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Using SMS to increase email list size

A case study of boosting offline email signups 3.3x with SMS

Increasing the number of customer touch points used to ask for an email address is a good start to accelerating email list growth.

However, the way in which the email address is requested makes a big difference to how fast your list grows. Its not just the copy and incentive, as are commonly considered, but the process too and for offline data collection the response channel.

In this case providing customers the ability to subscribe by sending their email address using SMS delivered 3.3x more email addresses than simply advertising a web signup link.

Remarkable given that the vast majority of brands simply give a URL in offline advertising, posters and other media.

Zettasphere worked with Deal Monster to put to the test the signup method. Deal Monster are part of the Johnson press group, so it made sense for Deal Monster to place Ads in their local newspaper properties.

Two different Ads were run multiple times over a period of weeks in one local newspaper. One Ad offered a signup link and the other invited readers to signup by simply texting their email address.

This is a typical Ad with the web signup link:

Typical offline web link call to action

The SMS Ads were the same format but with the call to action changed to "text DEAL and your email address to 84101" as show here:

SMS-2-Subscribe grows email lists faster

In both cases the same incentive of an additional £5 off was provided to ensure readers used the response channel being advertised.

As soon as readers sent an SMS an instant email is sent back to welcome new subscribers and provide them the £5 discount promised.

The results were clear, SMS generated 3.3 times more signups than printing a web link.

The immediacy and ease of using SMS are key to the success. Time and time again I see that making processes simpler, faster and more immediate improves conversion.

You may not belong to a group that publishes newspapers but consider other offline touch points you do have and could use for SMS-2-Subscribe

  • At point of sale, print on receipts or with posters
  • Posters in waiting areas
  • Exhibitions
  • Auditoriums and live screens
  • Print materials

Try thinking outside of the box, for example, South West airlines used advertising in baggage reclaim areas and SMS-2-subscribe calls to action on their complimentary peanut packets and napkins that are given to all passengers.

By Tim Watson

Tim Watson, from consultancy Zettasphere, is the Smart Insights expert commentator on email marketing. He is an independent email marketing consultant providing strategic guidance, to deliver improved campaign results. A member of the DMA Email Council and chair of the DMA Email Best Practice hub. He actively promotes email and frequently speaks on the subject and how to improve use of the channel. Connect with Tim via LinkedIn or Twitter.

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