How To Get Mobile Numbers For Bulk SMS Marketing

The following is a guest post from Gary Bury, Managing Director at Mediaburst Limited — A UK based mobile marketing provider.

The problem exists for many.  You fancy getting into SMS marketing but you haven’t got any mobile numbers, you’ve got nobody to send a message to.  So where do you start.

Ultimately you want a list of followers who are genuinely interested in your product or service.  People who are happy to receive your message and are likely to buy your goods.

It’s called permission marketing, loads of books have been written on the subject, if you want one try Permission Marketing by Seth Godin.

Don’t buy them.

First and foremost; never, ever part with money for a list of mobile numbers.  Purchasing a list of mobile numbers and then firing out messages is regarded as spam.

You won’t win many friends this way and you will upset a lot of people.  Expect to receive responses containing a range of four letter swear words; and don’t expect to get any new customers.

I’ll give you an example, we know a charity who bought 40,000 numbers.

With a modest 1% response rate you might expect 400 new donors.  But, no, they got ONE.  That’s right ONE.

And complaints, they got thousands.  Messages like, “Where did you get my mobile number?” and “Do not send me anymore SMS, ever!

They also got complaints via phone as well, some of the recipients rang their network providers and complained, who in turn spoke to the charity.  Dealing with the fall out was messy; don’t fall into the same trap.

The short and long is this: no one wants a text message from someone they don’t know.  No matter whom you are or how cool your offer is, they don’t want it.  End of story.

Put a notice up.

This is simple method number one.

Signup for some SMS marketing software and get what we call a “long number” (it’s just a mobile number), then put a sign up — nothing fancy, just print something on a sheet of A4 asking people to subscribe to get free stuff, offers, promotions, or whatever it is you are going to send them via SMS.  Something like:

To receive great offers from us just send a text to:
07712 345 678

Stick the notice somewhere nice and prominent.  On a wall behind a counter, in front of the till, on card on the table, on the menu, on the receipt, on your website, just somewhere it can be read by as many people as possible.

Everyone who texts in will be recorded in your SMS software, and presto, you have a database.

And people will text in, put that notice somewhere prominent, you’ll be surprised.

Ask people.

Next on the list is asking people.  Seems obvious really but you’ll be surprised at how many either forget this or don’t have the confidence to ask.

If you own a restaurant, ask your diners.  If you own a shop, ask everyone who comes in.  If you own a hotel, ask everyone who stays over.

You could make it part of the sales patter,

“Thanks for visiting, did you know we send out offers occasionally by SMS….would you like to receive them?”

If you are uncomfortable with this idea try this: don’t think of it like you’re asking for their mobile number, consider you’re doing them a favour, letting them know there are discounts and offers to be had.  No one will be upset with you if you are informing them of possible discounts.

If you want more proof then look no further than this case study: Hotel gets a 5,000% return on investment with SMS Marketing.  They got all their numbers by asking guests.

Keywords & Shortcodes

Finally, it’s worth mentioning shortcodes and keywords.

We discussed long numbers above.  Shortcodes and keywords are easier to remember and hence easier for your customers to text, use a shortcode instead of a long number and you should get more subscribers.

An example would be:  ‘Text “SHOP” to 84433’

The same principles apply, you need to draw people’s attention to the keyword and shortcode.  You can do this by asking or advertising.

Shortcodes and keywords are commonly used on large billboard advertisements, on radio and TV.  But don’t let that put you off; they aren’t expensive if you’re serious about building a database.