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Chapter 3:
Grow your list with inbound marketing


By now you should know the benefits of SMS. However, you may be wondering how you can use it to connect with your audience. The most common question that we receive is, “How do I build a list?”

Like an email list, you’ll need to get your customers to give you permission before you can contact them.

Generally speaking, you can receive permission by having customers:

  1. Opt-in via text by sending an SMS to your virtual number or shortcode
  2. Sign-up from a website with a permission check box. This tick box should also not be pre-selected
  3. If someone completes an offline form such as a survey, competition, or web enquiry. If you do choose this method, you should make it clear that you will be contacting them by SMS.
  4. Customers who have made a purchase from you within the last 2 years
  5. If someone gives you their business card, and you have explicitly asked for permission to add them to your list. If they dropped their business card in a fishbowl at a trade show, there must be a sign indicating they will be contacted by SMS about that specific topic.

In this guide, we’ll specifically go over how to get your customers to opt-in to your SMS list via text messaging.

Create an irresistible offer

In marketing, an irresistible offer (also known as a lead magnet) is anything that your ideal customer will find valuable. You’re going to offer it (usually for free) in exchange for their mobile number. 

Start by thinking of your ideal customer’s greatest needs, wants, and desires. Depending on your type of business, an irresistible offer can be:

  • Free content: This includes ebooks, reports, templates, e-courses and guides (like this one).
  • A prize giveaway: Contests with great prizes can be fairly simple to set up and promote. It should be something that’s related to your business or industry.
  • A discount: Everyone loves a good deal when they see one. This works well for retail or ecommerce businesses.

Whatever you decide, it should:

  • Address a very specific problem or type of customer
  • Be exclusive and time-sensitive
  • Be very easy to use
  • Be perceived as and actually high in value

The first point is very important. By targeting a specific problem or type of customer, you’re going to have a much easier time coming up with an offer and marketing strategy, which will give you much better results in the end.

Set up SMS keywords and a shortcode/dedicated virtual number

If you’re planning on letting your customers opt-in via text message, you’ll need a SMS platform like Burst.

All your customers need to do is SMS a keyword to a dedicated virtual number or shortcode.

SMS keywords can be used as a simple tool to allow your customers to opt-in to your lists. They act as a prompt for replies and can activate different functions, which include entering a competition, forwarding to an email, group chat, and sending an auto response. 

For example, an SMS keyword can be “coffee”. When they send a SMS message, they can text it to a shortcode (e.g. 123456) or dedicated virtual number (e.g. +61 459 333 4444). An auto response will be sent with more information on how to collect their free gift.

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If you’re keen on learning more, try our SMS keyword demo by texting 0459 333 444 with one of the following keywords: map, deal, video, app, win, or brad.

Driving traffic to your offer

Now that you’re all set up with an offer and an SMS platform, you’ll need to decide on how to promote it. Depending on your type of business, you might:

  • Send an email blast
  • Post on social media
  • Add banners on your website
  • Advertise on traditional media (newspapers, magazines, television)
  • Advertise online through Google and Facebook
  • Create in-store posters

To give you a better idea of what this might look like and to help you get started, we’ve compiled a few real-world examples.

Domino’s Pizza

Domino’s Pizza integrated SMS into their online ordering system. Customers are asked for their phone numbers when they sign up and order for the first time.

The next time they decide to order, they can text a pizza emoticon or “Pizza” to place their most recent order again. 



In this example, Saks asks their customers to opt-in to the SMS list by providing a chance to win a $1500 gift card and to be the first to learn about their upcoming sales and exclusive offers on their website.



GameStop uses a Facebook post to entice customers to sign up for their SMS list. In this example, they’re giving away membership points and promising special alerts and exclusive offers in the future.


If you’re interested in seeing more, check out this blog post.