7 SMS marketing best practices for growing your list with offers

We reveal seven best practices to supercharge your subscriber list growth with irresistible offers that'll leave your audience craving more.

2 October 2023

78% of consumers prefer to receive offers from their favourite brand via text message.

It’s true, we can’t expect our customers to follow us without giving something back in return. It’s one thing to capture the attention of your target audience but we want to show you how to drive conversions with your text message marketing efforts.

Why choose an SMS marketing strategy?

SMS marketing is far superior to other marketing channels. With a 98% open rate compared with just 20% for email marketing, it’s easy to see the appeal of texting your consumers.

Being a permission-based marketing platform means that you will only be sending out content to consumers who are genuinely interested in your brand. This helps to target your audience more specifically and avoid spending money advertising to people who don’t want to hear from you.

According to Uswitch, at the start of 2022, there were 71.8 million mobile connections in the UK (4.2 million more than the UK population) – an increase of 3.8% from 2021 (around 2.6 million). That figure is predicted to rise to 95% by 2025! Statistics like these confirm to most marketers that traditional methods could easily become obsolete.

How to win customers and influence them

Read our 7 step guide to growing your SMS marketing list using offers in your SMS campaigns:

1. Offer a sign-up incentive

To get SMS marketing campaigns off the ground and begin to grow your list, you need to attract the attention of your target consumer. Once you have decided on your subscriber profile, offer an incentive to encourage them to opt in to receive your SMS messages. Your offer can include a discount, a free gift, or exclusive access to content.

You will need to display your offer where consumers will easily find it. Create an advert on your website, social media channels, and in-store.

Make it really easy for users to opt in: Use a short code or keyword that people can text to subscribe to your SMS marketing list. You can include a sign-up form on your website or social media channels and even add a tick box to your checkout for existing customers.

2. Text message marketing campaigns are not all about discounts

Decide what kind of promotion can your business realistically offer. Your products may have great margins enabling you to fire out regular offers to your subscribers. However, discounts and money-related offers may not fit with your brand or be financially viable. It doesn’t mean that you can’t win customers with text messages containing non-promotional offers.

There is no doubt that a promotional text message will drive conversions within your subscriber list. Let’s face it, many potential subscribers can be attracted to sign-up with offers and discount codes.

Not only can an offer encourage a customer to make a purchase, but it can also incentivise them to spend more money than they would have originally, with the feeling that they are getting more for their money.

It’s also a great way to encourage a first-time buyer. If you display the discount incentive when the customer first browses your website, they will be more likely to make a purchase and also agree to receive it via SMS message.

There are however non-promotional incentives you can offer to your customers such as:

  • Exclusive product drop notifications
  • Free delivery
  • Loyalty programmes
  • Promotional gifts
  • Influencer updates

3. Continue to nurture throughout the customer lifecycle

Hooking in subscribers with a tasty offer is only the start of the journey. In the same way that subscribers opt-in, they are also free to opt-out at any time. The last thing you want is for consumers to sign up to make use of an offer and leave straight away.

Create a welcome series and let subscribers know what they are signing up for. Shortly after they have joined your list, send them the incentive they signed up for and entice them to stay with information about what they can expect to receive in the future in return for their loyalty.

4. Use abandoned cart and browse reminders

If you choose a good SMS marketing software you will be able to incorporate abandoned cart reminders. You will also receive notifications to the platform when browsers have left without purchasing.

There are lots of reasons why customers leave sites without making a purchase. It doesn’t necessarily mean the loss of a sale. Instead, it can be an opportunity to improve the customer experience. You can use the information from your SMS marketing platform to identify abandoned carts and send customers a reminder to purchase in a text. Perhaps include a free delivery code to drive the sale forward.

Where customers have simply browsed and left the site, cost could be an issue. Using the SMS platform, you can send images of items browsed by the customer and tempt them to come back with an offer.

5. Use ongoing communication to drive repeat purchases

Once a purchase has been made, there is no need for the customer/brand relationship to stop there. Transactional messages are extremely valuable to customers. Spend time working on purchase confirmations, shipping updates, and returns and exchange information. Ask subscribers for feedback on their purchases. How was the product? How was the service?

Now you know your customer’s favourite products, you can send them texts about new products they may like. Add images and possibly offers to entice them back to your store.

Invite subscribers who make repeat purchases to join your loyalty scheme and earn points to use when they shop with you again.

6. Alert dormant customers

Reignite a spark in previous shoppers you haven’t heard from in a while. Send them an offer they can’t refuse to recapture their interest in your brand. Remind them why they signed up to receive your text communication in the first place.

Good SMS marketing platforms will be able to pick up on customer inactivity and automatically send out a message. All you need to decide on is setting up your strategy for winning them back. Keeping in contact will help you to retain subscribers on your SMS list.

