Collecting Phone Numbers: Top 5 Tips to Do It Right

Collecting Phone Numbers: Top 5 Tips to Do It Right

Thinking about collecting phone numbers and building your SMS marketing list? You’re in the right place!

There are lots of different ways to connect with your audience, but SMS marketing is one of the most effective methods. In today’s digital age, nearly everyone owns a smartphone (83.72% of the world’s population, to be exact). 

In comparison to email marketing, SMS marketing is much more successful. Marketing through text messages has a 45% response rate and a whopping 98% open rate. That means that 98 out of 100 people will SEE what you send them! (Forget your message ending up in the spam folder.)

As you can see, SMS marketing represents a huge opportunity for companies. However, it can also pose some challenges like the risk of violating a consumer’s privacy, which can result in a hefty fine.

If you’re ready to start collecting phone numbers and including SMS marketing as part of your strategy, ensure that you have the proper precautions in place to avoid getting penalized for your marketing procedures.

Why buying phone numbers is bad

Decades ago, companies would sell lists of cell phone numbers for profit. However, in the last several years, laws have come into place to discourage the practice of buying cell phone numbers (although some companies still do this).

While buying phone number lists isn’t illegal, contacting people who didn’t consent to your messages is.

In fact, it’s a direct invasion of privacy. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act has strictly regulated this outdated business practice to protect consumers’ privacy.

Plus, it isn’t profitable for your company either. When you purchase phone numbers, you’re essentially just buying cold leads. These individuals usually aren’t aware of your company and aren’t interested in your products or services. You’re basically paying a large fee for consumers to ignore you!

If you’re interested in SMS marketing, the best practice is to use legal strategies to gain warm leads. This is the safest, most effective, and most lucrative option.

Privacy and GDPR principles for SMS marketing

When marketing to your audience, you must comply with Privacy and GDPR principles.

There are seven primary GDPR principles to keep in mind:

  • Lawfulness, fairness, and transparency: You must be transparent with your audience. Clearly explain why you require their personal contact information.
  • Purpose limitation: You must only use the data and information in the way your audience has consented to. Any other purpose requires new consent.
  • Data minimization: You are not to collect excess data, or more data than is required for your purpose(s).
  • Accuracy: It’s up to you to ensure that all data you collect is accurate and up to date.
  • Storage limitation: You must justify the length of time you’ll keep each piece of data you store. 
  • Integrity and confidentiality: You must maintain customer confidentiality and not share their information with other businesses.
  • Accountability: You must securely protect data and maintain the documentation to prove your compliance.

By not complying with privacy regulations and GDPR principles, your company could be sued by the consumer for up to $1,500.

That’s why it’s essential to ensure you’re collecting and storing phone numbers in a way that meets all the requirements!

The 5 legal ways to collect phone numbers

There are five legal ways to collect customer information. Luckily, they’re relatively easy to implement (and lucrative). These methods provide a completely free list of cell phone numbers that don’t breach consumer rights.

To make your SMS marketing legal, you’ll have to do two things:

  • Include information about text messaging on your Terms and Conditions page
  • Provide the option for customers to “opt in/opt out” easily

1. Use your company website

Using your website as a platform is a great way to gather information from subscribers. 

Many companies offer a free eBook or a discount in exchange for contact information. By offering added value that your customers are interested in, you’ll be able to gather their mobile information and use it for marketing purposes.

Example: Use an opt-in form in your footer that says: “Sign up with your name and mobile number for 10% off.”

Or you can add a checkbox to your checkout page. Here’s an example of this strategy:

Collecting phone numbers on your checkout page

Using OptiMonk’s Embedded Content feature allows you to show your opt-in form ONLY to new visitors or visitors who haven’t subscribed yet.

Get started with these templates:

2. Use popups to increase the subscription rate

Popups are one of the best ways to collect phone numbers from website visitors. They work better than simple opt-in forms on your website because they’re more attention grabbing. And you can make sure that they only appear to people who are ready to see your message. 

