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Use Text-to-Subscribe at Live Events to Supercharge Your Email Marketing

Use Text-to-Subscribe at Live Events to Supercharge Your Email Marketing Blog Feature

January 10th, 2019 min read

Imagine yourself at a conference in the audience of a breakout session.

The speaker has just finished her presentation and was absolutely fantastic; super engaging.

She’s filled your head with a ton of actionable ideas. You’re hooked and you want more.

You pull out your phone and type her name into Google looking for her website. You want to see if she has a blog filled with more ideas. Even better, an email signup so you can have a piece of her mind delivered straight to your inbox each week .


"The WiFi here isn’t that great. This is taking forever. Oh, shoot! It’s time to go to the next session."

You promise yourself you'll look into this later. Maybe once you get back to the hotel after tonight’s social mixer...

Maybe in the airport on the way home...

Perhaps on Monday when you’re not playing catch up from the conference...

Possibly in three weeks if you happen to remember...

Maybe never.

What a wasted opportunity for everyone. The speaker loses out on the chance to connect with an audience member hungry for more. You miss out on connecting with an industry leader and learning from their expertise – simply because there wasn’t an easy way for the two of you to connect after the conference.

It Happens All the Time

This situation is more common than you might think, and it doesn’t just happen at conferences. Consider the following:

  • The opening band going on tour with a national act

  • A guest pastor at church delivering the sermon

  • A company showing off their latest gizmo at a trade show

  • Podcasts that want to connect with their audience through more channels

All of these are great examples of someone in front of a captive audience - a situation that offers a prime opportunity for them to grow their following. They just need a simple way for a lot of people to join their email list all at once. If they aren’t providing that, it’s a significant lost opportunity.

There’s a Tech for That

So, what’s the solution? A new app? Ask Siri for help? Attempt a Vulcan mind meld?




Turns out, there is a technology that already exists on everyone’s smartphones. Plus, it's so simple that anyone can use it: text messages.

That’s right. Good, old-fashioned SMS awesomeness to the rescue.

An Alternative Ending

Imagine this scenario instead...

As a speaker is wrapping up her presentation, she mentions you can join her email list. She’ll also email you a copy of the slides from today’s presentation. All you need to do is text the word TALK to a special number.

You pull out your phone (along with almost everyone else in the audience) and send the simple text message. You get a reply asking for your email address, so you type that in and hit send. You receive another message thanking you for attending and informing you that the slides are on their way.

That’s it. You’re done!

Soon, a copy of the presentation is in your inbox. Plus, you’ve joined the email list and new ideas will arrive in your inbox each and every week. No reminders needed.

You’re now free to focus on much more important matters – the hors d'oeuvres at tonight’s mixer. Score!

Is It Magic? No, It's "Text to Subscribe"

So what was the technology behind that simple back and forth of text messages that made it all work?

It’s called “text to subscribe.”

There are a number of text marketing platforms that provide this feature. However, the main focus of many of these platforms is sending outbound text messages. Their text to join offerings can sometimes feel like an afterthought.

The basics of these platforms are similar.

First, you claim a keyword. This is what your audience will text to join your email list. You can also think of each keyword as a separate list of subscribers.

You’ll be able to select what type of information the keyword will collect. Some services allow you to only collect email addresses. Others let you capture more information, like first name, last name or zip codes.

Each keyword is associated with a phone number. This number is typically a shortcode, which is a 5- to 6-digit phone number. Shortcodes are easier for your audience to remember (and text) than a full length 10-digit number.

Your Brand, Your Messaging

When your audience texts a keyword to the phone number (e.g. Text "TALK" to 345345), they will receive an automated reply asking for their email address. Some services allow you to customize these messages. Other services offer limited customization, if any.

It’s important to find a solution that best aligns with your branding and allows you to add some personality to the signup process. After all, you’re essentially having your audience fill out a form, and nobody likes forms (well, except for Dave in accounting who “loves a good tax form”...Weirdo).

One, Two Punch Combo

It's also important to know what happens to email addresses after they are sent to your keyword.

