Back to all blog posts
SMS List Growth: How to Acquire SMS Subscribers
SMS Marketing Best Practices

SMS List Growth: How to Acquire SMS Subscribers

The faster you build your subscriber list, the quicker the path to delighting customers and building brand loyalty. So, here are the best methods for placing seamless SMS opt-in opportunities throughout your customer journey.

May 18, 2022

SMS will cut through the noise and get your marketing messages straight into the hands of your customers. With a 98% open rate and customers wanting texts from businesses (a study showed 91% of customers are interested in signing up for texts, and while nearly all customers surveyed said they would sign up to receive texts from brands, over half of them had already done so) SMS is now vital for any eCommerce brand. 

One of the first steps to building out a killer SMS program is growing your SMS subscriber list. 

The faster you build your subscriber list, the quicker the path to delighting customers and building brand loyalty. In this post, we’ll cover methods of how to grow your list and how to do so compliantly. 

Compliance When Growing Your SMS List 

At Voyage, we view compliance as an opportunity to build quality brand relations and enhance your customer’s long-term experience.

Rules from trade organizations like the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA), federal legislation such as the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), and government entities like the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) help companies navigate the intimacy of SMS.

For growing your SMS list, you’ll want to focus on two main factors: 

1. Obtain Express Written Consent

The FCC puts it simply: “For commercial texts, your consent must be in writing.”

No consumer should be confused about a message they receive from a brand or company. They should have explicitly opted into SMS marketing alerts with their express written consent. 

2. Be Transparent and Explain Opting in 

Per the CTIA, companies planning recurring SMS eCommerce campaigns should “provide Consumers with a confirmation message that clearly informs the Consumer they are enrolled in the recurring message campaign and provides a clear and conspicuous description of how to opt-out.”

This confirmation should provide details on the product or service, the frequency of messaging, information on associated fees and charges, and contact information for customer care.

By setting correspondence expectations around frequency and content types within your opt-in campaign messaging, your new subscribers know what they are opting in to and will ultimately reduce churn. 

SMS List Growth Best Practices 

Here are the best methods for placing seamless SMS opt-in opportunities throughout your customer journey: 


A Modal is a pop-up window that draws a user’s attention to specific text or images, used in this context to ask for a customer’s email or phone number. It is common practice for eCommerce brands to have a welcome Modal on their website for new visitors, including a discount or special offer to incentivize them to subscribe to their marketing list.

There are two types of modal windows — user-initiated and system-initiated. User-initiated modals are designed to appear on your site when a user triggers them with their actions. Often this is based on a specific click path, page depth, or time on site. System-initiated modals are triggered based on backend system settings and not on user action, which can interrupt a user’s current task if not effectively deployed.

To drive conversions with your modals, focus on delivering the best modal experience, keeping the end-user in mind, and making your modal as delightful and beneficial to the visitor as possible.

🔎 Explore our full list of Modal best practices


Keywords are all about creating a fun, memorable experience as your potential customer opts into SMS messages. Personalize your messaging instead of asking your customers to text a boring “HELLO to 555-555”. If you run a purse and accessory site, ask them to text “SECURE THE BAG to 555-555.” Remember - engage, convert, delight.

  1. Make it memorable: Keep the keyword simple and relevant to the product or event.
  2. Be creatively simple: Be unique… but not too unique. SMS keywords should be easy to spell and remember.
  3. Plan for autocorrect: Setup commonly autocorrected words within your campaign, and avoid words that are autocorrected all the ducking time.
  4. Avoid special characters: Avoid frustrating your customers with special characters. Instead, stick to the keywords that only require the basic keyboard characters.

Promotion on Your Other Channels

Promoting SMS on your other channels, such as social or email, is a great way to grow your SMS list with people who are already your fans. Your fans + 98% open rates = loyal customers and repeat revenue. 

SMS partners, like Voyage, can make it easy to convert your social followers to SMS subscribers with Voyage Deep Link. When your customer clicks a Voyage Deep Link on their mobile device, a text message automatically opens that allows them to opt-in to your SMS list, so all the customer has to do is click Send.

At Checkout 

By adding SMS opt-ins to the natural flow of your checkout forms, you can reach high conversion rates for your SMS list. Your customers are already in the mode of filling out information and saying “yes” to you and your brand. 

And don’t forget to implement: 

Opt-In Offer

Discounts are not appropriate for every brand, and they are also not always required for an effective offer. 

Brands looking to incentivize opt-ins should provide something of value to the user. The majority of successful opt-in offers use a 10-20% discount off their purchase. 

Opt-In Flow

List building doesn’t end when someone signs up. Customer experience is everything.

Build fully customized opt-in flows for each sign-up source – on the website, in a store, on the packaging – and direct customers to specific offers and landing pages.

SMS Subscriber Segmentation

Now that you have grown your SMS subscriber list, you can engage customers with perfectly crafted marketing messages. To use this intimate marketing channel effectively, you need to segment your SMS subscribers. 

You probably wouldn’t send the same text messages to your grandma as you would to your best friend group chat. “No Grandma, LOL does not mean lots of love.”

Always stay loyal to your brand’s positioning and messaging, of course. Within those parameters, however, you should be segmenting your subscribers to deliver the content and deals that most appeal to them. 

How to Segmentation SMS Lists

  • Purchase history: Has a Customer bought five sweaters from your site? Send them the preview campaign for the next sweater drop, or send them recommendations for some pants that’ll go great with their recent closet additions.
  • Past purchasers vs non-purchasers: Stoke the brand love with targeted segmenting for past purchases - show them some love with Thank You messages and We Miss You’s. Drive conversions of non-purchasers with Join the Family messages and offers. 
  • Engagement rates: Segmenting by engagement rate allows you to tailor campaigns and special offers to encourage your dormant subscribers to come back to life, and offer special deals to your repeat customers.
  • High-intent: Target your highest engaged subscribers with campaigns to help drive conversions. Offer up special or exclusive previews to stoke customer delight.  
  • Geographical location: Tailor your messaging based on region-specific deals, weather, seasons, events, etc.
  • Loyalty or VIP status: Recurring customers provide you the most Life-Time Value (LTV). Reward their loyalty with special offers and exclusive product/service drops.

Engage, Convert, and Delight With SMS

SMS is an incredible marketing channel that allows brands to foster thoughtful, authentic interactions with customers and build community. When brands seamlessly grow their SMS list and interact intentionally with customers through segmentation, they can achieve sustainable and continuous customer engagement and ROI.

SMS list growth is just one of the topics we cover in our new guide—The Definitive SMS Marketing Guide. In the guide, we cover everything about SMS, from the optimal candidate for managing your program to setting up a successful acquisition channel, all the way through benchmarks, best practices, and stellar campaign examples.

To learn more about SMS best practices and more, download the Definitive SMS Marketing Guide today! 

get updates to your inbox

Subscribe to the Newsletter

Never miss an update from Voyage. We'll send you the latest and greatest in SMS marketing, message commerce, and more.

Thank you! You are now subscribed!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
By subscribing to our newsletter, you agree to our terms and that you have read our Privacy Policy.