When it comes to launching a marketing campaign everyone knows they need a message and an audience. They understand that whatever they put out there needs to be relevant to their audience, and that audience needs to be interested and engaged if campaigns are to be successful. SMS campaigns are no different. You need to have a relevant message or offer and an interested audience – that means a good quality opted in list of contacts. Notice the use of ‘opt in’ – it’s very important. If you’re going to use SMS marketing you need to stay within the law!

Why do people need to opt-in?

It is a requirement by law to ask recipients for their permission to receive information from you before you send them anything. The Mobile Marketing Association states that “mobile marketers must respect the right of the user to control which messages they receive. Users must opt in to programs via SMS, MMS, website registration and other legitimate methods. If a user opts in to only one program, marketers cannot send messages for another program” 

It’s common sense really when you think about it. How do you feel when you receive unsolicited texts? Most people aren’t too happy when it happens and you wouldn’t want people to feel that way about your brand would you?. One of the strengths of digital marketing is that it allows you to target the right people for your communications. With SMS marketing, that starts with building a strong opt-in list.

How do I build an SMS opt-in list?

At this point, do I need to say that buying lists is far from being best practice? There are still many companies out there that will try to sell you contact lists of people you know nothing about (and who know nothing about you!). The response rates from bought lists are extremely low which doesn’t bode well for a successful campaign. The people on those lists have not expressed an interest in your business specifically, so it stands to reason they wouldn’t be too interested in what you have to say – there is no reason for them to respond. Worse still, they may report you for sending spam messages.

In addition, while it may appear to be a quick and easy option, buying a list can create all sorts of issues and could land you in more serious trouble. Often the information is outdated by the time it’s got to you which means you have to ‘clean it’ before using it and you have no guarantee that the details on that list were obtained within the regulations.

So if you want to be sure you are operating within the law and also want an engaged audience that are interested in what you have to say and offer, you need to build your own list.


A simple way to begin the lits-building process.

Building you own list can seem like hard work and whilst it’s not always as quick as you’d like, it can be easy and is far better for your long term strategy. It all starts with giving people a reason to opt in to your list. They need an incentive.

Decide on your offer; is it a service, voucher, contest, treatment or free food and drink? Then decide on your message and the text you want users to send to

  1. Claim their offer
  2. Opt In to your service

You can do this easily using a keyword and short text number, e.g. text Pizza to 60007 to get your Free Pizza voucher and opt in to receive other offers

I’m sure you already have plenty of ideas to come up with the right incentive – remember, it has to be relevant to your audience. Now you need to take full advantage of your overall marketing channels to promote your offer and start building your opt-in list!

6 Ideas


Use the door, the wall, the windows of your office or your store to put signs intructing your customers how to opt-in for your great offer! Include your keyword and your short code on the menu of your restaurant, on your business card, on the receipts of your salon… Anywhere your customers will see it.


Email addresses are easier to collect than phone numbers. Do you already have an email contact list, maybe you have a newsletter? Use it to send your offer. As your contacts already opted-in to receive information from you, they are more likely to want to hear from you on their phone.

Social media

Here again, your followers on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media are already engaged with you. Post your short code and keyword on social media and encourage your follower to text it back and to share it with their network.


Include a clear call to action on your website and your blog to promote your SMS campaign. Remember, if you want your data collection to be efficient, your incentive need to have a great value and the form on the page should not be obtrusive so that your target would easily opt-in.

Radio/ TV advertising

Although not every business uses these channels, they can be very efficient to promote an SMS campaign. Add a call to action to your ad instructing to text your keyword to your short code to get more information on a special offer.

Billboard advertising

Billboards are great to reach a large audience. A good strategy would be to organise a contest, offering a very valuable price to the winner.


If you want more tips to grow your business with SMS, we’ve gathered 10 smart Mobile Messaging ideas that will help you acquire and retain more customers that ever.

Can You Outsmart Competition WSI

If you’re not yet using any form of Text Marketing but think it sounds interesting then we can offer a 3 month, no strings Free Trial of our corporate account. Only pay for the texts you send and explore the powerful platform offered in this as yet underused Marketing avenue.


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