How to Collect Phone Numbers for SMS Marketing Campaigns

Dikran Seferian
Dikran SeferianContent Writer

Published: Sep 10, 2019

Updated: Sep 3, 2023

Collecting Phone Numbers

You finally decided to use text messaging for your campaigns, but you’re not quite sure how to collect phone numbers for SMS marketing. We totally get it—it’s overwhelming and even tedious. But, if you ask us, the results are worthwhile.

Text message marketing facilitates business development, increases sales, and helps build brand loyalty. Not to mention, no other channel provides customer engagement at the same level as text marketing. 

If you want to reap the benefits of business messaging and grow your business, you have to start collecting phone numbers today. Read on to learn all you need to know about collecting phone numbers for SMS marketing campaigns.

What To Know Before Collecting Cell Phone Numbers

Knowing how to get customers’ phone numbers means understanding what it entails and what approaches you can take. Here’s what you need to account for before you get started on your SMS campaigns:

Why You Shouldn’t Buy Contact Lists

Prior to starting your hunt for marketing phone numbers, there are a couple of things you should know. First and foremost, no matter how tempting it is to buy phone numbers for marketing, avoid doing so at all costs. While the purchase itself is legal, it doesn’t give you explicit permission to text people. As a matter of fact, sending text messages to customers who have not opted into your campaign is illegal in most countries and subject to heavy monetary fines.

Text Message Opt-Ins

Besides the legal implications, sending unsolicited marketing messages to people can and will stain the reputation of your company. Any further communication from that point on—regardless of whether or not you have their consent—will be viewed as spam. That is pretty hard to recover from and will render all your future SMS communication and marketing efforts useless.

SMS marketing is the most efficient communication channel, and reaching people on their cell phones is half the work. Unlike other marketing channels, you need people’s written consent to send them promotional text messages. Get acquainted with the laws regarding SMS marketing in your jurisdiction to avoid committing anything illegal. Take your time to read about anti-spam policies and best practices for optimal results.

Using Keywords and Short Codes

Encourage customers to opt in to your marketing campaign by sending messages with a designated keyword to your company’s short code. Keywords have to be easy to remember as well as relevant to your company.

People are exposed to all kinds of information on a daily basis. This means that even the most interested customers can forget your keyword to subscribe to your text messaging campaigns. Creating a memorable keyword is one way to make sure that it will stick around.

If you want people to subscribe to your campaign, you’ll want to get the word out about your product or service via email marketing or other methods. This means advertising your keyword everywhere to get as much exposure as possible. You can do this on your company website, social media accounts, email newsletters, or even by just asking in person.

Irrespective of where you intend to advertise your keyword, you must prominently display it alongside a call to action to attract new subscribers.

Provide Incentives for Signing Up

Do you want people to opt in to your campaign willingly? Provide them with incentives to do so. People realize their mobile phone numbers are valuable information, which is why you have to create a reason for them to willingly share their mobile number and contact information. Whether you do it through exclusive perks or discounts, people should know that they get something out of subscribing to your SMS campaign.

Common Ways to Start Collecting Phone Numbers for Text Marketing

Collecting mobile numbers essentially involves getting your target audience to opt in to receive SMS messages from you, and there are numerous ways to do so. Here’s how to get mobile numbers for marketing purposes:

1. Create an Opt-In Form on Your Website

Texting a keyword to subscribe to an SMS campaign is the most popular way to add phone numbers to marketing lists. But a good alternative is having people opt in through a sign-up form directly from your website. This makes the process easy in addition to giving potential customers more options for subscribing.

2. Include Text Contests in Your Marketing Strategy

Everybody knows that SMS has the highest open rate of all communication channels. What's more, the easiest way to collect a list of cell phone numbers for marketing is by hosting text contests. 

Create a contest with a desirable prize, ask people for their phone numbers, tell them to text to enter and earn sweepstakes. Not only does your list of SMS subscribers expand, but you also spread brand awareness and increase customer engagement.

3. Add SMS Messaging CTAs to Email Marketing Campaigns

If you have a solid email marketing list, you can use the channel to collect phone numbers for SMS. This is a great way to build up an SMS list since your email subscribers are already interested in your products or services. Sweeten the deal with an exciting offer in your email campaigns.

Send messages about the additional perks they can benefit from by providing their phone number. These can be exclusive discounts, first dibs on new releases, or even a free drink on their birthdays.

4. Design QR Codes for Opt-Ins

Besides menus, websites, and instructions, you can use QR codes for SMS opt-ins as well. Customers simply scan the QR code, which automatically signs them up to receive SMS marketing campaigns. The QR code connects to a pre-set SMS message containing your keyword and short code that opens in the customer’s texting app. Once they scan the code, all they have to do is tap "Send,” and voila. 

5. Create a Compelling VIP Offer Popup

Create an offer popup on your website inviting people to join a VIP or a loyalty program by subscribing with their mobile numbers. Make sure the program offers tangible rewards like exclusive deals, occasional coupons, and early access to new products. The idea is to provide value and make the members feel as though they’re receiving special treatment. 

6. Use Your Social Media Channels to Get People to Subscribe

Are you active on social media? If yes, you can leverage channels like Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok to gather opt-ins. One method is to include an opt-in CTA—preferably with a discount offer—in your TikTok or Instagram bio. You can also post the CTA on your reels, stories, and live broadcasts to really get the word out. 

What to Do Once You Have Your SMS Marketing List

Now that you have your list of marketing phone numbers, there are several measures you should consider taking. These include:

Delivering an Opt-In Confirmation Text

Send a confirmation text once you receive an opt-in, thanking the subscriber for joining your SMS list. You can then start sharing promotional messages with them. 

Differentiating Between SMS and Email Content

Text message content needs to be short and to the point, making it ideal for quick offers and updates. Email allows for longer content, like newsletters and detailed product descriptions.

Sending a Compelling Offer

Besides getting people to subscribe, you’ll also want them to actually buy your products or services. Give them an incentive to engage by sending an SMS offer in the form of a discount or a special deal. 

Ending List-Building Campaigns for Existing Subscribers

You don’t need to send list-building campaigns to those who already opted in. Instead, focus on sharing valuable content that helps boost engagement.

Using “Next Order” Messaging for Repeat Customers

Deliver personalized messages acknowledging the previous purchases of returning customers. This helps keep existing customers engaged and drives repeat business.

Tips for Collecting Phone Numbers

A marketing list can prove to be a gold mine if you know how to make the most of it and how to handle it properly. This involves:

  • Offering perks for opting in: Reward people who join your list by offering benefits like a special discount or an exciting deal

  • Creating a loyalty program for exclusive deals: Set up a loyalty program for subscribers, treating them with exclusive deals, additional discounts, and early access to new products

  • Considering a double opt-in process: When a customer initially subscribes, send a message asking them to confirm their opt-in by texting a keyword like “YES” or replying

  • Providing opt-out options: Make sure to provide simple opt-out instructions in your welcome messages or promotional campaigns

  • Being mindful of legal aspects: Be aware of text marketing regulations like the TCPA or the GDPR, so you stay compliant while texting customers or handling more data