3 Ways to Build a Text Message List

Want to build a list for text message marketing? Getting customers to sign up to receive offers from you via text message is almost as simple as letting them know that they can. 

If you want to send out text messages to your customers, the first step is to build your list. Your customers need to opt-in using their phone by texting a keyword to your text message vendor’s shortcode. (Example: Text KEYWORD to 12345) Your job is to convince them they want to receive texts from your company and give them all the information they need to do so.

The reason you want to be able to reach out to your customers is so that they will come into your business and spend money whenever you send them a text. But no one would opt in for that reason. You need to make it compelling for them. Give them something they want. A discount. A special offer. Advance notice. Insider information. Reminders.

Write up your opt-in message in the form of a headline. Text KEYWORD to 12345 for Special Offers. Or Text KEYWORD to 12345 for Early Notice of Our Biggest Sales. Be creative about it because people see a lot of opportunities to sign up for text messages and could easily decide yours is not worthwhile. You want them to want to be on your list.

RELATED: 6 Ways to Provide Value with Mobile

Once you have your opt-in offer lined up, the next step is to get it in front of your customers. The good news is that they will undoubtedly have the tool they need to sign (i.e. their cell phone) up for your list within arm’s reach.


The best place to connect with your customers is in your place of business. These are the people who buy from you or at least want to buy from you already. Make signs announcing your opt-in offer and place them at the front door and strategically around your business. Put smaller signs near where they pay in the form of a business card or postcard to take home.

It is best to have more than one sign so that people see your enticing offer more than once during their visit. It is a great idea as well to have your staff verbally offer the opt-in. A simple, “Have you signed up for our text message reminders yet?” can go a long way to helping boost your list size.

In an example of this, let’s say a golf course had done promotion to attract neighborhood residents to come in for brunch during the winter. There would be a text message opt-in sign by the coat check room, by the hostess station and a small sign on the table. When the server brings the check, they would say, “Be sure to sign up for our text message reminders. We’ll be having a great Valentine’s Day special and our text message subscribers will get the first chance to reserve their table.”


Be sure to put your text message opt-in offer on your website. You worked hard to get people to your site, now capitalize on it by getting them to give you a way to reach out to them in the future. You still want to have your email opt-in list prominently featured, but add your text message offer as well.

This is a good time to point out that you want to give people a unique reason to be on your text message list otherwise they will choose just one way for you to reach them. If they know that you’ll be sending them something different or sooner via texts they are more willing to be on both communication channels.


Your email list is a terrific place to advertise your text message list. These customers and potential customers are already getting communication from you may be very open to another way to communicate with your business.

You can say something like this in your email announcing your latest sale, “Our text message subscribers got this message 2 days ago. Sign up for our text message list by texting KEYWORD to 12345 so you’ll get the inside scoop sooner next time.”

As you build your text message list it is important that you stay compliant with advertising laws around text messaging. First, never send commercial text messages to anyone who did not explicitly opt-in to receive text messages from your company. This can cost you a lot of money as it is mobile spam and there are laws against it in most countries. Second, when you are announcing your text message list for people to opt-in, you need to tell them what to expect. How many messages you will send each month and that it may cost them fees from their cell phone company to receive your messages. The wording to use for this is this format: Msg&Data rates may apply. You will receive up to 7 messages per month. To opt out, text STOP to 12345.

To do a text message campaign you will need to work with a text messaging vendor. For enterprise level businesses, Tatango (www.tatango.com) is a solid option. Tatango also has a plethora of how to do text messaging resources. For smaller businesses, Go Mobile Media Marketing (http://www.gomobilemediamarketing.com) has a reliable platform that does text messaging and other types of mobile marketing as well. Businesses pay a monthly fee for access to a shared short code and the software that captures subscribers when they opt-in and sends messages. There is also a fee per message. Text messaging is not the least expensive marketing tool, but it is one of the most effective in getting straight to consumers wherever they are.

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