How to collect phone numbers for SMS marketing

Topic: Marketing, SMS Marketing
SMS marketing tips for Black Friday

Your complete guide to building and managing a contact list for SMS marketing…

Most of us now rely on our smartphones to manage almost every aspect of our lives via a myriad of apps, from travel to finances, entertainment to health – as well as staying in touch with friends and family, of course. 

It will come as no surprise to learn that almost 98% of young people (16-24-year-olds) today own a smartphone, according to Uswitch. And that percentage only dips to 86% of 55-64-year-olds, and 80% of people aged 65 and above. 

With the potential to reach almost every adult in the UK, SMS is a tried-and-tested marketing tool for businesses and public sector organisations. That’s because succinct, timely and personalised text messages create a sense of immediacy that drives action, such as attending an appointment or making a purchase.

As well as wide reach, the impressive 98% open rate SMS offers is a sign that audiences are ready to engage with brands in this way. 

Within this huge audience is your potential market – but how do you go about collecting mobile numbers for SMS marketing in the most effective and compliant way?

Why should you build a contact list for SMS marketing?

As with email marketing, building a contact list for SMS marketing allows you to target the right people, while avoiding the cost – and potential damage to your brand reputation – of contacting those who aren’t interested. By building a single centrally-accessible contacts list, you’re able to manage and segment your audience in the most efficient way possible. 

A good contacts list also provides key demographic data, such as age, gender and location, so you can target your campaigns accordingly.

Responsiveness is everything in SMS marketing. When someone opts into SMS communications, you need to make sure they start receiving messages immediately, when their engagement levels are high and before they lose interest. It’s also critical that you can quickly remove anyone who opts out of marketing messages, to avoid breaching data privacy rules and tarnishing your brand’s reputation through unwanted communications.

What are the laws on collecting phone numbers for SMS marketing?

Mobile phone numbers are classed as personal data and, as such, you’ll need to follow the data protection rules in the territories you operate in. Different countries have their own data protection laws but, in general, anyone who holds or processes personal data is expected to safeguard it, and adhere to customer communication preferences. 

GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is an EU initiative, and applies to all EU member states, as well as to the wider European Economic Area, which includes countries like Norway and Iceland. 

GDPR was enshrined in UK law before Brexit so the regulations also apply here too. Switzerland, which is in neither the EU nor the EEA, modernised its data protection laws with the introduction of the revFADP in September 2023. 

Other data protection laws include the Privacy Act in the US, the Data Privacy Act in Australia and the Privacy Act in New Zealand. 

How to collect mobile numbers for SMS marketing

In recent years, consumers have become more willing to share personal information, including their mobile number, in exchange for better brand experiences. 

In fact, it’s now so commonplace to receive text messages from retailers, courier companies, healthcare providers, and restaurants that we don’t usually give it a second thought. Many people recognise that it is a highly-useful and convenient way for them to plan their time and avoid forgetting something important. Someone who’s actively signed up for communications is likely to be engaged – but how do you encourage them to do this?

  1. Encourage sign-ups on your website

Direct people to an SMS marketing sign-up form with a pop-up or button on your website, letting them know that subscribers can access exclusive deals and offers, and be the first to know about new products. Just bear in mind that pop-ups and buttons shouldn’t distract or annoy people when they’re browsing your website. 

  1. Specify SMS when people opt in 

When someone opts into marketing communications or appointment reminders, ask them if they’d prefer email, SMS or both. Those who actively choose SMS are more likely to engage with the channel, which can help reduce your cost-per-acquisition, or of no-shows. 

  1. Competitions

Competitions, which are widely promoted across your marketing channels, are a good way to build your SMS and email marketing lists, and reach new potential customers. Simply ask respondents to opt in to communications when they enter. 

  1. Attractive offers for subscribers

When asking people to opt in to SMS communications, be clear on the benefits such as exclusive special offers. After all, who can resist 10% off a takeaway on a Friday evening, or an early-bird discount for an event you’ve recently attended and enjoyed? SMS is the perfect channel for accurately-timed and personalised offers like these as you can create a sense of urgency and excitement, and encourage your customers to act straight away. 

Manage and refine your contact list

A good SMS contacts list is dynamic. You need to be proactive in building it and managing customer preferences, including opt-outs. This ensures that the people you’re targeting are engaged and more likely to respond to your messages. The Esendex platform has been developed to make this process as simple as possible, allowing you to add contacts manually, or in bulk; edit details; create groups; and manage opt-outs. 

Find out how Esendex can support your campaigns with our suite of business SMS solutions.

Author Avatar
Emily Herbertson

Emily is a marketing executive for Esendex UKI and has worked in a variety of content creation and strategy roles in both B2B and B2C.