The Beginner's Guide to SMS Marketing: Converting Your Audience

Every interaction with audiences matters, and SMS marketing has emerged as a powerful and personal channel to connect with your audience. Unlike other marketing platforms, building an SMS following offers a direct and immediate means of engagement. This guide will walk you through growing your SMS audience from the ground up, equipping you with the knowledge you need to succeed. From building your subscribers to sending messages that resonate, to analyzing performance, we will explore every facet of SMS marketing that enables you to establish a strong and engaged following. Let's embark on this journey to harness the full potential of SMS marketing and cultivate a loyal and engaged audience.

Define Your SMS Marketing Goals

Determine Your SMS Marketing Goals

An SMS channel isn’t like a baseball field in Iowa. People will come if they know where to find you. Before you dive into the world of SMS, it's essential to outline your goals, strategies, and key performance indicators. Here's how to make a plan that sets you on the path to SMS success:

  • Define Your Objective: Identify what you’re looking to achieve with your SMS channel. Are you looking to boost sales, increase website traffic, enhance audience engagement, or simply raise brand awareness? Defining your objectives will guide your channel's direction.
  • Develop a Content Calendar: Consistency is key with SMS. Plan ahead if you can and make a content calendar that outlines the timing and content of your messages. You don’t need to dedicate hours and hours to running your channel, just a few minutes every day.
  • Decide to Track Progress: Define your KPIs, get familiar with the dashboard, and set a time to review your progress periodically.

Audience Conversion Playbook

When aiming to convert your most loyal fans into SMS subscribers, tailoring your promotion to each medium is crucial. The Subtext platform provides you with an array of features to drive subscriptions. Below we’ll talk you through best practices based on where your audience lives.

Convert Website Visitors

Website conversion - an embed in an article

Converting your website visitors to SMS subscribers is easier than you think. Below we go into the top tactics we’ve seen drive subscriptions for Subtext users.

  • Embed Sign-Up Module: Each Subtext SMS channel is given a customizable sign-up module that you can embed onto any existing landing page. This has proven to be one of the simplest and most effective growth channels.
  • Launch Articles: Announce your new text channel by writing a launch article! Let your website visitors know you have a new way to engage with them and make it easy for them to subscribe by embedding the sign-up module within it.
  • Banner on Website: Utilize your website’s banner ads to promote your new product offering with a CTA that drives them to your launch article.
  • Add SMS to an Existing Subscription Offering: Give your audience more value by offering them an exclusive SMS channel in their existing subscription bundle. Utilize the Subtext API to automatically subscribe your current audience to your new SMS channel.
Convert Newsletter Subscribers

Newsletter - a subject line announcement-1

Do you already have a newsletter audience? If so, that’s a perfect place to promote your new text service. Texting isn’t just a shorter newsletter, but a fresh channel to engage readers who want to hear from you, but are fed up with inbox clutter. USA Today’s Short List Elections campaign covered the 2020 presidential election from the beginning of the debate through the inauguration. This spinoff campaign grew USA Today’s SMS audience by 5x in relation to the news organization’s daily headlines campaign of the same name.

  • Button Link to Landing Page: A large button with an engaging CTA that goes straight to the sign-up page for your SMS channel is an easy and effective way for your newsletter audience to sign up for your channel.
  • Keyword Sign-Up: Giving your audience a specific keyword to text your SMS number is an easy way to convert your audience.
Convert Social Media Followers

Social media - a feed post

Promote your SMS campaign through your existing social media accounts to convert your most engaged followers into SMS subscribers. Let's talk through some standard best practices.

  • Feed Posts: This might sound obvious but make sure you’re posting about your SMS community in your permanent feed. Include your phone number and encourage audiences to sign up by texting a unique keyword.
  • SMS Links: Share SMS links in your posts. These are custom short links that redirect followers straight into their mobile messaging app with your campaign phone number preloaded into the contact field.
  • Add to Bios: Adding your phone number to social media profiles will make sure your number is visible and accessible. You can point to it as a CTA in posts to encourage sign-ups.
Convert Podcast Listeners

Podcast - showing a call out in a youtube video description

Podcast listeners are always looking for new ways to engage with the hosts they love so why not promote during your episodes? Doug Lesmerises and Ross Jackson talk about how they both were consistent about sharing their Subtext channels on their podcast, leading to a healthy SMS audience. Here are a couple of best practices for promoting to your podcast audience.

  • In-Episode Promotion: Make sure that you’re repeating your SMS number during your podcast so listeners can hear and text in.
  • Description Call-Out: Promote your SMS number in your episode and show description, that way listeners can find it easily if they miss it during the episode callout.
Convert Event Attendees

Event - QR code

SMS marketing and communication can be a key component of any event. Utilize your SMS channel to share information prior to an event and day-of communication and utilize it to promote future events. Encourage attendees to subscribe for a seamless and personalized experience, ensuring they stay connected with your brand beyond the event itself. Here are a few ways to drive subscribers.

  • Ticket Sales: Collect phone numbers during the ticket sales process. It’s one of the most effective ways to convert your audience to SMS and gives you more opportunities to engage with them before, during, and after the event.
  • QR Codes: Use a QR code for easy sign-ups at your event. You can share them on social, in emails, or even print them on a sign when attendees check-in in the morning.
  • Keyword Sign-Up: To give your attendees a great event experience, use keyword sign-ups that allow attendees to get the information they’re looking for. They’ll enjoy a more personalized experience.
Out-of-the-Box Conversion Ideas

Out of the box - Billboard or flier

Some of our clients decide to promote their campaigns in some pretty unique ways. Creative and unconventional approaches not only capture attention but also set your brand apart, fostering a sense of excitement and intrigue that encourages users to take that extra step in joining your SMS channel. Here are some successful examples:

  • Billboard: See how Carly Rae Jepsen used a billboard on the road to Coachella to promote her text message community.
  • Merch: Maren Morris promoted the new album by launching an SMS channel called Humble Hotline and drove subscribers by selling merch with her phone number on it.
  • Fliers: Maggie Rogers posted fliers around the NYC area to promote her WANT WANT Hotline.

Retaining Your Audience

Once you have SMS subscribers, the next important step in SMS marketing is retaining them. Offer value through personalized content, exclusive insights, and two-way communication. Respect frequency preferences, adhere to regulations, and provide an easy opt-out option. Now, let's dive into some essential tips for effective SMS audience retention.

  • Be Yourself: Your audience subscribed to your Subtext channel because they wanted to hear from you, so be you! They don’t want to feel marketed to, they want to feel like they’re talking to a friend.
  • Provide Value: Make sure your audience knows WHY they're signing up for your channel. Podcaster Ross Jackson talks about making sure his followers knew exactly what they were signing up for when they subscribed to his channel.
  • Use Subtext Features to Your Advantage: Features like audience segmentation and drip sequences can help create a more engaging experience for your audience, leading to deeper connections. The deeper the connection to your audience, the less likely they are to unsubscribe.
Building an SMS audience requires planning and strategy but just because you’re starting at 0, doesn't mean you’ll be at 0 for long, especially with the Subtext team in your corner. From driving subscriptions to sending engaging text messages, to optimizing your channel, your Subtext customer success rep will partner with you to ensure you’re getting the most out of the Subtext platform. Your CS rep will be a dedicated partner in making sure you are set up for success. So, roll up your sleeves, start testing out some of the growth strategies we outlined above, and embark on the path to cultivating a thriving SMS following – the effort will pay off in the form of an audience that's not just engaged but genuinely invested in your brand. If you want to convert your audience to SMS, schedule a time to talk to our platform experts.

Retaining Your Audience


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