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7 Effective Ways to Grow Your SMS List (Besides Checkout)

January 7, 2021

7 Effective Ways to Grow Your SMS List (Besides Checkout)

The time and effort you put into creating your brand’s text marketing campaigns is wasted if you don’t have an audience to engage with your messages. The more people you have on your SMS list, the higher the likelihood your text campaigns will generate sales and increase your bottom line. 

With the news that Shopify is limiting the ability to allow SMS sign-ups in the checkout process, they’re essentially forcing businesses on their platform to make the difficult decision of either upgrading to Shopify Plus, or figuring out an alternative method to collecting opt-ins. 

Our research indicates that a majority of consumers tend to sign up at checkout (which makes a good case for making the switch), but if your business isn’t quite ready to take that leap into Shopify Plus, we created a detailed list of alternative methods to collecting opt-ins that are separate from the checkout process. 

Finding a relevant offer for your audience

A key component to growing your SMS list is ensuring that you’re testing several different offers so that over time you can identify which offers are the most appealing to your target audience. Oftentimes the offer will be a discount, but sometimes you can use resources that add value to the customer experience as a way to incentivize consumers to opt-in to your SMS notifications. 

Finding relevant offers that captivate your audience is essential to finding success with your SMS marketing efforts. Tortuga Backpacks–a DTC brand that sells travel packs–created a helpful Carry On Packing List to incentivize their audience to sign-up for text updates. After testing several offers, they found that the packing list was the most effective at increasing sign-ups because it was easy to use, and it offered value to their target customers. 

“We tested everything from post-specific downloadables to a fun “cootie catcher.” The downloadable packing list worked for a few reasons: anyone can use it, it delivers actual value, and it’s perfectly aligned with our content around packing tips and tricks.” 
- Fred Perrotta, CEO, Tortuga Backpacks

Creating a channel strategy

Don’t rely on a single marketing channel to grow your SMS list. Smart marketers will develop a multi-channel strategy that focuses on reaching their audience at several customer touchpoints–both on and offline. 

Email strategy

Email can be one of the best ways to quickly grow your SMS list, especially if you already have a list of existing customers that you’re regularly sending emails to. It can be as simple as adding a banner to your upcoming email campaign with a “Text to Join” offer designed to attract new SMS subscribers. 

When writing your email, consider these three points to help increase the number of sign-ups you’ll receive:

  • What’s the key benefit to signing-up for the user? Are you satisfying a specific need, or offering an incentive? Clarify this as early in your message as possible. 
  • Clearly explain what types of messages the recipient can expect to receive after signing up.
  • Include a call-to-action at the end of your email that links to a dedicated opt-in page on your website. Rather than packing every benefit and detail into the body of the email, include that information on the landing page and keep your message clear and concise. 

A great example of this strategy can be found in Hilo Gummies’ marketing emails. This brand offers its customers a 15% discount off their next order if they follow the link in the email and sign-up on a separate landing page. It’s a non-intrusive way to capitalize on the existing email list that you’ve already worked hard to build. 

Social media strategy

Harnessing your social media following to help build your SMS list is another effective tactic that’s used by countless DTC brands right now. Your audience is already primed to opt-in to your text communications if they’re on a mobile device, so make it easy for them by linking to a dedicated landing page that they can quickly navigate to and opt-in. 

Get creative with how you’re reaching your customers on social. Use your Instagram story and Twitter fleets to get your message in front of as many eyes as possible. Create a custom URL to use in your bio and drive users directly from your social profile to your website to opt-in. The more opportunities you give your audience to opt-in, the quicker you’ll be able to grow your SMS list. 

Haus’ Instagram profile

On-site acquisition

There are several points throughout your website experience that you should consider adding an opt-in. In addition to a traditional pop-up, other examples of on-site locations include: 

  • Announcement bars: Adding your opt-in message to a floating announcement bar will increase its visibility and ensure that visitors don’t miss out on your offer. 
  • Homepage footer: Visitors to your website will often look to the footer to locate customer service details or contact information. Placing an opt-in in the footer will ensure that your message is seen and visitors seeking to connect with your brand are able to. 
  • Cart page: It’s not uncommon for the cart page on an ecommerce website to have a higher than average bounce rate. Including an opt-in on this page will help your brand recapture lost sales due to cart abandonment while also growing your SMS list. 

