Text List Sign-Up: How “Text to Join” Works in 2024

March 8, 2023 (Updated) | By Sam Pelton
Text List Sign-Up: How “Text to Join” Works in 2024

So you know you want to use SMS marketing for your business.

You know the power and potential of texting. You know it has a high open rate (up to 98%!).

You know that people pay attention to their texts and that it’s an excellent way to boost up sales for your business and stop wasting time and money on your marketing.

You want to use it to help ease your marketing frustrations and help you be more satisfied with your marketing efforts!

But here’s the rub: How can you actually get people to subscribe to your texts? How can you build your text message sign up list?

SMS marketing platforms have many tools to help, and one of those tools is a “text to join” (or “join by text”) option.


Test the text list sign-up process by texting the word AUSTINDEMO to the number 41372 to see "text to join" in action

What is Text List Sign-Up via “Text to Join”?

A “text to join” feature is a way for people to join your text list by sending a text. All they need to do is send a text to a specific number and they’ll be automatically added to your text message sign up list.

You can even designate a particular word for them to text in, which can trigger specific responses to be sent back to the subscriber automatically.

We refer to the “particular word” as a “keyword.” The “keyword” can be essentially any word you’d like, so you can make it generic or specific to your business, according to your preference.

The phone number people need to text into could be either a short code (5-digit number), or a dedicated 10-digit number that belongs to your account.

As soon as people text into your number, they will be added to your text message sign up list.

Their phone number will appear in your database so that you can send them text promotions.

Why Use “Text to Join” as Text List Sign-Up Method?

Allowing your customers to join by text in order to be added to your text message sign up list gives them (and you!) an easy and convenient way to subscribe.

You want to make the sign-up process as easy and painless as possible, both for your sake and your customer's sake!

This can save both you and them time and effort - Making the subscription process more convenient helps remove barriers for your customers, thus bringing in more subscribers.

Freeing up your time from tedious processes (and bringing in more subscribers for your marketing texts) allows you to focus on things that are more important, such as growing your business or having a better work-home balance.

And the more subscribers who are receiving your marketing texts, the more likely they are to take advantage of your services, bringing in greater revenue for you!

(Not to mention that since your customers are opting themselves in - rather than you adding them without their permission, which is strictly taboo - they are much more likely to pay attention and engage with your text promotions.)

So how do you go about all of this?

Text to Join Via Short Code, or Dedicated 10-Digit Number?

One thing you’ll need to decide when it comes to your “text to join” feature is whether you want to use a short code or dedicated 10-digit number.

Dedicated 10-Digit Number

Your account on your SMS marketing platform will come with free access to a dedicated 10-digit number that is unique to you. This is the number your mass text messages will be sent through.

You can use this 10-digit number as the opt-in number for your your text list sign-up process, so customers to join by text and get added to your text message sign up list.

One huge upside of using your dedicated number is that you don't need specific "keywords." Your customers can send in a text with any content and they'll be automatically subscribed.

It will also create a consistent experience for your customers, since they’ll be subscribing to the same number that they’ll be receiving messages from.

The downside of a dedicated number is that since it’s a long 10-digit number, it can be a bit clunky for people to type in the number and send the message.

Text to join example

Shared Short Code

Your account will also come with access to get keywords set up on a shared short code (a shorter number, in this case 5 digits).

The benefit of short codes is that they are shorter and much easier for people to type into their phones so that they can subscribe.

There are a few downsides to this, however:

  • Your customers would need to text in a specific keyword in order to be subscribed
  • The short code isn’t the same number that your messages will be sent through, so it creates a slightly inconsistent experience for your customers.
  • The short code is shared across multiple businesses, so you need to have a keyword that’s totally unique to you.
  • Shared short codes are being phased out by phone carriers, so they could be shut down at any time and become unusable (at which point you would need to switch to a 10-digit toll-free number or some other option).
Text to join example

Dedicated Short Code

A third and less common option would be a dedicated short code.

A dedicated short code allows you to send your messages through a dedicated 5-digit number that is unique to your account. Unlike the shared short codes, a dedicated short code wouldn't be in imminent danger of shutdown by phone carriers.