Check out how Biktrix collected phone numbers with a killer popup formula. This method is called “The Trojan Horse.”

First, they presented a beautifully designed popup offering new customers a mystery discount in exchange for an email address. This was the “hook.” 

Collect phone numbers with a popup

After people subscribed with their email address on the first popup, the Biktrix team took advantage of the good mindset visitors were in and displayed the second page of the popup. 

Here, they provided the option to double the discount by subscribing to their SMS list. This wasn’t mandatory, it was just an option.

After clicking on the “Double my discount” button, the third page of the popup appeared. Here,  visitors could provide their phone numbers:

Collecting phone numbers with a popup

Biktrix collected 2,600+ new phone numbers with this popup. 

Their strategy also confirmed that SMS marketing is much more effective than email marketing…they earned an average of $109.39 for every SMS they sent.

Now you might wonder: if phone numbers are the goal, why collect email addresses in the first place?

First, email is a valuable nurturing channel in the long term, and it’s one you don’t want to neglect. Second, the team discovered that they could collect more SMS subscribers if they started by asking for an email. This opened the gates for SMS, like a Trojan Horse… hence the name.

If you’d like to “steal” Biktrix’s strategy and achieve similar results, check out these ready-to-use Trojan Horse templates:

3. Text-to-enter promotions

You can use your social media accounts or your website to run a “Text-to-Enter” promotion, where you invite customers to text a specified number to gain access to a special offer or promotion.

Example: Text 55555 To Claim This Promo Offer! 

In the picture below, Shoppers Drug Mart uses a Text-To-Enter promotion to collect customer information.

Collecting phone numbers with a Text-To-Enter promotion

4. Start a contest

A contest is an excellent way to get your community engaged. Use a text message angle to encourage your customers to leave their phone numbers.

Example: Use a popup form on your website that says, “Enter your mobile number to win a free iPhone.” 

Make sure your giveaway is large enough to provide an irresistible incentive for the consumer.

Collecting phone numbers with a contest

5. Collect phone numbers from email newsletter subscribers

Email newsletters are an excellent marketing technique. You can include plenty of information in emails, and many customers will open them for information about sales, new products, and more.

Example: At the end of your newsletter, sign off by saying, “Want early access to our BIG sale at the end of the month? Enter your phone number and you’ll be the first to know when it’s live” and link to an online form.

Managing multiple phone numbers for your business can be quite a challenge. However, there’s a solution to streamline this process which is phone extensions. These phone extensions enable you to efficiently organize and oversee multiple phone numbers in a manner tailored to your business needs.

You could also show an SMS opt-in form for email subscribers when they visit your website. 

That’s exactly what Craft Sportswear NA did and they achieved a 40.44% conversion rate with this popup.

Craft Sportswear popup collecting phone numbers

This can be done easily using OptiMonk’s targeting features.

You can get started with these templates: 

The opt-in process for text messages

The opt-in process must be transparent and clear, and the consumer must consent to receive texts from your company.

Use a two-step opt-in process. Let the customer consent to your initial text while they agree to the Terms and Conditions of your text. Allow them to opt-in a second time to receive subsequent text messages.


What’s the best tool to collect phone numbers?

Many list-building tools allow you to collect mobile phone numbers. 

OptiMonk is a conversion rate optimization platform that allows ecommerce stores to grow their email & SMS list at the same time with personalized messages, decrease cart abandonment rates, and boost sales, too. It has a free plan, so it’s definitely worth a try.

What are opt-out instructions?

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) requires you to send opt-out instructions to all customers when they sign up. An example of an opt-out message is: “Text STOP to unsubscribe.”


The next time you’re deciding whether to buy a list of cell phone numbers, opt out!

SMS marketing can be an excellent tactic to grow your business if you do it right. That means being fair, lawful, and strategic about how you collect and use phone numbers so you don’t violate your customers’ rights. Good luck!

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