS list via your online checkout can be as simple as adding a checkbox to your form, like this:

Contact Information

Enabling autofill options makes things even easier for your customer, so be sure to do that if you can!

  1. Cross-Promote

To build your SMS list as quickly as possible, promote it everywhere you can. We’ve already mentioned using email to gather phone numbers - but you likely have more strings to your bow than just emails.

Promote your SMS channel on social media, on your blog, in your newsletter, and more. If you have a live chat function on your website, use chatbot marketing hacks to promote SMS as another direct form of communication.

Pop-ups can be very useful when cross-promoting. They’re a quick way to get a customer’s attention, and you can cram a surprising amount of information (benefits, incentives, and so on) into a small pop-up.

Pop-up opt-in

You could even take advantage of both outbound and inbound calls in your call center to offer your SMS service. Point out that communicating via SMS can be a lot quicker than phoning in!

  1. Be Transparent

One of the biggest challenges facing SMS marketers is the issue of data privacy. Someone’s phone number is very private and personal to them. When you have somebody’s phone number, you have a direct kind of access to that customer that no other marketing channel can provide.

All in all, a phone number is sensitive data. Both customers and the law frown heavily on obtaining this kind of data without explicit permission.

For this reason, you can’t just dig into your contact center analytics and mine phone numbers. You need to get full consent for SMS marketing. To get that consent, you need your customer to trust you. And for your customer to trust you, they need you to be transparent.

Be completely upfront with your customer when promoting your SMS service. Tell them:

  • Why you want their data.
  • What you will use their data for.
  • Where your data will be stored.
  • Who will have access to their data.
  • How they can unsubscribe from your service.

And so on.

  1. Make it simple to sign up

Click fatigue is real, and it’s a significant barrier to building your list. If you don’t make sign-up as simple as possible, people will get frustrated and click out before converting.

How can you make your process friction-free? Well, it’s not as simple as making your sign-up one click. There’s a trade-off you have to make between friction and data security.

Security measures (two-step verification, for example) make your sign-up process more complex, but they also make it safer. This puts you in a tricky position: make your sign-up too simple, and people won’t feel safe entering their data. Make it too complex, and people will get frustrated.

Striking that balance isn’t always easy, but certain things can help:

  • Use social logins where possible. This enables you to get all the data you need from a source the customer trusts. The customer, meanwhile, can give all that data with a single click.
  • Enable autofill on your forms.
  • Provide links to your data security and privacy policies.
  • If you have any, display your security certificates on your subscription page. It’s reassuring for customers to know that you’ve got cybersecurity giants at your back.
  • Make sure that your sign-up forms are optimized for mobile. After all, you’re asking your customers to hand over their phone data - so if your subscription forms are slow and glitchy on mobile, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.
Security logos

Build Your SMS List and Boost Your Bottom Line

Communication is key in business. SMS marketing opens up another way to communicate with your customer.

Through SMS, you can give your customers exclusive deals and services to make them feel special and valued. You can get crucial information (for example, impending deliveries) to them quickly and efficiently. You can build rapport, boost customer satisfaction, grow customer loyalty, and improve your conversion rate.

Building your SMS list can be difficult. A phone number is sensitive information, and not every customer will feel comfortable giving a brand that much access to their life. However, with the right incentives, the right handling, and the right sign-up process, you’ll quickly find your SMS list growing.

6-tips-to-quickly-grow-subscribers-list-05.png Jenna Bunnell - Senior Manager, Content Marketing, Dialpad

Jenna Bunnell is the Senior Manager for Content Marketing and outbound calls at Dialpad, an AI-incorporated cloud-hosted unified communications system that provides valuable call details for business owners and sales representatives. She is driven and passionate about communicating a brand’s design sensibility and visualizing how content can be presented in creative and comprehensive ways.

Check out her LinkedIn profile. She has also written content for Brightpearl and Miro.

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