8 Growth Strategies to Capture and Grow your SMS Subscribers

The best time to get your SMS marketing program off the ground is now. And it begins by building a solid audience that you can engage and nurture over text.

Text messaging is by no means new, but it still poses a largely untapped potential for online brands to reach out to their customers. If you still need a reason to jump on the SMS bandwagon, over 85% of customers have said that they prefer to communicate with their favorite brands over text messages.

Investing some time and effort into growing your SMS subscriber list really pays off before you can start engaging and nurturing a loyal fan base. But where should you start?

Here are the 5 common sources for SMS subscribers:

  • Website visitors from desktop and mobile devices
  • Existing SMS subscriber lists
  • Existing customers who haven't subscribed to your SMS program
  • Email subscribers
  • Checkouts
  • Anywhere along your omnichannel marketing strategy

Let's take apart some field-tested and actionable growth strategies to build your SMS subscriber list below— we'll be targeting these sources for SMS subscribers above.

8 Effective Growth Strategies to Build Your SMS Subscriber List

1. Capture Website Traffic with Popups

If you're already seeing consistent and healthy traffic on your website, don't let all of it go to waste. Start capturing your website visitors to immediately engage and nurture them into happy, returning customers.

SMS is a way to get your messages to your customers opened consistently. In fact, 90% of SMS messages are read within 3 minutes of getting delivered.

Popups are a great subscriber collection tool. When properly timed, an engaging popup:

  • Makes a lasting first impression with first-time visitors landing on your website
  • Catches your website visitor's attention at the perfect opportunity: while they're already on your website, scrolling, and looking for a sweet deal
  • Goes to work for you as the highest converting opt-in method for your SMS program
  • The perfect way to reach your browsers with a valuable incentive offer
  • Doesn't disrupt their customer experience on your store's website or cut the customer journey short
  • Converts website visitors — both from mobile and desktop to customers in a single click
  • Can sometimes prevent visitors from exiting your store's website altogether — and continue with their browsing

There are 3 important factors that you should take into consideration here. First, choose a responsive popup tool that grants you the flexibility of many awesome features such as customization.

It's important to make sure your popup stays "on brand" and blends seamlessly with the brand style of your store's website. Uploading your logos, adjusting font style, size, and colors— oh and, making sure it's mobile optimized.

The last thing you want is a clunky popup that's annoying and causes website traffic to bounce off your page.

Next, don't risk the hefty fines of non-compliance. You'll want to make sure that your popup tool automates SMS compliance for you by collecting phone numbers with your shoppers' consent. We'll touch on SMS compliance laws later on in this article.

Finally, graduate to an omnichannel approach this year by collecting both email and phone numbers to build your email and SMS subscriber lists in tandem— you don't have to compromise on your email capture or choose between two channels.

It's an important step this year to find out where and how your customers prefer to engage with your store and deliver on both!

Cartloop Popup feature ticks all these boxes and allows you to grow your SMS and email subscriber lists seamlessly, read the full feature here.

2. Boost SMS Opt-ins with Promotional Incentives

Popups are an exciting and highly effective tool for online brands that want to convert website visitors and first-time shoppers into SMS subscribers and loyal customers all in a single click.

The best way to grab your visitors' attention is to nudge them with an offer— because everyone loves a great deal. And we've got some ideas.

5 Promotional Incentive Ideas to Captivate, Appeal and Convert SMS subscribers

  • Newcomer Discounts

Offering first-time buyers a discount is a great way to instantly start a customer-brand relationship on the right foot and drive opt-ins.

  • Bundle Deals or a Welcome Gift

No discounts? Special subscriber-only bundles are a great way to highlight other products in your inventory aside from your bestsellers— and even get some slow-moving items going.

In some cases, it's just great to show new subscribers some appreciation by opting into your SMS list.

  • Staggered Discounts

This is a strategy that you can use, but sparingly. Let's say for example the maximum discount you can offer is 20%, you can start off by offering 10% on your popups.

Offer them 15% once they complete their first purchase and then only offer the full 20% discount if they either:

a) they meet a certain cart value or spend threshold, or

b) buy from you again (on their next purchase)

See what we did there? It's a great way to keep the momentum going with first-time buyers to build rapport and keep them coming back for more.

