I was recently having a conversation with the online marketing manager for a major retail brand, discussing the constant effort to expand its email list size. The retailer had already completed most of the common best practices to make it easy for people to subscribe, so we began discussing not only the how of email permission, but the where and when.
People typically opt-in to receive email messages when a brand is top of mind. So, it's important for marketers to think about the various consumer touch points available in the online and offline worlds. A website is obviously a popular and appropriate place to encourage email subscription, but it shouldn't stop there. Given the ubiquity of mobile phone usage (75.7 percent of the population uses mobile phones, according to eMarketer) it's worth taking a look at how to leverage SMS messaging for email permission.
For starters, currently 99 percent of mobile devices are SMS compatible according to Nielsen Online. By enabling consumers to sign up for email communications over SMS messaging, brands open up new opportunities to be where and when those consumers might be more willing to opt-in. For example, once you enable email subscription via SMS, it's easy to add calls to action in various places - in-store, associated venues, relevant events, print advertising - where consumers not only have the willingness to engage with your brand, but a few moments of spare time to do so. I like to think of these as captive audience opportunities, the most obvious being a line of some type where consumers are standing around waiting and using their phones to help kill time.
One company that has used mobile to support its overall list growth is Responsys customer, Southwest Airlines. With its Click 'N Save program, Southwest Airlines encourages consumers to sign up for deals by sending their email address to the Southwest Airlines mobile short code. The airline informs flyers of this program in the airport via large scale advertisements and on the plane itself with ads in the in-flight magazine and mentions on the drink napkins. By reaching consumers when they are most engaged with their brand, Southwest continues to grow its largest direct communication campaign.
If used correctly, SMS messaging can be a great channel for engaging consumers as well as an effective channel for gathering email permission. It bridges the online and offline worlds and allows brands to reach people when and where they are open to engaging