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How to grow your ecommerce SMS list

Irene Rufferty
15 April, 2021

Any marketing effort is useless without an audience. When you need to reach out to them in a rapid, personalized manner, SMS marketing is a true solution. And the essential prearrangement for sending the engaging messages is building a contact list. Its continuous increasing is a key to achieving the desired ROI — either sales, or donations, or just a positive brand image. The more people read your text, the better. However, your contacts and prospects should be interested in your company and engage in conversation with mutual respect and trust.

Even the millennials who are seemingly chained to trendsetting technologies like messengers, according to the survey, still consider receiving texts helpful. Three-quarters of 500 people aged 18 to 34 would prefer the text-only phone rather than the voice-only. They describe ecommerce SMS updates from businesses as less obtrusive (60%), one less thing to keep in mind (57%) and more convenient (55%).

Here are the main things to know when advertising via bulk SMS campaign:

  1. Familiarize customers what they are opting-in for — what you do and how it works. Describe your program.
  2. In your call-to-action, include a link to your privacy policy, as well as to terms and conditions. Or provide a link where they can learn more about the marketing program.
  3. Tell them, how frequently per month they will be hearing from you.
  4. Provide the recipients with guidance on how to opt-out.

Why getting people to subscribe is better than buying a list?

As a marketer, you are probably juggling various tasks at once such as driving engagement, filling sales funnel, boosting brand awareness, and creating relevant content. And if the SMS-marketing is a part of your strategy, you have very likely been solicited to purchase a subscribers list. This may seem particularly easier if you start a campaign from scratch. However, choosing the easiest way eventually hardly benefits. The purchased list will not facilitate the way to your marketing objectives, but may negatively impact your reputation.

Personal data is protected by legislation, such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU or Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) in the USA. Before sending anything, you need to obtain the potential recepient’s explicit consent. This is applicable even if your company had previously interacted with a person and knows their phone number.

If you hope to attract more leads and grow engagement with a purchased contact list, you will probably have an opposite effect. Sellers offer you a database with thousands of “legitimate” contacts. Yet, they scarcely use HLR number lookup or similar phone number verification software, therefore, there is no confidence that a number refers to a certain operator. Such a list will also include out-dated, duplicate and incorrect contacts.

Remember, the chance for a response is higher if a message is sent to the people expecting them. Even if you are an organization allowed text without an opt-in, e. g. a tax-exempt non-profit, or if you use peer-to-peer texting, getting the green light first is a good practice. It’s important to lead a person gently to a subscription request. For example, if someone comes to your blog, start a dialogue asking them (via a chat bot) what topics would be interesting for them to read. Thus, there is a higher chance to engage a supporter.

On the contrary, nobody in the purchased list has explicitly and specifically consented to receive texts from you. Receiving a message unlooked-for, in the best-case scenario, we ignore it, or worse — we complain. Annoying people will bring no additional revenue, but will definitely impair your reputation. Fortunately, there are enough alternative good SMS-marketing list building tips we will cover below.

Best practices to expand your mobile SMS list

  • Digital paths to the current audience

Your existing social media followers and email contacts have to be used to invite people to subscribe to your mobile SMS list. Inspire them to sign up for notifications. Utilize all available social media channels for your keyword promotion. Tweeter, Instagram, Clubhouse, Facebook, Reddit, Telegram, YouTube, podcasts and even Tiktok allow you to post appealing visuals, emoji and CTAs to attract new members.

Take the related and memorable opt-in keyword and shortcode and popularize them everywhere! For example, very good keywords in SMS marketing for ecommerce website are GIVEAWAY or DISCOUNT — 77% of customers reported that discounts matter when they choose a vendor. A perfect omnichannel framework never lets channels work against each other — each of them is a team player.

  • Value in return

Bear in mind that SMS subscribers provide you a very intimate access level: a personal phone number. Promise your supporters a red-carpet benefit in exchange for their attention. Coupons, VIP treatment, first access to sales, rewards, limited looks behind-the-scenes — all those things will entice the audience to sign up. In addition, customers receiving benefits are likely to stay opted in.

