A How-to Guide to Increase your SMS Subscribers using Social Media


Look up, take a panoramic glance and notice how people are curiously involved in their mobile phones. Technology has now become a universe in itself, and social media is that universe’s planet Earth.

Social media and interpersonal communication are the two things that keep a user eager to stay active. As we consider these two things, it stands as a big-time opportunity for ecommerce marketers if integrated well.

Text messages are a feature known to reach a user personally and more effectively. In fact, 48.7 million people will choose to receive business text messages in 2020 and 90% of SMS messages are read within 3 minutes of getting delivered.

So what does all of this suggest to ecommerce brands?

By now, every ecommerce business owner or marketer using SMS marketing is thinking of ways to leverage social media to accelerate SMS subscribers.

If you are confused about where to begin or how to begin, let’s go through a quick guide of how to get your marketing wheels to roll.

Start with a PLAN, always!

All successful online executions stand at the plinth of a well-thought marketing plan. When it comes to leveraging social media to increase SMS subscribers, nothing works better than a list of dos and don’ts. Pen down how you want your potential audience to engage with your brand and start with tackling small details.

Before you begin, ask yourself questions like:

  • Why does my business need SMS subscribers?
  • What will my business provide through SMS marketing?
  • What is my subscriber target by using social media for SMS marketing?

The answers to these basic questions will help you move in the right direction with a set of objectives and key results. All of this is needed for your business to have a clear understanding of your marketing funnel.

Now that we know where to start, let’s talk about the ways you can start growing your subscriber list!

1. Give your customers a good reason to subscribe

If you’re looking to receive, it is equally important to give first. Users normally show interest in brands who are willing to give before they receive, and that is exactly what creates trust and authenticity amongst the users.

Promise something useful to users, such as news, updates, discounts or a membership. All your offer needs to do is trigger excitement in the user’s mind so they are interested in subscribing to your SMS channel. For example, Pizza Hut offered new subscribers free cheese sticks for opting in for SMS messaging. This type of campaign is something any ecommerce business can offer as well.

Pizza Hut Facebook Screenshot

When a consumer gets these bonuses in return for subscribing to an SMS list, not many of them will think twice. In fact, there are high chances that they might even inform their friends and family and spread your brand word in their community!

2. Run an SMS contest on your social channels

This particular strategy is present in almost every marketer’s bucket list when it comes to increasing your SMS subscribers. Most of the time, this is a clear shot towards reaching potential subscribers which might differ from what all things you are ready to offer in exchange.

According to your business’s progress, you can conduct these SMS contests on your social media once in a year or a quarter. While conducting contests and giveaways, keep these short tips in mind:

  • Create urgency
  • Keep a low-bar entry
  • Always cross-promote
  • Offer a prize that can make it to your winner’s social media

Because after knowing that 75% of consumers are fine with receiving SMS messages from brands, who would want to miss a chance to win something awesome?

Uber and Sterling Vineyard Ad example

Looking forward to creating an online buzz for your SMS marketing?

Well, this is it. These type of campaigns are the most successful ones to generate SMS subscribers. Usually, if these sort of campaigns are worth sharing, they tend to generate more shares amongst your target buyer’s community as well. 

So, tie your laces and get ready for a boost in your SMS subscription list.

3. Make users opt-in directly

Instead of complicating things, sometimes only a simple thought and action is all that is needed. A simple notification to your social media users about your SMS subscription can work well for you if you have enough audience. Open up your social media profile, spread the word, and witness what your social media channels can give back to you.

Utilize your social media content including text, videos, images, blogs, and more to shout out loud while reaching your customer’s touchpoints. Put up a direct opt-in call to action in your social media content and who knows your customers might already be up for it.

Go on! Try your business luck.

4. Run Facebook Ads powered by a chatbot with automatic SMS opt-in

Facebook, being the most used social media network, holds an affluent opportunity to bring more audience. Moreover, marketers usually find the cost per lead acquisition (CPA) on Facebook to be the lowest of all ad networks. 

