SMS Best Practices: Building Mobile Marketing Lists

mobile marketing listMobile Marketing Lists: Building Successful Lists Quickly

Written by: Dan Slavin

CodeBroker’s retailer customers have found that their most engaged customers are those that belong to their SMS marketing programs. Using SMS best practices as outlined in this document, these retailers have been able to quickly and efficiently build their mobile marketing lists to drive significant incremental revenue. Our customers realize sign-up rates north of 10,000 new members per day – and some of our customers have signed up more than 25,000 subscribers per day for an extended period of time.

The following Best Practices assume that you already have a shortcode and are working with an SMS provider such as CodeBroker. If you are not sure of how to start engaging with consumers using SMS, please click Short Codes: Working With a Service Provider.

Based on over eight years of experience working exclusively with retailers, CodeBroker recommends the following SMS best practices including must-dos and should-dos to quickly build an effective mobile marketing list.


  • Branding (should). Establish an official program name including the brand logo. The branding should be used across all SMS promotions.
  • Call-to-action (should). Advertise the SMS marketing program in existing marketing channels and materials such as email and print, respectively. Since mobile devices are always within an arm’s length away, it’s just as easy to opt-in to a mobile marketing list while sitting in a doctor’s office looking at ads in a magazine as it is standing in a check-out line.


  • Rewards (must). Leverage mobile coupons to promote program opt-ins. For brands that use offers as a general practice, delivering mobile coupons to consumers that sign-up for your SMS program is a win-win for both you (drives opt-ins and redemptions) and the consumer (savings from a favorite brand). In practice, CodeBroker retailer customers deliver more generous offers to people who sign-up to their mobile marketing list (e.g., 15% off an entire order). The reason is two-fold: 1) entice consumers to sign-up, and 2) as a thank you for providing personal information. Note: If you are delivering high value coupons as an incentive for opt-in, make sure that your SMS provider includes fraud prevention solutions to ensure that your welcome coupons are not abused.
  • Rolling welcome coupons (should). Rolling welcome coupons can drive urgency as they are valid for a finite period of time as well as deliver a unique consumer experience. Coupon expiration is based on when the consumer signs up for the mobile marketing list. For example, Joe subscribes to the marketing program on Tuesday and his welcome coupon expires 14 days from Tuesday whereas Ginny enrolls on Friday and her coupon expires 2 weeks from Friday.


  • Train store associates to explain and promote the SMS program to customers (must). Without question, in-store sign-ups will garner the largest percentage of people texting-in to join an SMS program and store associates are the key. They have direct access to the consumer and can remind them about the value of joining. If you really want to drive sign-ups in a big way, create incentives or contests and reward the stores that realize the most opt-ins.
  • Review store presence for advertising opportunities (should). In-store locations such as shelf tags, end caps, check-out line, help desk, promotion racks, external signage on store front, or at the gas pump, are ideal places to place a sign with information about the SMS program. The more places you advertise the SMS marketing program, the higher the likelihood consumers will opt-in while shopping in-store.
  • Enable program opt-in as part of the check-out process (should). During check-out is a great time for consumers to opt-in. The key is to make the sign-up process short and sweet so as not to hold up the check-out line. If you plan to deliver an opt-in mobile coupon, either delay offer delivery or make the offer good for the next time the consumer shops at your store.


  • Promote online sign-up (must). Combine sign-up for a mobile marketing list with email (often done on the home page) or loyalty program enrollment. CodeBroker retailer customers have found this to be an effective way to acquire new subscribers.
  • Promote SMS sign up at end of e-com checkout (should). Most retailers promote email program signup at the end of the eComm checkout process – SMS sign-up should be included too. This is a perfect opportunity to have your customers sign up for your mobile marketing list.
  • Leverage social media (should). Include posts to your brand’s Facebook page, Twitter account and Pinterest with links to opt-in to your SMS program. In particular, retailers that have a lot of “likes” do well when they advertise the SMS program using Facebook.

These are just some of the SMS best practices you can use to successfully market an SMS program. Employing these techniques, CodeBroker retailer customers have realized up to 10,000 sign-ups per day over an extended period of time. Please contact us for more ideas or to help you get started with your own SMS program.