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How to Choose the Incentive for Your SMS Marketing Opt-In Campaign

sms list signup incentive

When you’re just starting out an SMS campaign, the main dilemma is what to use for an opt in. If it’s too “small” an offer, no one will bother. If it’s too “big”, then you might get lots of people who opt in, then opt out.

It reminds me of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Daddy’s things were way too big and didn’t suit the child. While Mummy’s things weren’t quite right either. What you want to do for your offer is to find the “just right” size. The trouble is your customer is Goldilocks, and you won’t know what offer they like until you give them one, or a few, to try.

You may think it’s incredibly difficult and expensive to test out multiple offers. But it doesn’t have to be. Let’s say you go big (like Daddy’s bed). Your offer generates lots of opt ins, and then people opt out. That might not be so bad. I’ve found some evidence that says that the large incentive opt out rates only run 2-6%. That equates to just a few per hundred opt ins. While I’m not convinced that number holds true for most campaigns (as the source used a limited data set), it is a good starting place.

At the very least, it offers some evidence that going with an incredible (e.g. “Big”) initial opt in offer could be what Goldilocks, I mean your customer, wants.

Try It and See

Assuming you want to grow your list fast, create an amazing offer and see what happens. If your unsubscribe rate is too high, then you know it was Daddy size and not right for your customers (or rather, great for your customers, but not great for growing your list). But at least you hopefully made some money on that single promotion, even if your list size didn’t stay as big as you wanted it to.

Next, try something a little “smaller” like Mummy’s chair or bed (am I taking the analogy too far yet?). If you hit the sweet spot, you’ll likely get people on your list who will stick around and love your brand, product or service. And they’ll also be more likely take action on future messages.

Ideas To Get You Started

If you’re convinced you should start with a big incentive, you might still be wondering what that will be. So here are some ideas to help you narrow down your choices:

  • What was the best promotion you ever ran? Could you use that exact offer again, just for people who sign up to your SMS list? If that’s not possible, maybe you can offer something that’s similar enough to draw people in.
  • Make a list of the most popular offers you already run in other channels. You can take one of those directly, but consider tweaking it to be just a little better and more exclusive to your SMS list.
  • Ask your customers. Send a survey out via other channels – email, or social media – and simply ask them what they’d expect in exchange for their mobile number. This is the best place to start if you have no idea what your customers actually like, or measurements on your other promotion’s performance. The bonus here is you might find out more information that you can use across in other aspects of your business, such as customer service or product development.

Once you decide on your offer and have it advertised anywhere and everywhere you can (but nowhere it can’t be easily changed), don’t get too complacent. Make sure you get right in there and check redemption rates, click through rates, and the unsubscribe rate. Make adjustments based on the results and keep on going. SMS marketing offers one of the highest ROIs you’ll find in mobile marketing – once you find what Goldilocks likes best.

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