Use Automated SMS to interact. Ask subscribers to reply if they want to receive a discount code. This will help you to keep your data list clean as some customers may have changed phone numbers or gone off-radar. Keeping your list up-to-date will save you money on your SMS marketing efforts.

If the subscriber tells you that they no longer wish to receive your communication, the SMS platform can opt them out. This is not as negative as it sounds. Having subscribers on your list who are no longer interested in your products wastes money. It is much better to focus on customers who want to hear from you. Ex-subscribers may also feel safe and comfortable to re-subscribe at a later date if they feel that they are not trapped into receiving your marketing communications.

7. Segmentation and Personalisation

Don’t underestimate the power of segmenting and personalising your audience. Both tactics give you a huge advantage over other marketing channels.


SMS marketing campaigns work so much better when they don’t seem random. A good platform will enable you to pull data from your list to include in your content such as the customer’s name, date of birth, location, and even favourite products.

Addressing a customer by name can instantly put them at their ease and help you to build a more personal relationship to cement brand loyalty. If you are looking at using two-way SMS,recipients are more likely to reply to a personalised message.

Many brands are now using influencers to help with marketing. Personalisation used for influencer-inspired content is an absolute must. Imagine the feeling customers will experience when being addressed by name in a text from their favourite influencer.

Using special dates and locations will give you the flexibility to send out personalised offers on birthdays or when a customer is near a store or event.


For an added boost to your ROI, segmentation will ensure that you are only sending out relevant offers and information to the people it matters to. If you are a brand that has more than one target market, it’s costly to send all messages and offers out to all customers. A large percentage of them may feel that you are not meeting their needs. They may become annoyed and feel harassed. The last thing any brand wants for its communication is for it to be viewed as spam.

Use segmentation to separate your subscribers into various categories such as age, interests, family dynamics, and much more. Get more targeted comms to avoid spending money unnecessarily and boost your conversions.

7. Reward customer loyalty

Show your customers that loyalty really does pay off. Points earned through spending work really well. It’s like getting something for nothing and gives your customers a goal to work towards.

A few of the large coffee shop chains use a reward system and send messages out to subscribers when it’s time to claim a free coffee or cake. The customer is likely to call into the coffee shop and redeem the reward and spend more money once there because they feel that they are getting a good deal. The customer may also bring a friend along.

Key to SMS offer success

When putting together your SMS marketing campaign make sure that all the important key elements are in place to guarantee success:

Use tracking and feedback to monitor engagement

Your SMS marketing campaign will enable you to track engagement with your subscribers to make sure you are hitting all the right notes. In minutes you will receive data to confirm the open rate, replies, click-through rate, and even how many SMS subscribers unsubscribed following your campaign.

Tracking allows you flexibility with marketing efforts. If a campaign is performing poorly, you can tweak it or change it. Equally, if it’s well-received then you know how to play future SMS campaigns.

With all SMS marketing, you must proofread your content and test your strategy via your SMS software.

Following a campaign, ask your subscribers for feedback. What did they think about the offer? It’s especially important to hear back from those who didn’t take advantage of the offer. What would your subscribers like to see more of?

Checking in with your subscribers can help you to shape future campaigns.


For every SMS marketing message you send out, there should be a clear call to action. Without this, your recipients are left floundering. They will need to understand the point of your text quickly so they don’t dismiss it. Also, the main benefit of SMS marketing messages is convenience and easy reach. If your recipients need to spend time looking for the information to follow up on your promotion, your text defeats the object. Make sure there is a button, a link, or clear instructions.

Add an idiot-proof call-to-action such as; “Reply YES for further info” or add a link to take them straight to the right page of your website.

Create a buzz

To build excitement and prepare subscribers drop hints about your up-and-coming promotion before sending the actual offer out. This could help to boost your subscriber list as customers spread the word amongst their friends.

If you have subscribers who signed up some time ago to receive a welcome offer, they may be wondering whether to continue to opt-in. By letting them know what they can hope to gain in the future by sticking with you, your retention rate will be more secure.

Drop exclusives

Treat your subscribers like VIPs and they will be more likely to continue to follow you. If what they get from your text message campaigns is not exclusive, they won’t see the benefit. Allowing you to message them privately on their mobile phones is a privilege and they may be naturally selective about who they grant this level of access to.

When your subscribers know that they are getting something from their favourite brand that other customers won’t be getting, it will make them feel more like a VIP and more likely to remain subscribed.

If you would like to know more about perfecting your SMS marketing campaigns and reaching more subscribers, check out some of our informative blogs such as How to Easily Grow your Data List and What Makes the Perfect SMS Marketing Campaign.

If you are new to SMS marketing or haven’t yet tried it, why not start your free trial today?

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