Jessica Malnik

7 Effective Ways to Collect Phone Numbers for Ecommerce SMS Marketing

Between increased ad costs, diminishing access to customer data, recession fears, and continued supply chain woes, more DTC brands are prioritizing owned marketing channels, like email and SMS marketing to make their budgets go further.

This makes sense, since you have more data on your customers for personalization and can spend less money to re-engage site visitors on these channels. Text message marketing is the newcomer to the table, but has taken the ecommerce world by storm.

With SMS (and MMS), you:

But to grow your SMS program, you’ve got to collect phone numbers from your audience through ongoing marketing campaigns.

Learn seven smart tactics successful ecommerce brands are using to grow their lists and best practices for collecting phone numbers. 

Why you shouldn’t buy a list of phone numbers 

Let’s start with the elephant in the room. Buying a list of phone numbers from a lead generation provider might sound like a quick way to get in front of potential customers, but it's a terrible idea.

  • You get poor quality leads. Lead generation providers make money by selling phone number lists to as many companies as possible. This often means outdated contact information and leads who might not even be in your target audience.
  • You’ll annoy potential customers. Buying a list doesn’t give you permission to call or send text messages to people. This can eliminate any chance you have of building trust and damage your company’s reputation.
  • It’s illegal. Most countries, including the US, have strict laws, like the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), CAN-SPAM Act, and GDPR, about sending unsolicited text messages and emails. Sending mass texts to people who haven’t opted in can result in massive fines. 

Instead of buying a list, grow your SMS subscriber base the right way by encouraging people to opt-in knowingly. You’ll build more trust and better relationships. This will translate to more sales over time.

7 strategies to collect more phone numbers without spamming people 

Try these seven tactics successful ecommerce brands use to encourage shoppers to sign up for their text message marketing lists. 

1. Create a compelling discount offer with SMS popups 

Electrolyte brand Hydrant offers a $5 discount to site visitors to incentivize SMS opt-ins:

SMS opt-in popup on Hydrant's website offering $5 off

This is part of a two-step popup that starts by asking for the shopper's email address.

The vibrant product photo alongside the call-to-action (CTA) button text of “Get $5 off” is compelling by itself. However, the brand takes it a step further with the subtext of “I’ll pay full price,” as a hint of the loss the customer will experience by not signing up. 

What could make this SMS popup even more impactful? Boost the discount you offer when asking for the shopper's phone number if you already offered the discount in exchange for their email address. That way, customers will see the benefit of joining both channels.


Try this two-step email & SMS subscription popup to incentivize subscribers with a discount.

2. Create a VIP offer popup to collect more numbers

Aura Bora sells naturally flavored sparkling water. This popup is a great example that you don’t need to lead with a discount to get SMS opt-ins:

SMS popup on Aura Bora's website playing on status as encouragement to join

The brand has a loyal, young customer base, and it appeals to that with this popup offer. The headline “Psst, wanna join the cool kids club too?” is simple but effective in making the brand’s customers feel like VIPs.

This could be an effective alternative for existing customers or email subscribers who have already received a first order discount.

3. Add an SMS opt-in to your checkout page

Glow Recipe is a skincare brand that capitalizes on shoppers’ excitement as they’re placing an order:

Glow Recipe's checkout page with a checkbox to sign up for texts

Something as simple as “Sign up for SMS to unlock exclusive offers and early access to new launches.” works well here. The shopper is already giving essential personal information to place their order, so signing up for texts won’t feel like a far reach. 

Plus, if they’re already excited about what’s in their cart, there’s a good chance they’ll want to know about new products and opportunities to save.

4. Use SMS signups as landing page CTAs

​​Splendid is a fashion retailer that leverages its huge Instagram following to promote new product launches.

For instance, the brand promotes its latest collab with the influencer behind the Cella Jane Blog in its Instagram bio and Story.

Left side is a screenshot of Splendid's Instagram page showing a link to join a waitlist for the brand's collab with Cella Jane Blog. Right side is a screenshot of Splendid's Instagram Story that promotes the collab and contains a link to sign up for the waitlist.

The countdown timer in the Story adds a sense of urgency and FOMO to drive more signups.

Then, the “Get early access” link leads to a landing page with an SMS signup:

Landing page on Splendid's website encouraging shoppers to sign up for texts to find out when the collab drops.

The landing page is simple, clear, and optimized for mobile. The image teases the spring collab, and the CTA button text, “Yes, Give me early access,” further reinforces the benefit of signing up. 


Earn more subscribers with this email & SMS signup landing page.