  • Free Shipping

This one's a simple but effective one: free shipping nationwide, worldwide, or free express shipping is a great incentive that shoppers simply love. And we can vouch that your shoppers would rather drop their shopping carts (like it's hot) than pay for shipping.

In fact, unexpected fees made the top 3 reasons for shopping cart abandonment based on over 500k text conversations with abandoned shoppers. Even if you can't offer to ship for free, be transparent about it or build your shipping costs into your product prices.

  • Prime them For Future benefit

Sometimes, it's not all about the money money money, shoppers respond really well to trust and authenticity too. You have to give them a good reason to subscribe to your brand.

Even if you can't offer discounts, useful and educational fun content can be enough to trigger their excitement and anticipate updates from you. So make sure you set the expectations firsthand and communicate clearly that'll you'll be sending them useful tips, inspo, and brand updates in the future if they subscribe.

Next step, let's focus on getting to know who your most valuable customers are— it's time to roll out the red carpet for your VIPs.

3. Treat New Subscribers Like VIPs

Repeat customers are likely to spend 33 percent more than first-time shoppers. Your VIPs are the most valuable customers your store needs to generate a stream of recurring revenue.

VIPs can be described as a highly excitable group of shoppers who have opted-in and purchased from your store recently and frequently.

Here's an effective strategy: you can combine building an SMS subscriber list and VIP list using website popups.

Here are some ways to build a solid VIP list:

  • You'll need to make your VIPs feel as if they're part of an exclusive community.
  • Celebrate their loyalty by giving them access to the biggest discounts, new product launches, and priority during major sales events.
  • Make the benefits clear that they're opting into a VIP list, and not the usual updates over email or text

The VIP list is a customer segment that all online brands need to build on because of the sheer force of sales potential that this group of shoppers represents.

Once the Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) sales roll in, it's good to know who your VIPs are to maximize the sales potential of eCommerce holiday seasons and skyrocket revenue.

Popup Optimization tips to create an on-brand first impression:

  1. A captivating headline
  2. An attractive offer
  3. A clear call to action
  4. Placement on your website's page
  5. Timing: We typically recommend for your pop-up to show after visitors have scrolled 60% of your website
  6. Matches your brand style, brand colors and typography
  7. Ensure you upload a high-quality version of your brand logo

Depending on what's your strategy looks like, you can even use text messaging as a VIP-only channel to gain a direct line and instant updates on exclusive offers, perks, and benefits. Just throwing some ideas around.

4.  Welcome Your New SMS Subscribers

Just like how welcome emails can drive up to 33% more returning customers, sending a welcome text once a person becomes your new subscriber ensures better long-term brand engagement.

It's the first crucial step of introducing yourself to your new leads and immediately sets the tone to:

  • Establish instant rapport to build brand loyalty
  • Set expectations on what you can offer them and how often you'll be texting them
  • Build up hype for future text messages they'll receive; having more customers who are excited to hear from your over SMS means lowered unsubscribe rates, higher open rates of future texts
  • Let them know they have a direct line to reach out to your brand if they need assistance

Here's a welcome text template you can use:

Welcome to {{ store_name }} text platform! ✨

Get 20% discount on your next order: {{ coupon }}.

Click here to shop {{ store_url }}.

Reply to speak to a real person.

5. Optimize your Checkout to Collect SMS Subscribers

Number 5 on our list is a breeze. When filling out their personal and shipping details to complete their purchase, providing their phone numbers is a natural step for customers.

You can leverage this by optimizing your checkout.  

Check out this quick 3-minute guide on how to set up a TCPA and CTIA-compliant way to collect more SMS subscribers at your checkouts.

Collecting checkout subscriptions is one of the lowest hanging fruit to grow your SMS subscriber list.

Interested to know more about what TCPA and CTIA mean in SMS compliance? We made a quick and nifty 10-step SMS compliance checklist here.

6. Use Emails to Increase SMS Opt-ins

Should your email and SMS subscriber lists be treated separately? Yes!

But before you think you've hit a dead-end, there's a silver lining here. Converting your email subscribers to SMS subscribers is as simple as sending a well-crafted email. And it helps to play the long game with email marketing.

Like a double opt-in when acquiring new subscribers, having your shoppers subscribed to receive both email and SMS ensures the quality of your subscribers to build long-term success.

