How to grow your bulk SMS database

To get the most from SMS marketing, you need numbers. Mobile phone numbers, that is. Not sure where to start in collecting them? Read on for some ideas.

Amanda Ranville - January 17, 2022

Ask any marketer worth their salt what the secret to success is, and they’ll likely answer, “Lists”. Your mailing list. Your email database. And, today more than ever before, your SMS database. 

To get the most from SMS marketing campaigns, your top priority is to build a quality contact list to send your bulk text messages to. Note the word, ‘quality’. There’s no point in collecting a long list of numbers if half of them aren’t your target demographic.

With this in mind, forget buying a list of numbers (who even does that, anyway?). Instead, take this proven route to growing your bulk SMS database.

1. Start with what you’ve got already

Before you do anything else, take a look at the information you’ve got now. Whether you’re using a spreadsheet, a CRM, or a shoebox (yikes), you’ve likely got a list of customers and their contact details somewhere in the business. Find it, clean it up, and use it as your starting point for growing a great SMS database. 

One word of caution here. Depending on how you collected this customer information, your customers might not want to receive text messages from you. If they’ve already subscribed to other programs you run, then you’re likely to be OK — this is what’s called ‘inferred consent’. But if you’re not sure, then the safest thing to do is reach out to them and double-check they’re keen to opt-in.

2. Make it easy to opt-in to SMS

Think about all the places where your customers are likely to interact with your brand. Your online store, for example. The reception desk at your gym, perhaps? Wherever your customers are, give them the ability to opt-in to your SMS messages.

Don’t forget to make it clear why they’d want to get messages from you! Depending on your business, it could be that you send out special offers, daily tips, or product alerts via SMS.

An opt-in check-box on a website:

[  ] Yes, please, I’d like to receive special offers and updates via SMS

3. Dangle a carrot

Some customers need a little … dare we say it … bribery. Give them an incentive to opt-in to your SMS member list. This could be a discount off their first order, a free trial or demo, or an exclusive invitation to a members-only sale.

You could consider running a social media campaign with a prize up for grabs. To set up a text-in competition, you simply provide a dedicated mobile number for customers to send a message to, and then promote it across all your social channels.

4. Reach out via email

Chances are, you’ve already got a solid email marketing database. After all, email has been around a while and remains a popular channel for engaging with brands.

Reach out to your customers via email and encourage them to opt-in to SMS, too. As above, explain why they’d want to — you could also make it clear when and why you’d be sending SMS, so they don’t stress out about being inundated with messages from you.

5. Give them a good reason to stick around

You’ve done the work in enticing customers to opt-in to SMS. Now, it’s time to make sure they don’t opt out. To retain a loyal list of customers on your mobile number database, make sure every message you send is helpful or gives them value.

If you’re sending promotional text messages, don’t forget to always give customers the option of opting out, by either including ‘Reply STOP to opt-out’ in the message or adding an unsubscribe link.

Need some inspiration? Check out our article on best practice examples of different types of text messages.

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