Since you would not be sharing this short code with other businesses, it has the same benefits as the dedicated 10-digit number: consistency and the ability to use any keyword you'd like. And it has the added benefit of being short and easy to type in.

The reason why dedicated short codes are not commonly used is because they cost more to lease and utilize, and they also can take several weeks to get set up. But feel free to contact us if you have any interest in using a dedicated short code for your business!

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Text to join example

Text List Sign-Up Via QR Code

Another “text to join” option worth mentioning is QR codes.

QR codes are becoming more and more popular - Some sources say that since the pandemic began, the use of QR codes has increased by as much as 10% in America.

So why not use them as a part of your SMS marketing strategy to get people to subscribe to your text message sign up list?

Here’s how it works.

Step 1: Download Your “Text to Join” QR Code from Your SMS Marketing Platform

Your QR code allowing people to join by text will be automatically set up in your SMS marketing platform, so you can customize and download it from there.

Step 2: Advertise Your “Text to Join” QR Code

Once your QR code is on your device, you can share it on social media and email campaigns, or print it out for your physical mailings or on-site locations.

Step 3: Your Customers Can Scan the QR Code and Text to Join

When your customers scan your QR code, their phone will automatically compose a new text message to your account’s dedicated toll-free text number. (It will pre-fill some content for the text.)

All your customers need to do is hit “Send” on their phones, sending the text with the pre-filled content. Their phone number will then be automatically added to your text message sign up list.

Getting “Text to Join” Implemented for Your Text List Sign-Up Process

After deciding which method you’d like to use to allow your customers to join by text, all that’s left to do is to get it implemented!

Step 1 (Optional): Select Your Keyword

If you want to designate a particular word for people to text in, you can start by setting up the “keyword” you’d like to use.

Here are some tips on how to select a keyword:

  • Select something short and easy to remember
  • Select something that is easy to spell (to help avoid both user spelling mistakes and potential issues with auto-correct)
  • If possible, select something that is only one word (no spaces are allowed)
  • Don’t be too worried about selecting the perfect keyword - you can always change it later!

Step 2: Share Your Opt-In Instructions

To get people to sign up for your texts, you’ll obviously need to share your opt-in instructions (whether that’s telling people to text into your dedicated number or short code, or scan your QR code).

Use any means at your disposal:

  • Social media posts
  • Email campaigns
  • Newsletters
  • Online advertising campaigns
  • Mail advertising campaigns
  • Blog posts
  • Materials within your physical location (if applicable)

The best way to get someone to join your text message sign up list is by offering some clear and tangible incentives for subscribing.

This could be anything from a free item to a discount to an entry into a free giveaway.

“Text to Join” Examples

Here are some specific examples of ways the “text to join” feature can be utilized to boost your sales and business by adding more subscribers to your text message sign up list:

Dedicated Toll-Free Number

Text WINNER to 877-xxx-xxxx to be added to our coupon text alerts and be entered into our drawing for a $250 gift card!

Text DOZEN to 877-xxx-xxxx to receive exclusive discounts via text and get a FREE dozen donuts on your next visit!

Shared Short Code

Who doesn’t love fried cheese curds?? Text BOWLING to 41372 to sign up for VIP text discounts and get a free order of curds on your next visit to the alley!

Want 25% off TODAY? Text AWESOME to 41372 right now to sign up for our text alerts and get your first deal RIGHT AWAY!

Dedicated Short Code

Don’t miss out on any updates! Sign up for our texts by sending the word ALERTS to our number xxxxx.

Get a free month’s subscription! Just text FREE to our number xxxxx to join our text club.

QR Code

50% off? Yes, please! Scan the code below to see how.

Buy one pair of jeans or leggings, get the second FREE if you sign up for our texts TODAY! Just scan the code here.

Grow your text list sign-up process using "text to join"

So now you know the power and process of a text to join feature for your text alerts.

What next?

It’s time to get out there and get texting!

Try out text alerts for your own business and let your customers text to join - Free up your time, energy, and frustration by using "text to join" to yield greater subscription rates and greater satisfaction in your marketing efforts.

Watch your subscription rates rise and your marketing efforts thrive!

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