Your email list is arguably your most important marketing asset. It’s the lifeblood of your marketing program—the cheese to your pizza.

Building an engaged email marketing list doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s well worth the investment. Buying, renting, or scraping a list is a big no-no, and it’s a huge waste of your time and money. Black hat email list building only leads to scary consequences such as:

  • Low-quality contacts, poor engagement, and lack of results
  • Blocked messages or email blacklistings
  • Email Service Provider (ESP) account shutdowns
  • Damaged sender reputation, engagement, brand, and online presence
  • Poor deliverability rates

Growing an email list from scratch is hard work, but it’s the only way to create an engaged community of subscribers. 

Fortunately, your list doesn’t need to start from ground zero. You can use your existing SMS program (or start using SMS today) to drive new, high-quality subscribers (if you’re not familiar with SMS or text marketing, start here). 

If you want to take your multi-channel marketing campaigns to the next level, it’s time you integrated your SMS and email marketing efforts—here’s how.

SMS tactics to grow your email list

Text to join

Texting a number is a lot more convenient than sending an email, especially when you’re on the go. That’s why you’ve likely never heard the PA announcer at a sporting event ask you to “send your email address to so-and-so@so-and-so.com to enter for a chance to win.” 

Text to join is easy. Your audience simply texts a unique keyword (like “join” or “subscribe”) to an SMS short code (5 or 6-digit number that can send and receive messages with mobile phones), and voilà—they’re now subscribed to your text messaging list. 

Next, you take it a step further and send a text asking your recipients to enter their email address to join your email list. Congratulations—you’ve now used SMS to build your email list!

Now, you’ll need to identify opportunities to encourage your customers to sign up:

  • Events: Instead of sending around the clipboard asking for signups, direct attendees to subscribe by texting a short number or phrase to your short code. Include the signup CTA on your branding, slide presentations, and speaker notes.
  • In-store: Add signage around the store or pass-along cards at the register encouraging customers to subscribe. You might incentive them to sign up with a discount or free gift with purchase promotions.
  • Traditional media: Instead of using billboards, TV ads, and other traditional media to drive traffic to your store or website, prompt your customers to text to join your email list—an engaged subscriber is worth more than a one-off visitor. Plus, it’s easier to text a number than to type in a long URL.

Nurture with SMS before transitioning to email 

Try nurturing your SMS subscribers before trying to get them to join your email list. Provide value via SMS messages and promotions over time. Then, when the moment’s right, encourage them to sign up for your emails. Here are a few ways you can nurture your SMS list:

  • Send a welcome message: When subscribers sign up, welcome them to your list and let them know what to expect: what kinds of messages you’ll send, when, how often, etc.
  • Offer help: Provide quick customer service or relevant tips to your audience. You don’t always need to be selling something—focus on providing great experiences.
  • Give exclusives: Make your subscribers feel elite by offering them exclusive discounts, promotions, and early-bird specials.

Once you’ve built some rapport, then you can incentivize your SMS subscribers to sign up for your email list. Offer them a discount or free shipping to make it worth their while.

7 best practices for building your email list with SMS

To grow your email list with SMS, you’ll need to focus on more than just the list-building tactics. Success is in the details, so you’ll need to get the nitty-gritty SMS best practices right, too.

  1. Get permission first: Don’t send messages (via SMS or email) to customers who have not granted you permission. If your SMS subscribers do sign up for your email list, make sure you use double opt-in to guarantee they want to receive your messages.
  2. Provide an opt-out: Make sure your SMS messages contain a clear way for subscribers to opt-out and unsubscribe from future messages.
  3. Use short codes: Short codes are special 5 to 6 digit telephone numbers—this shorter number makes it easier for subscribers to enter and recognize. Plus, short codes are pre-approved by carriers to have a high throughput. This means you’re less likely to get marked as spam by the carriers if you’re sending a large volume of messages.
  4. Always provide value: Only send messages with a purpose. If your message doesn’t provide value, don’t send it.
  5. Be concise: SMS is meant to be short and sweet. Keep your messages concise and provide a clear CTA.
  6. Create simple keywords: Make it easy for new customers to join your SMS list with simple keywords: “join,” “subscribe,” “yes,” etc.
  7. Offer an incentive: If you want your SMS subscribers to sign up for your email list, give them a compelling reason why: discounts, mini gifts, free shipping, etc.

Discover More Ways to Use SMS and Email Together

SMS is a fantastic engagement tool that empowers businesses to send concise, timely messages to their customers. Combined with email, the pair create unrivaled customer communication experiences that are reliable, scalable, and powerful. 

If you want to engage more of your customers on the platforms they prefer, you need to create a seamless SMS and email program. Ready to get started? Download our guide Using SMS and Email to Engage Your Customers in 2020 to learn how to forge the ultimate customer engagement duo.



Jesse Sumrak
Jesse Sumrak is a Content Marketing Associate at Twilio SendGrid focused on writing killer content and producing captivating webinars. A writing zealot by day and an ultramarathon runner by night (and early-early morning), you can usually find Jesse preparing for the apocalypse on a precipitous peak somewhere in the Rocky Mountains.