5. Add a CTA to your product packaging 

Caffeine bar brand Eat Your Coffee capitalizes on one of the most overlooked places to share an offer—its product packaging:

Product packaging from Eat Your Coffee showing a CTA to text the brand to order more bars.

The “Want More?” CTA encourages customers to text-to-order if they’re running out.

Once a customer places an order by text, brands could ask the customer to opt in to texts about new flavors and sales.

6. Add an opt-in CTA to your bio on Instagram and TikTok  

NanaMacs is an online store that sells unique clothing pieces for women. The brand’s Instagram bio is a great example of how simple tactics can be an effective approach:

NanaMacs Instagram bio includes a keyword to text which will sign up the shopper for texts and give them a discount

It's easy to think you’ll only capture subscribers with elaborate campaigns.

However, NanaMacs’ plain-text SMS opt-in in its Instagram bio will see a lot of eyes from people who visit the brand’s profile. And the offer to get 20% off and free shipping if they subscribe to texts is a solid incentive.  

This same approach can also work well on TikTok. 

7. Prompt followers to text your brand in your Instagram Stories  

Sassy Jones is a multi-million-dollar fashion and beauty brand with a substantial 83,000+ Instagram following.

The brand promotes new product launches in its Stories and Reels and turns engaged followers into SMS subscribers by offering early access:

Instagram Story from Sassy Jones prompting shoppers to sign up for texts to know when the featured product drops.

The clothing retailer also does a great job of picking relevant opt-in keywords, like “runway,” which is fitting for a brand that aims to inspire bold fashion choices in its customers. 

Best practices for collecting phone numbers for SMS marketing

Keep these best practices in mind to launch SMS and MMS opt-in campaigns that will get results:

  • Make a compelling offer: Give people a compelling reason to give you their phone number, whether that’s a discount, free gift, VIP status, or something else. Run tests to determine what results in the most opt-ins for your brand.
  • Communicate the value of signing up for texts: You need to differentiate the content on your email and SMS channels to give a reason for people to subscribe—and stay subscribed. Are SMS subscribers first to know about new product launches? Do they get subscriber-only deals? Tell shoppers what they can expect by signing up.
  • Consider using a two-step form to grab a subscriber’s email address at the same time: Then you won’t overwhelm shoppers by asking for too much information at the same time. Most brands ask shoppers for an email address first. Since the shopper is already in opt-in mode, asking for more information, like a phone number, won’t be a big deal—especially if the incentive is good. Not to mention, having more ways to communicate with customers gives you more opportunities to build trust and (eventually) sell to them.
  • Use “next order” messaging for returning customers: If a shopper has purchased before but isn’t on your SMS list yet, adjust your signup offer for these visitors. Offer a “next order” discount or other incentive instead of showing the “first order” discount that wouldn’t be relevant.
  • Suppress list-building campaigns for people already on your list: If someone’s already on your SMS list, you won’t want to bug them with a signup offer. Instead, try personalized returning customer campaigns that show shoppers you value their business.
  • Send a confirmation message once someone opts in: Getting explicit permission is important for building a healthy SMS list and staying TCPA-compliant. In addition, initiate your welcome series when someone subscribes, so you can educate people about your brand and build trust.   
  • Avoid sending SHAFT content in text messages: The acronym SHAFT summarizes the types of content that are not allowed, which are sex, hate, alcohol, firearms, and tobacco. Anything related to these types of content in your text messages to customers violates CTIA regulations and will prevent your texts from being delivered. Repeated violations will cause your text service to stop working.
  • Consider getting your business a 10-digit long code (10DLC) instead of a short code: A 10DLC is a standard US phone number with an area code followed by seven digits, while a short code is a 5–6 digit number some businesses use to text from. Short codes can be expensive and have less reliable delivery. Whereas a 10DLC number is more reliable, flexible, and allows for two-way communication.

Grow your SMS list with on-site campaigns 

Getting inspired to collect phone numbers to grow your SMS marketing channel? 

Start by creating on-site campaigns to stay in touch with site visitors. 

Growing your list is easy with ConvertFlow’s no-code, drag-and-drop funnel builder. Create popups, embedded forms, landing pages, and more with signup fields that sync to your SMS provider.

Just choose from our library of templates. Then, customize for your brand and offer.

Create a free account to get started today.

About the author
Jessica Malnik
Contributor, ConvertFlow
home icontwitter iconlinkedin icon
Jessica is a copywriter and content strategist with over 10 years' experience in SaaS marketing. Her work has appeared on industry-leading websites like Social Media Examiner, SEMRush, CMX, The Next Web, Databox, Help Scout, Convince & Convert, and more. When she's not writing something epic, you'll usually find her watching Master Chef or schooling people on 90s pop culture trivia.