Per’s Pearls: How to collect email and SMS addresses

In ten years, every multi-location company, whether it’s a Franchise (who will lead the charge), Branches, or MLM/Network Marketing will be empowering their people to send personalized emails and SMS. If we accept this premise, we must address these five challenges but don’t worry, we’ll offer several solutions to each. 

1. Hello, I love you, won’t you tell me your name?

Capturing Emails

How do I get my customer/prospective customers’ contact info so I can send them an email/SMS? There is a wealth of ways, but it gets down to fundamentals. A QSR, retail, or service provider, for instance, can just ask them. Either at the point of purchase, online order, or when they walk in. A restaurant client of mine used to add an email line on the receipt so that you could sign up for their loyalty program. The catch was training staff to highlight the line and enter the email into the system properly; in case you haven’t tried to read someone’s handwriting lately, that can be a huge issue to data integrity. A more elegant option is adding a QR code directed to a landing page or providing a kiosk with the sign-in form. 

Service providers are a wealth of data, depending on the food ordering system, you should be able to legitimately acquire their contact information as part of the transaction, the same goes for modern payment systems, where you encourage an email receipt. I’ve received follow-up emails from several businesses after getting an email/SMS receipt and depending on the content, it’s been acceptable. 


Consent – What’s in It for Me?

Why should I give up my name and contact info? This question hits several concepts- consent, questions, and content. Consent is a big, big deal. I’m permitting you to communicate with me regarding this particular item- my receipts, offers, and notifications of birthdays/anniversary- this is not blanket permission to hit me four times a day with non-relevant content. A good rule of thumb, is “when is it relevant or SPAM?” Take the 1964 Jacobellis v. Ohio case regarding obscenity, where Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, said, “I know it when I see it.” For email/SMS we know when something crosses into SPAM, but the best way to avoid confusion is to ask, ask, and then ask again.  

3. Email is Dead, Long Live Email


How, and how often, would you like us to communicate with you? People want to be communicated to via their preferred channel. People either love or hate email, social platforms, text, and messaging apps. Make sure your messages are sent to the appropriate channel. Also, a word on frequency. Ask upfront, and in your preference center, how often (and what content) you want to hear from us. We may do a whole other blog on frequency and content because there’s a lot that goes into it. 

4. Do You Like Broccoli Ice Cream?


Preference Centers are a must-have, this is not a debate; if you don’t have one, go make one, like right now… stop reading… I’m serious. Preference centers are part of a relevance and consent strategy. PCs offer a mechanism to ask what’s important at the beginning, and then throughout the relationship. 

When I started selling to Oxford University Press early in my career, Preference Centers were a hold-over from Mail Order firms. OUP had 54 variable emails for which you could sign up, it was nuts, but their deliverability and engagement numbers were incredibly enviable. Partially this was because we are not static entities, we change jobs, move, get together and separate from people- all of which affects why I may, or may not, want to hear from you. 

Wildcard questions are really interesting, provided you build a mechanism to use them. Think of food types in restaurants. Cracker Barrel recently saw a kerfuffle over adding plant-based breakfast sausage. But what’s the impact if I identify myself as preferring plant-based sausage, kosher, or gluten-free? The location should then send appropriate content based on these preferences. A word of caution, asking things like age, weight/height, race, or gender could be specifically appropriate, or super problematic. Maybe ask a few people who don’t look like you before going live. 

5. Just ’cause I’m leaving doesn’t mean I’m gone.


Regarding the unsubscribe process, Randy Levy recently wrote a short piece on unsubscribing. The piece itself is informative, but the comment section is gold. A universal pet peeve (and arguably illegal under GDPR) is having to sign in, or add one’s contact, info. to unsubscribe.  

As I mention before, we have different needs at different times, so we may decide to take a break, but if that’s not available (see preference center above) I’m going to unsubscribe or report you as SPAM. Make the unsubscribe process easy, offer a pause function, and offer the ability to change frequency and type of send, but make it easy to leave. 

Final Problem – How do I get this bird off the ground?

If I’m a single location QSR, a branch/region manager, or a member of a Network Marketing firm, these all sound super scary and prohibitive. The onus must be on Corporate Marketing/Ops to ensure that the scaffolding is available for you to start creating hyper-localized, relevant content for your customers. Sign-up options and data entry should be simple and focused on avoiding data entry mistakes, and a clear articulation of content and communication types.  

Eventually, everyone will be sending emails/SMS at the location level. The question is how? Via a low-rent email tool with no safeguards from corporate? Everyone using the sophisticated Digital Marketing Platform? We contend a made-to-purpose Distributed Marketing tool, utilizing all the sophistication of a top-tier Digital Marketing Platform, yet easy enough for a non-marketing professional is the ideal solution to this problem. 

Contact Per with any questions or comments:

Posted by percaroe

Despite my varied experiences, I'm a salesperson, and for me, that means solving people’s problems. Father of three/ Husband to one wife/ Marketing Junkie/ Voracious Reader/ Foodie/ improbable Yogi