How to Convert Email Subscribers to Text Messages

Kevin D. Hendricks
How to Convert Email Subscribers to Text Messages

Here’s a marketing strategy question we get a lot: How do I get email subscribers to move over to our SMS text message list? 

It’s a common question with a simple answer: Ask them. 

That’s the first step. Your nonprofit needs to invite your email newsletter subscribers to join your short message service (SMS) text list. Putting out an ask to grow your list is an easy process.

But that doesn’t mean people will respond. It’s going to take some effort.

Goal: With the right strategy, you can build a text message contact list with about 30% of the contacts that are on your email list. 

  • Why smaller? Because fewer people want texts. But the good news is those people are more engaged and more likely to respond (better open rates and response rates). 
  • Small but mighty: It’s a smaller list, but a more useful list.

Building that text message list won’t happen without a plan. And it certainly won't happen if you send one weak email asking people to opt in. Your nonprofit marketing needs a better strategy.

Download the guide: Lucky for you, we have a plan to help. This free download includes a list of 20 incentives and templates for a three-part email campaign to grow your mass texting service list.

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Step 1: Give ‘em a Reason

So what’s the strategy? If you want your email subscribers to join your text message marketing list, you need to give them a reason to join. 

  • Why should people sign up for your text messages? 
  • What value do you offer?
  • What’s in it for them?

The best way to grow your list is to give people a reason to join. 

A small number of people will subscribe because they support your nonprofit. They love what you do and they don’t need convincing. But most people aren’t your diehard supporters. They need a reason.

So offer those people something compelling and engaging. You’re going to interrupt their day on the most intimate device (people take their cell phones everywhere after all), so you better make it worthwhile. 

No one signs up for fundraising pitches. No one says, ‘Yes, ask me for money.”

So make sure the content you’re sharing is worthwhile and then you have a compelling reason for them to subscribe. 

10 Incentives to Grow Your List

Below are 10 things you can offer through text messaging that you can pitch to help grow your text message list:

  1. Exclusive updates: Promise SMS-exclusive updates on projects, achievements, and behind-the-scenes content they won't get anywhere else.
  2. Early access: Offer early access to event tickets, fundraisers, and special programs before they're available to the general public.
  3. SMS-only contests: Run contests where subscribers can win prizes, such as a lunch with the CEO, branded merchandise, or VIP event access.
  4. Personalized thank yous: Send personalized thank-you messages or videos from beneficiaries or staff for joining the SMS community.
  5. Volunteer opportunities: Offer first dibs on volunteer opportunities or exclusive roles for SMS subscribers, plus event reminders.
  6. Impact stories: Share impactful stories and testimonials exclusively through text messages to show the direct impact of their support.
  7. Interactive polls and surveys: Engage subscribers with SMS polls and surveys to get their input on future projects or feedback on past initiatives.
  8. Birthday and anniversary acknowledgments: Celebrate subscribers' birthdays and anniversaries with special messages or offers.
  9. Urgent action alerts: Provide the opportunity to be the first to know and act on urgent calls-to-action or advocacy campaigns. Use texts to give real-time updates.
  10. Street team notifications: For those passionate about hands-on involvement, provide SMS messages for spontaneous or planned street team activities, including local events, rallies, or volunteer opportunities. 

Offering compelling content via text message is the first step. Once you have that incentive, then it’s about making the ask.

Step 2: Make the Ask, Repeatedly

Now you have a compelling reason for people to join your SMS campaign list, you have to make the case—repeatedly.

Every marketer knows it’s about repetition. 

Standard marketing wisdom says it takes seven touchpoints before a potential customer responds to your call to action. So don’t expect one email invite to be enough.

A series of three emails that pitch your chosen incentive can be a good starting point for your marketing efforts:

  1. Introduce the incentive.
  2. Send a reminder.
  3. Follow up.

It’s not seven touchpoints, but it’s going to be a lot more effective than one. Especially if you automate the series.

Extend the Ask

You can get to those seven touchpoints by making additional asks across your marketing channels:

  • Make regular appeals to sign up on social media channels.
  • Put a QR code in your direct mail.
  • Share that QR code or short code at in-person events, whether it’s a flier in the bathroom or a table tent.
  • Add the incentive to your regular email newsletter.
  • Include an opt-in checkbox on your website contact form and online donation form.

Download the Guide

If you’re ready to convert your email list to an SMS list, we have a free guide to help. It will help you give them a reason and then make the ask.

The guide includes 20 reasons people should subscribe (10 more than we offered above), plus templates for the series of three emails to pitch your incentive.

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Here to Help With SMS Marketing

Rally is here to help you get results with nonprofit text messaging:

  • Tools: We offer integrations with your preferred fundraising platform, CRM, donation page, and more. We also have pre-written text message templates for when you’re not sure what to say. Our functionality and workflows can boost donor engagement, encourage peer fundraising, increase text-to-give income, and in general make your mobile fundraising more effective. We also offer two-way texting in addition to bulk texts, so you can have conversations and build relationships. That will lead to more effective giving campaigns.
  • Support: We care about customer experience. We’ve got multiple options for help including FAQs, webinars, office hours, and more. Plus, we’re happy to get on a phone call and talk through any issues, from onboarding to more effective texting campaigns. Read our case studies to see how nonprofits rave about our support and user-friendly system.
  • Not sure: If your nonprofit organization is still not sure, we’re happy to show you a demo, walk through strategy, and talk pricing options. We can even help you get your nonprofit leadership on board. We can help you figure out what to say with your text outreach and how to make text and email marketing work together.

Get started: Book a demo to learn more about Rally and start texting now.

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