Verb Energy makes it easy for visitors to quickly opt-in by including an SMS long-code in the website footer along with the brand’s contact information and social media links. 


Verb energy footer


Paid advertising acquisition

Paid advertising can be another highly-effective method for quickly building your SMS list, but it’s important that you create specific offers for your different audience segments. Targeting cold audiences with a giveaway offer is an excellent approach to capturing the attention of new customers that may not be familiar with your brand. Alternatively, targeting warm audiences with a traditional opt-in that emphasizes the opportunity to receive exclusive promotional discounts and offers. 

Customer service opt-ins

If you’re planning to use SMS for managing customer support requests, you may consider creating an opt-in form inviting visitors to text you their questions. In addition to your Contact Us and FAQ pages, it may be helpful to include an SMS opt-in on product pages or at any point throughout the customer journey that visitors could potentially need additional assistance. 

Verb Energy uses SMS to manage support questions, track orders, and provide general assistance to its customers. The brand’s ‘Help’ page includes a call to action that highlights how visitors can get quick access to a real customer service agent for help. 


Verb Energy Help page


Product packaging opt-ins

Another creative method for collecting opt-ins is including a message on your product packaging that motivates customers to sign-up. If you’re selling a product that’s likely to be reordered frequently, try placing the opt-in more prominently on your packaging to encourage loyal customers to engage with your brand. 

Alternatively you can include opt-in information that’s part of the unboxing experience, but not necessarily on the product packaging itself. Adding an opt-in message to your packaging insert or at the bottom of an order receipt could be a simple and effective way to collect additional subscribers.

Brand quizzes

A brand quiz is a great way to increase engagement and drive conversions on your website, but they can also be used as an effective method for growing your SMS list. At the end of your brand quiz, include a simple SMS opt-in that offers to send personalized product recommendations and discounts straight to their mobile device. Octane AI offers some great options for creating brand quizzes on Shopify sites that will get engagement from your visitors and encourage more opt-ins. 

What new and innovative opt-ins are DTC brands using?

With text marketing quickly becoming one of the most effective methods of engaging with consumers, brands are finding creative ways to use collect opt-ins that move beyond the basic “Text to Join” campaign. 

JUDY–a DTC brand that sells emergency-preparation kits–came up with a truly unique approach to motivate consumers to opt-in to their text communications. Rather than treating SMS as a vehicle to promote sales and special offers, this brand uses it to send location-specific emergency alerts to its customers, as well as provide tips and advice related to emergency preparedness. 



JUDY treats SMS like an additional product feature, and it creates a convincing offer that would have any customer excited to sign-up to receive their messages. This approach allows the brand to grow their SMS list while also positioning itself as a valuable resource for anyone that may be interested in receiving emergency updates and safety tips. 


Example of a JUDY text message


Olipop–a DTC soda company–leans on its thriving social media presence to help collect more SMS opt-ins. Instead of focusing on a discount as the leading offer, the brand details all of the benefits that accompany signing up. Recipients can chat directly with customer support, update their product subscriptions, track the status of orders, and receive exclusive product promotions. 

Olipop is building excitement without relying on a discount as the key motivator to opting-in. It’s a creative and effective approach to generating excitement around their text marketing initiative. 


Taking the First Step

The first step in growing your SMS list is understanding what incentive will work in motivating your audience to opt-in. The tactics we outlined above should all help you increase your SMS list once you’ve identified the offer that gets your audience eager to sign-up. Test each of these isolated suggestions to determine which ones work the best for your brand’s audience. Growing your SMS list is reliant on your ability to identify your customers’ ideal offer, as well as the platform they’re most likely to opt-in through. 

These tactics should give you a solid start and help you to overcome any barriers to collecting opt-ins in your checkout experience. 
If you’re seeking additional assistance in developing your SMS list, schedule a free consultation with our team so we can learn a bit more about your brand and how we can help improve the efficiency of your SMS marketing efforts.

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