A Beginner’s Guide to SMS Lead Generation

Salesperson in suit at desk texting SMS leads

It’s harder than ever to reach audiences through traditional channels like email—especially since the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, consumers are more interested in channels like messaging. From 2019 to 2020, 110% more customers used social messaging to connect with businesses, while 75% more used texting.

Convenient and personalized, messaging is a popular channel across audiences. Eighty-five percent of consumers prefer mobile messages (texting, messaging apps, or social media messages) to emails or calls. It’s no wonder marketers find that leads who receive texts are 40% more likely to convert than those who do not.

But SMS lead nurturing is new territory for many marketers. This article explores:

  • What SMS lead generation is (and how it fits into existing strategies)
  • Five pillars of a successful SMS lead generation strategy
  • Examples of lead nurturing texts

Let’s dive in.

What Is SMS Lead Generation?

Lead generation is the process of attracting consumers to your brand, then nurturing them to grow their interest in your products or services in hopes that they become a customer. SMS lead generation, also called text lead generation, is using messaging during this process. Messaging includes channels like texting, chats, and third-party platforms like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp.

Text lead generation isn’t a standalone lead generation tool. Most teams use it in conjunction with other strategies. For example, you can send leads a text after they receive and don’t reply to an email. (You can even automate that process for more streamlined marketing.)

SMS lead generation also touches other departments. Marketing teams may use messaging to generate and nurture leads, then pass leads to sales teams for qualification or to customer service teams for onboarding.

5 Aspects of Successful SMS Lead Generation

There are four key best practices to follow when you’re building a standout SMS lead generation strategy. These four elements are critical to growing your texting list, building personalized relationships, and messaging compliantly.

List of tips for generating leads using SMS

1. Get potential customers to opt in before messaging them.

Just like with email contact lists, you have to ask leads to opt in before you message them. They can either text your number with a special keyword, click a box, or enter their information on a web form. Capturing leads should be easy with an SMS marketing platform, which will help you manage opt-ins across channels, from your webchat to Facebook Messenger.

2. Grow your list. 

You need to get the word out about your texting service in order to encourage prospective customers to actually opt in. Build your SMS subscribers by publicizing your opt-in instructions and texting service details, including how often you plan on messaging your customers and what kind of content you plan to send. Post this information on your social media accounts, website (especially your Contact Us page), and any email communications.

3. Personalize, personalize, personalize. 

Sixty-six percent of consumers expect messaging to be tailored to their needs. Meet their expectations and yield high reply rates by segmenting your lists to send highly targeted messages. Leave space for custom fields, too. Your texting platform should insert each outgoing message with individual leads’ information so they feel like you texted them individually. (Check out examples of this strategy below.)

4. Use conversational messaging, not text blasts. 

Consumers want to be able to respond to your text if they have questions or want to learn more. When they do, they want real people to have conversations with them. Ensure that each message provides value and invites recipients to reply and start a conversation with your team. This strategy, called conversational messaging, is an effective way to build long-term, strong customer relationships.

5. Make it easy for leads to opt out. 

At the end of the day, not all your leads will be interested in your texting program. Always include opt-out instructions at the end of your texts, and remove them from your lists when they text that keyword. Your texting platform should automatically recognize these numbers and remove them from your lists for you.

9 Examples of Nurturing Leads

As we explored before, it’s important to send valuable content and invite leads to engage with your team. Here are examples of ways to start conversations that build relationships and encourage leads to convert:

Following up on events

One of the easiest ways to nurture leads is to follow up on events they’ve attended, virtual or in-person. In these cases, sign off with the relevant team member’s signature so it feels more personal:


Answering Product Questions

Your high-intent leads probably signed up for your texting service to get quick answers about how your product or service works. Engage them by offering to answer their questions and gently encouraging them to take next steps:


Sending Industry-Specific Tips

Sending relevant tips is a great way to remind a lead about your business without sounding too salesy. Keep your tips genuinely useful so your contact doesn’t decide to opt out once they receive your text:


Providing VIP Access

Business texting is also about offering exclusive deals to those who sign up for your messaging services. But coupons can feel too much like a sales pitch. If you can, offer a texting-list-exclusive experience, like a gift concierge, to your leads:


Introducing a New Product

As we mentioned before, business texts should make recipients feel as though they are receiving real value from your texting service. To emphasize their VIP status, consider introducing a new product through text:


Providing a Business Update

A business update can be especially useful for warming up B2B texting leads. This can remind them that your business is making strides. A business update could look like this:

Inviting Them to an Event

If your marketing team has set up a cool event or your sales team has decided to host one, consider inviting leads who have opted into texting. An event invitation is a great reason to reach back out to contacts and entice them into coming out for an evening of networking or shopping:


Texting a Holiday Greeting

Simple, fun, and direct, holiday greetings are a friendly, casual way to remind your subscribers about your business. Keep greetings short, and try to provide value where possible:


Asking for Feedback

If a lead still isn’t answering, you have to consider that perhaps your business texting program simply isn’t providing value for them. If this is the case, don’t despair; try asking for feedback to see how your business can improve:


Conclusion: How to Get SMS Leads (and Keep Them)

With help from the five pillars of SMS lead generation and these nine tips, you’ll be well on your way to building your text lead generation strategy.

The most important thing to remember when you text leads is that they’re looking to make authentic connections with your team. So fill each message with your team’s energy, personalize as much as possible, and invite leads to respond, sparking conversations that result in strong customer relationships.

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