Ready For Take-Off: 6 Tried and True Strategies for Growing Your Mobile List

7 minute read

Evan Johnson

Got a mobile phone? 

Of course you do. Nearly everyone in the United States owns one. The average American checks their phone 47 times daily, and virtually all mobile phones can send and receive text messages. These ubiquitous devices make mobile marketing an outsized opportunity for nonprofits to reach a wider audience. 

SMS: It just works

With a 209% higher response rate than phone, email or Facebook, mobile messaging is a powerful and cost-effective tool for fundraising and mobilizing support. Plus, SMS marketing campaigns perform seven times better than email marketing campaigns.

Mobile communication is more personal, fostering stronger connections with supporters. Tailored messages can resonate more deeply and increase the likelihood of engagement and support. Millennials comprise a key audience for nonprofits—92% own smartphones and 85% use social media.

Finally, mobile provides valuable data on supporter behavior and preferences, helping nonprofits stage more targeted and effective campaigns.

Make room for mobile

It all starts with growing your lists. Mobile lists grew 11% over the past year vs. declining email lists. While mobile lists tend to be smaller than email lists, mobile users engage at higher rates. For every 1,000 email subscribers, nonprofits had 236 mobile messaging subscribers, and mobile accounted for 48% of all nonprofit web traffic.

A robust mobile list can support various campaigns—from fundraising to advocacy—providing a versatile tool for organizational needs. Mobile lists facilitate immediate communication, essential for sharing urgent updates or calls to action. They also provide a platform for instant feedback, enabling nonprofits to adjust strategies swiftly.

Getting started: digital strategies

1. Leveraging your email list

One of the best ways to get started on your mobile list is by leveraging your email list. Like most organizations, you likely have an email list of active email subscribers who may be more likely to engage with your content or rapid response alerts via mobile.

So, how can you move them from one place to the other?

  1. Whenever you ask for email, make sure you’re asking for mobile. When people are signing a petition or donation form, include an optional mobile field.
  2. Include a mobile ask on your paid ads. Make sure you have an optional mobile field along with the email field.
  3. Send an ask to your email list to join your mobile list. You can do this by asking them to text a keyword, to join via click to text or by signing an email petition that includes a mobile request. 

Remember, email and mobile require different styles of messaging. Know what differentiates your email list from your SMS list—and what will best motivate your audience to sign up. Is it a rapid response component? A free digital download? Low-effort assets such as phone wallpaper can be effective. 

Testing will tell you if you aren’t sure what works best in getting email subscribers to join your mobile list. So, get started!

2. Converting social media followers

Social media is a great way to enlist SMS subscribers. Posting eye-catching graphics with a strong call-to-action and keywords—and asking others to share your posts—can help convert many of your followers to join your SMS list.

In addition to keyword opt-in posts, you can advertise keywords during Instagram live features—or other online events where you can provide quick action for a live audience. For instance, you could shout out, “Text (keyword) to (shortcode) to get our slide presentation and let us know how you liked the training.” 

3. Driving website traffic

Whether your traffic is coming from Google or visitors are typing in your URL, your website can easily help move people to your mobile list.  A lightbox you might use on your main page—to provide updates or solicit donations—can also prompt sign-ups to your mobile list.

If your website has a chatbot feature, you can use it to ask for mobile signups. Adding a mobile ask to your website header or footer is another simple, passive way to enlist subscribers to your SMS list.  

Of course, make sure your site is mobile-friendly. People accessing your website or reading your content on mobile can only opt-in to your SMS list if the ask is visible on their device.

4. Testing what works

As we mentioned, ask for mobile info wherever you ask followers for their email. If you’re concerned about adding a mobile field in your form fills, you can experiment with A/B testing to see if your completion rates are affected. You may learn that reordering your fields or making the mobile phone more prominent helps.

Donation forms are another good place to prompt followers to add mobile info—as a way to get the latest updates from your organization. Again, you can test these approaches out and see what works best. There is plenty of room for creativity to boost growth numbers for your SMS list.

In-person strategies

With so many digital opportunities to grow your mobile list, it’s easy to overlook in-person strategies, but it’s important to make the most of your events. Use any gathering to make connections and get those people added to your SMS list. QR codes are especially good for this since they help eliminate user error. 

Interactive surveys or scoring opportunities can be great ways to add mobile followers. You can send  questions to new subscribers, such as, “Tell us on a scale of 1-10 what you thought of the training” or “Text to tell who you thought won the debate.” You can ask various questions to get in-person connections onto your mobile list and become more engaged in your organization.

5. Scan-to-text

QR codes are a great way to get people quickly involved. It’s just a matter of deciding the best place for people to take quick mobile action. For example, if you are tabling at a special event, you might have people scan a QR code to join your list before handing out a piece of swag or information. Quizzes are always popular—having people scan a QR code and ‘test their knowledge’ about your organization could work well.

QR codes are a good addition to direct mail pieces, printed premiums (like calendars or posters) or even membership cards. If you have volunteers on the ground or canvassing, give them a QR code to help people get more information as they go door to door. And don’t forget, a QR code on your slides is a great way to gain more opt-ins when you’re giving presentations. 

6. Click-to-text

Click-to-text is another highly effective way to grow your mobile subscriber base. Here’s how it works: By clicking a link or button in an email, website, or social media post, supporters can initiate an SMS  message on the user’s phone. The SMS contains a keyword and instructions to send to your shortcode. The user hits send, and that triggers your opt-in path. It’s a quick and user-friendly process, with opportunities for link tracking for analyzing your response rates and opt-in numbers.

The right platform for growing mobile

The right resources can go a long way in helping make the most of your mobile list. A strong mobile platform empowers organizations to reach their supporters where they are and engage these audiences in the moment. 

To help boost engagement, increase response rates, and drive supporter action, many top nonprofits rely on Mobile Commons from Upland Software. Features like polls, surveys, and text-to-donate campaigns help engage followers and grow mobile lists. Mobile Commons supports various forms of messaging, including SMS, MMS, and even voice broadcasting. Easy integration with your CRM, social media and other channels allows you to streamline workflow and tailor your communication strategies to different segments of your audience. 

The platform’s analytics tools can track the performance of your messages and better understand your subscribers’ behavior. Mobile Commons ensures compliance with regulations like TCPA and CAN-SPAM, which are crucial for maintaining legal integrity and subscriber trust. There is also a high emphasis on data security, protecting sensitive information.

For organizations that want to mobilize thousands of supporters at a moment’s notice and transform supporters into action-takers, Mobile Commons is the best option. To learn more, chat with a member of the Mobile Commons team today. 

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