Now when we talk about Facebook ads powered by a chatbot, that is where Facebook Click to Messenger ads can work out the best. You can simply direct the user with the CTA to a Facebook Messenger chat app rather than a website landing page.

Sounds interesting, right?

As soon as the user reaches the Facebook Messenger app, your chatbot can have an interactive conversation which can then lead to asking people to sign up for email or SMS updates in a non-pushy manner.

click to messenger facebook ad

Such an approach towards generating SMS subscribers is a great example of how to leverage your social channels to generate opt-ins and retarget customers. When Facebook ads direct the user to a chatbot, it’s easier for the user to opt for it. Facebook usually has a number on file for most of its users and that makes it easier for fellow users by popping up their contact number as a quick reply.

5. Opt-in SMS subscribers with a keyword

SMS marketing with social media comes with another opt-in mechanism that uses keywords. This feature of keyword opt-in creates a chatbot that responds to that specific keyword and makes it interesting, as well as quick, for the user.

For example, your business can spread the message “Text INTERESTED to (YOUR PHONE NUMBER HERE) to join the premium member list for priority updates and access”. This particular attempt makes it easier for the user to opt-in without writing down their mobile number and by simply texting a single keyword. Check out how Starbucks did this using the phrase “WOOHOO.” 

Starbucks ad and SMS example

Go for a keyword opt-in tool if you are looking forward to making a user’s journey more interesting. Since it’s so simple for users to opt-in, this feature provides two benefits at a time to both users as well as the business. 

6. Use influencer text codes

The best way to reach more, as well as targeted audiences, is to collaborate with influencers in your niche. You can work on well-planned initiatives like offering discount codes or to receive premium deals etc. This particular way of marketing suffices two things at a time i.e increasing sales & generating more followers. 

Like many businesses today, you can give a custom code to influencers to put out on their social media profiles which can also be used to track revenue generated from them. When people text the same keyword, they should receive a discount or a follow-up message depending on what you are offering.

Influencer SMS and text code example

@coachkrystal_ with the most suitable followers for the business promotes amino acids to a target audience focused on their physical health. The influencer further adds watching a video on the availing the offer loop and promotes the brand at its best.

Pro Tip: Use the discount codes as a tool to provide compensation for the influencer based on sales and you are all set to nail your way through influencer marketing.

Combining interpersonal communication with social media is the best possible way to reach a user in the right place at the right time.

As far as marketing strategies are concerned, SMS marketing with social media marketing is here to stay. 

Also, a social media post can reach more people when it is posted at the right time, which can be analyzed through a number of social media marketing tools available in the market. While this can cost a dime to some businesses, there are a number of helpful tools you can get your hands on.

Happy SMS marketing!

Author Bio

Surya is an SEO Strategist at SocialPilot. He often looks out for new strategies to optimize the content. He is a problem solver by nature, a mountain person to the core, and music calms the chaos in him. Feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn.

The 250+ Page Playbook on Facebook Messenger & SMS Marketing for Ecommerce

Fast-growing DTC brands implementing this playbook have connected with 18x more customers, doubled their 7-day ROAS, recovered 5x more abandoned cart revenue & increased AOV 25%.


This article originally appeared in the OctaneAI blog and has been published here with permission.

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Steve has entrepreneurship in his DNA. Starting in the early 2000s, Steve achieved eBay Power Seller status which propelled him to become a founding partner of VisionPros.com, a contact lens and eyewear retailer. Four years later through a successful exit from that startup, he embarked on his next journey into digital strategy for direct-to-consumer brands.

Currently, Steve is a Senior Merchant Success Manager at Shopify, where he helps brands to identify, navigate and accelerate growth online and in-store.

To maintain his competitive edge, Steve also hosts the top-rated twice-weekly podcast eCommerce Fastlane. He interviews Shopify Partners and subject matter experts who share the latest marketing strategy, tactics, platforms, and must-have apps, that assist Shopify-powered brands to improve efficiencies, profitably grow revenue and to build lifetime customer loyalty.

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