The field-tested strategy of email marketing automation and the immediacy of SMS go hand in hand to craft a two-punch strategy that's hard to ignore and provokes an instantaneous response from your shopper.

SMS is a great channel to gain you an instant and direct audience with your shoppers in their personal space— their mobile phones.

It also spells great long-term benefits for your email marketing game, resulting in higher deliverability rates, lower unsubscribes, and higher open and click-through rates.

Okay, but what if I'm thinking of switching to another text messaging platform for my Shopify store? This brings us to our next item on the list.

7. Migrate Existing SMS Subscribers to a New Platform

So you're not new to the SMS marketing game, but you're looking for a new approach that can build stronger relationships with your customers and move past any old bulk SMS blast. We're with you on this.

The key focus for brands this year is to connect and deliver how customers want to interact with and experience their favorite brands—  gain that competitive edge with conversational text messaging 💬

Cartloop's conversational SMS marketing platform makes it seamless for you to migrate your existing SMS subscribers and start engaging with them right away using a more conversational approach.

Our team of SMS experts will be there to help you get started and make the transition as smooth as possible. Your subscriber details can be downloaded as a CSV (Comma Separated Values) file or a tab-delimited text file.

We help online brands who want to take the next natural step to take their SMS marketing program to the next level this year and forge stronger relationships with their SMS subscribers through 1:1 conversations.

Here's what our customers are saying:

Cartloop not only helps us recover a hefty amount of abandoned carts every month, but our shoppers also love speaking with a real person instead of being treated like a number with an automated response. I'm continuously impressed with how the Cartloop team goes the extra mile in their conversations with my shoppers and actually offers genuine value. If you're a brand looking to take your marketing to the next level, Cartloop is a no-brainer.

— Almasi Knives.

If you want to import your SMS subscribers to Cartloop, you can use this form to reach out to us anytime.

8.  Cross-promote and Invite SMS Opt-in Across Socials or Live Chat

The name of the game is cross-promotion. Informing your customers that they now have a direct line to get in touch with your brand for instant support is sure to stir up some attention.

No one really wants to read one-dimensional FAQs when they now have a bi-directional channel to reach out to you.

You can promote the launch of your new SMS marketing channel on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to shepherd traffic to your website and capture new SMS subscribers.

While popups and checkout optimization turn your website into a lead generation machine, you can also make it easy for your visitors to reach out with the "why" and capture their opt-in by inviting them to subscribe over Live chat.

One of the most important things you should focus on when attracting new SMS subscribers is crafting "The Why".

Here's how you can effectively communicate the benefits of subscribing to receive texts from your brand:

  • Prime your subscribers by telling them what exclusive opportunities, deals, and updates they can expect to receive over SMS
  • Convey the benefit of how texting can open up new avenues for them to reach your brand directly in a 1:1 conversation for instant support, product recommendations, and technical information.
  • Incentivize. Like what we covered in Strategy #2 above, make sure to include a strong, single CTA for them to sign up and engage with your brand on another channel.

For shoppers, it offers them a seamless customer experience when they shop with you, and it brings the in-store experience online.

Wrap Up: Start Growing Your SMS Subscribers

You're probably a pro by now at capturing and growing your SMS subscriber list. Our main takeaway is this, don't just focus on the numbers on your SMS subscriber list.

Growing an engaged and healthy subscriber list means balancing driving opt-ins and delivering on your promise to provide your future SMS subscribers with value consistently. The next step is easy, you can start engaging with them over 1:1 text conversations and humanized shopping experiences.

Let's recap:

  1. Capture website traffic with popups
  2. Boost SMS opt-ins with promotional incentives
  3. Treat new subscribers like VIPs
  4. Engage: Welcome your new SMS subscribers
  5. Optimize your checkout to collect SMS subscribers
  6. Use emails to convert email subscribers
  7. Migrate existing SMS subscribers to your new conversational SMS platform
  8. Cross-promote SMS opt-ins on other channels like social media

Excited to try out these strategies and start texting your SMS subscribers? Request a demo with us or try it out for yourselves today with our unlimited free trial— the first 14 days are on us.

Jun-Li is a content person at Cartloop. When she's not writing a blog article, you can find her collecting a new hobby or doing yoga.

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