19 June 2013

How To Grow A Strong Mobile Opt-In List

by Triin Linamagi

Text messaging is really starting to shake the marketing tree. It’s direct, it’s instant and you have a far higher probability that your recipient will not only read but also respond to your message.

However, bombarding those who don’t want SMS marketing on their phone is a good way to lose customers, so in the same way that email marketing requires consumer’s permission, text message marketing requires you to ask your customers first before you can send out text messages.

So building an opt-in list is a must. But this alone is not enough for successful text message marketing. You must also grow the list and learn about your customers to send specific, personalised messages to different target groups based on their interests. You should also not forget that opt-ins expire!

When doing it right, your list should be growing and the campaigns are more successful.

Methods to grow your opt-in list

To get started, you should gather opt-in numbers. You can do it online, via email, in-store, television, via print and radio channels.

1. Online/Email

It doesn’t matter if you are asking people to text in your keyword or use a sign-up widget – the Internet can increase your contact list quickly and easily. If you already have an email list then utilise that too, to find out if they would like to be added to your text message service. Offer an incentive to join (such as a voucher) and you can build an opt-in list very quickly, making this system a great way to communicate with both existing and potential customers.

If you are using a sign-up widget, then this too is an ideal opportunity to incentivize your customers with a deal that would benefit them. Remember, the customer will always ask: “What’s in it for me?” so give them a good reason to opt in.

2. In-store

A bit of ‘face time’ with your customers is also an ideal opportunity to encourage them to opt in to receive discounts and special offers. If you’re working in-store then it also presents your company with a more ‘human face’, and subsequently they are more likely to opt in.

If you have a website you can also encourage customers to complete the form and point out that by adding a mobile number to their profile, they can receive important messages and deals from your ‘real world’ shop as well as your online store.

3. Radio

Don’t underestimate the power of radio. If you are advertising on the radio, use it to maximum advantage by adding a CTA that promotes texting. Give listeners a keyword or short code that they can then text to a number to get more information or a special offer.

4. Outdoor advertising

If they’re positioned correctly, billboards have the potential to reach a lot of customers and are an effective method of raising brand awareness. Adding a CTA that includes a simple text messaging element can seriously boost the effectiveness of a billboard advertising campaign.

5. Social Media

The popularity of Facebook and Twitter is a fantastic chance for businesses to really crank up their SMS campaigns and get more people to opt in. Web widgets are extremely effective in building subscribers, but it’s time you got your followers to do a little proactive engagement! Give them a keyword or code and get them to text it to opt into your contact list. But remember, they’ll need an incentive to do so. Make sure that there’s always ‘something in it for them’.

6. Newsletters

If you are sending out newsletters you can give people that exclusive keyword that encourages them to text into your opt-in list to get the latest news from your company.

7. Contests

This is the ultimate in incentivizing your customers. A chance to win something is a great way to build customer loyalty and to generate a buzz about a new project. But remember, they can only enter the contest if they opt in, so as a marketing concept it’s also got long-term ‘legs’ too.

Personalize your message

Mobile messaging is permission based, and there is a very personal link between the brand and the customer. So it’s a wise marketing manager who uses text messaging in a responsible manner.
When gathering the information from customers you can also get additional details that you can utilise later.

For example when a customer signs up for a newsletter, you can give them choices about which topics they might be interested in and which they’d like to know more about. Based on their response you can later send personalised newsletters to different groups about the relevant topics they signed up for, thus customizing your opt in lists and targeting specific demographics.

Alternatively, you can offer different types of services or products, and then allow the customer to choose the one they are interested in. You then send offers and promotions to this group about specific service or product they have chosen. That way you make sure that your customer will keep on reacting to your campaigns and will not opt out and you will have more higher campaign response rates.

The biggest reason that customers give for opting out is usually that they have been bombarded with irrelevant topics and promotions that don’t interest them. Don’t make the same mistake.
In case you customer does opt out, it would be wise to review your lists occasionally and make sure if they are still active and loyal customers for these specific services they signed up for in the beginning.

Don’t forget that Opt-ins expire!

Opted-in text message subscriptions automatically expire after a certain period of inactivity. So if you have not sent a message to your mobile database within a certain period of time then the campaign will be considered to be inactive. Subscribers will not be able to receive or respond to messages, and will most likely forget about the subscription and – consequently – your business!

So keep it active, and keep a close eye on expiry points. For most standard campaigns that do not charge a fee other than the standard data and message charges, opt ins expire after 18 months. However, for premium rate campaigns, the expiry date is usually just six months, so be ready to remind customers who are coming up to their expiry date to re-sign to ensure they are included in special offers for another six months.

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