  • Lead-magnets

A lead magnet is an enticement that marketers offer to possible buyers in exchange for their contact information. This is like a trial, and if it is interesting and high-quality, you will gain advantage against your competitors. Lead magnet is a piece of downloadable digital content, such as:

  • PDF checklist
  • guide
  • report (especially for non-profits)
  • infographics
  • preview or an eBook chapter
  • notification of launching a service / a game
  • brief video-course
  • whitepaper
  • webinar
  • free delivery (at the lower stages of your sales funnel)

and many more. You will need to create a lead-form and a pop-up, and locate them on the most visited website pages.

  • Arrange a contest

This is one of the most powerful ways to collect the phone numbers. You can include the competition announcement into your ecommerce SMS notifications and promote it across your website, mailing, internet communities and in-store. Offer a prize favourable enough to enter. Make sure to tell the participants that they can receive the sweepstake updates if they decide to enter.

  • Capture via the website form and web chat

If you see from your analytics that the prospects tend to take interest and interact with your website, a web-form is your priority. You can download the opt-ins collected via it, and then upload them into your mass texting tool, including mobile number field as a CSV file. And if you’re using the API access, you can create a web form and add contacts directly to your base.

A web chat can generate you leads when it is turned into an automated route to SMS subscription. When visitors can contact you to find real-time answers to their questions, this results in their higher satisfaction, increases average cost per order and conversion.

  • Other web-interface elements

Across your website, you can also demonstrate your CTAs. Headers, footers, side bars, news, widgets — involve creativity into where and how to do feature CTAs. Update your website pop-up with an SMS opt-in suggestion. Accurately timed and containing incentives, the pop-ups are a right way to generate SMS subscriptions.

  • Part of the interaction process

Include opting in your messaging list into the on-boarding process. For example, educational establishments pick the opt-ins during enrollment, together with other paperwork. Businesses can collect phone numbers from customers during the check-out. Check-ins are also a good place to include a call to action. This can be done by asking the clients to share their phone numbers while they make a purchase or fill out a form.

  • Personally

Of course, in-person meetings are limited today. However, you can speak to attendees before, during, and after gathering to clarify what they expect to learn, and to notify about the extra benefits to those who opt into the SMS list. During digital meetings, prominently demonstrate your opt-in keywords on the screen at any opportunity.

Encouraging physical signs, business cards or offline flyers can also encourage people to stay informed. Placing the sign up instructions on them is an excellent way to send offers to prospects met at the trade exhibitions, networking and other industry events. Pen and paper sign ups remain a common technique in text message marketing for ecommerce to get people to opt in. Customers who have taken your flyers will probably sign up to receive future discounts.

Closing your speech at a presentation, introduce a slide with a keyword and a short code that the viewers can text to get the presentation. Once you send it to them via email, you can ask if they want to remain opted-in for further SMS notifications. Use all ways and places, from ceremonies to brick-and-mortar to advertise a campaign.

How to efficiently use SMS list building tools

Collect only necessary data. Reduce the load on the prospect subscribers: gather only the crucial information.The 4-field contact form proved to be by 160% more efficient than the 11-field one. For the same reason, use autofills to cut the typing time needed to complete your form.

In any marketing strategy, there will inevitably be unsubscribes. This is absolutely not a bad thing. It ensures that important messages reach people. But here, we face the truth that not everyone in our database likes the same thing, and they are at the different points of their customer experience. That’s why you need to segment your subscribers base by significant criteria.

With BSG, you create a database once and maintain it without additional contacts search. Gather data for forthcoming targeted outreach using automated text follow ups. From the data received from contacts, at the international SMS platform, you can individualize your next follow-up. Data personalization, adjustable segmentation and filters in BSG bulk SMS service help to quickly create warm, personally addressed messages. Set date and time, the most convenient for each segment. Thanks to the feature of adding the name and other personal data, you can create a loyal customer list remembering your care and feeling superior with it.

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