10 Ways to Get Listeners to Sign Up for Your Radio Station’s Text Message List

Seth Resler
Seth Resler

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

Every radio station should be building a text message list. Text message lists are inexpensive ways to stay engaged with your P1 listeners. It is far easier for listeners to opt in to a text message list than give you their email address when they are out and about with nothing but their mobile phones. This means that text message lists are perfect for concerts, sporting events, and other on-premise promotions.

Use a specialized service to set up your text message database. You will want to reserve a keyword, such as your call letters. (There is a small monthly fee for this.) When people text that word to your services dedicated number, they will automatically be signed up for the list. For example, if they text “WKRP” to the number 55555, they will have joined the list.

Once you have set up an account with a text message service and reserved your keyword, you need to get word out about your text message list. For example, you need to tell your listeners to “Text WKRP to 55555 to win cool prizes.”

Beware of the Text Message Trolls

A word of warning: Several radio broadcasting companies have been slapped with fines because they sent out mass text messages in a manner that did not conform with applicable laws. With text messaging in particular, there are “trolls” that subscribe to lists in the hope that a company will run afoul of the law so that they can seek payment. Always consult your legal team before initiating any text message strategy to ensure that your station does not run into any issues.

One way to sidestep problems may be to use your text message service to immediately encourage people to subscribe to your email newsletter. For example, when people text “WKRP’ to the number 55555, they will immediately receive a message that says “Reply with your email address to subscribe to our mailing list.” By doing this, you can take advantage of text messaging, but still use email as the primary communication method, thereby avoiding the trolls.

But seriously, check with your lawyers first.

Here are ten ways to get that message out to your listeners:

1. On-Air Contests

The era of “Caller #9” is over. Instead, require listeners to text in to enter a contest. Your promotions department can log into your text message service to pick a winner, or even set it up to automatically text one random entrant a winning text message.

The downside? You don’t get to air a caller telling you “which station hooks you up with all the cool swag!”

The upside? You capture the phone number of every single listener who enters the contest.

2. On-Site Contests

At on-site promotional appearances, don’t ask listeners to write their email address on a slip of paper with a golf pencil. Your promotions staff has better things to do than enter those email addresses into your database by hand. Instead, require entrants to text in to win, just as you would with an on-air contest.

If the local car dealership still likes to see that old prize wheel in their parking lot, no problem; just ask people to opt in to the text message list and show you the welcome message that is automatically sent back for a chance to spin.

3. Sweepers

Cue the station voice: “Want to join our email list? Text WKRP to 55555.” Rotate once per hour.

4. On-Stage Intros

When your DJ gets on stage to introduce the headliner at the next concert, make sure they tell people to pull out their phones and text in.

5. T-Shirts, Bumper Stickers, and Keychains

The great thing about the phrase “Text WKRP to 55555” is that it’s short enough to fit on every piece of promotional merchandise you give away.

6. The Station Vehicle

When you get that vehicle wrapped, include the text message instructions on all four sides of the van.

7. Banners and Signage

Yup. Here, too.

8. Wristbands

Wristbands are cheap. Print up several thousand with text message instructions on them and give them to your local concert venue to use when your artists come to town.

9. Artist Interviews

Got an interview with a big artist? Allow people to text in with a question that they want asked (“Text ‘WKRP and your question to 55555’ and maybe we’ll ask them on the air.”). Everybody who submits a question will be signed up for the list, and you’ll get a list of great ideas. You can even give prizes out to listeners if you use their questions.

10. Advertising

Planning a big outdoor, print or TV campaign? Include your radio station’s text message instructions.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

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