Find a service that syncs collected email addresses (and other information) automatically to your email marketing platform. Once you have these two technologies working together, you can automate your marketing. This is when the real magic happens.

Most email platforms have an auto-responder feature. These work well for “single action” emails. For example:

  • Send a thank you email as soon as they join your email list

  • Instantly deliver resources like slides or case studies

  • Email a promo code or coupon

If your email marketing platform allows you to send drip email campaigns, like HubSpot Workflows, that’s even better. Now you can use a “text to subscribe” service to push your audience into your lead maturation workflow or sales funnel.

Multiple Keywords Provide Context

Let’s go back to that speaker at the beginning of the article.

Let’s say she gave talks covering different topics at multiple breakout sessions throughout the day. If she used the same keyword for each session, she would provide an easy way to grow her email list. Not too shabby.

Imagine she took this one step further and had a unique keyword for each of her talks.

Not only would she capture the email addresses from the audience, but she would know the exact topic in which they are interested. Prospects could be added to a drip campaign or workflow tailored to that subject matter. Much more powerful!

Incentives, Incentives, Incentives

The best marketing automation in the world doesn’t mean anything if people aren’t interested in texting your keyword. It’s important to know your audience and what incentives might appeal to them. A correctly targeted incentive can result in tremendous conversion rates.

The Shadowboxers are an up-and-coming pop band that recently toured with Justin Timberlake. This was a major break for them and they knew they needed to seize the opportunity. Their goal was to get as many Instagram followers and email addresses as possible. They turned to Textiful to power their “text to subscribe” campaign.

After the first couple of shows, their conversion rate was low. Really low. They were performing in front of thousands of people each night and were only capturing a few dozen email addresses.

Something was off.

We had a discussion to try to figure out what the issue could be. In a short time, it was clear that the incentive was probably the source of the low response rate. They were offering a free sticker if you provided an email address and stopped by the merch table.

Frankly, it just wasn’t that compelling.

They came up with a new plan for the next night. This time, they decided to run a contest to win backstage passes and meet the band. To enter, the audience just needed to text the keyword, provide an email address and follow them on Instagram. Textiful made this an easy task.

Responses skyrocketed. During the rest of the tour, over 30,000 individuals interacted with The Shadowboxers’ keyword. The band experienced a tenfold growth in their email list and a dramatic increase in their Instagram followers. The incentive made all the difference!

You Don’t Need to Give Away the Farm

Keep in mind that these incentives don’t have to be a discount or a giveaway. In some cases, joining the email list itself could be enough incentive. Ideally, you would deliver specific, timely information that is valuable to your audience. Some ideas for incentives include:

  • Slides from your presentation

  • VIP access to an upcoming event

  • Your latest whitepaper or case study

  • A sample of that “really fun” tax form 🤣🤣

Actively promoting your keyword and incentive is key. Simply creating a sign or adding a slide to your presentation isn’t going to be enough to drive conversions. You need to engage with your audience and sell the idea that it’s beneficial for them.

Adding It All Up

“Text to subscribe” services can be effective ways to grow your email list. They provide a simple way for a captive audience to interact with your brand.

Signups can be used to trigger specific drip campaigns and lead funnels. Leveraging multiple keywords can provide the context to deliver more targeted marketing messages.

None of this matters, though, if you don’t give your audience a reason to text by using incentives.

Textiful Can Help

Textiful was built from the ground up as a “text to subscribe” service. Over the years, we've added more features to make it the top choice for capturing email addresses through text message.

You can tailor the signup process to your audience. You can customize each message for your keywords. You can capture any type of information: email address, first name, favorite color… you name it.

Textiful also captures phone numbers, city, state and zip codes automatically, behind the scenes.

Once information is collected, it can be synced to over a dozen email marketing platforms. Our HubSpot integration allows you to trigger HubSpot Workflows and add email addresses to multiple HubSpot Lists. Using our GoToWebinar integration, you can even have people register for a webinar by sending a text message.

Textiful offers a Free Forever plan that allows you to give it a try without a credit card. Setup is quick. You can have a keyword up and running in about 15 minutes. It’s the perfect opportunity to start working with a “text to subscribe” service without any obligation.

What are you waiting for?

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