How to Build Your Mobile List: 3 Rules for a Great “Call to Action”

In the previous post in this series, we talked about how you can use your existing media to build your mobile list by adding a simple “call to action.”

Not all calls to action are created equal, however. This post gives you three simple rules to make sure your message will inspire people to actually text in and join.

1. Give People a Specific Reason to Text In

The most common mistake people make with their calls to action is they’re too general. Often, organizations will ask you to text in “for more information.” But nobody wants “information” – it’s too nebulous and vague. Or for another example, media organizations have found that if they ask people to text in “to be a source,” very few people respond. But if they ask them to text in what they think about traffic in their communities, the response is overwhelming.

Think about your goal. Are you asking people to sign up for event alerts? Are you trying to get them to a rally? Ask people to text in their zip code to sign up for local alerts near them. That way, people can feel confident that they’re not getting mass blasts that have no relevance to them – like an event in New Orleans reaching someone who lives in Los Angeles.

Or ask people to sign up for your email list. Having people sign up for your email newsletter via mobile may seem counterintuitive – but it’s highly effective. Mobile and email aren’t competitive media. In fact, they work extremely well together. If someone sees your commercial or ad, they may not be near a computer, but they could probably text in through their phone. Then, you can incorporate them into your email outreach.

If you have shwag to offer – well, everybody loves free stuff. Ask people to text in their name and address to win a t-shirt or a bumper sticker. You can even keep things high-minded. Asking a user to text in to “fight discrimination” is a lot more powerful than just telling them they’ll get info.

Thinking through what subscribers will receive will help you create a compelling call to action, while ensuring that you are clear internally about the goals for the list.

2. Keep Your Call to Action Prominent

A great call to action doesn’t mean anything if nobody sees it. Don’t hide your call to action in small font at the bottom of your ad.

Keep your message prominent. TV commercials will often fade to a screen with just the call to action displayed. It’s 1 second of commercial time, but could translate to tens of thousands of new recruits. Or check out the PSA from, featuring Community’s Alison Brie and Danny Pudi. Hard to miss the giant yellow swoosh across the screen.

3. Put Your Call to Action Everywhere

You never know how someone is going to come across your call to action. The best way to make sure people see it is to incorporate it everywhere – as part of your ads, as a box on your website, as part of your email outreach. If you are hosting an event, have a speaker make the call to action from the stage.

Follow these steps, put the call to action in as many places as you can, and you should see new members joining in droves.

This article was previously published at:“call-to-action”/

Stephen Fishbach writes marketing, communications, and press materials for Mobile Commons. He also heads up the Mobile Commons blog. Before joining Mobile Commons, Stephen worked as Director of Strategy at, where he developed media campaigns for Lions Gate Films, After Dark Films, Epic Records, and more. Stephen has a BA in English from Yale University. In 2009, he was runner-up on the 18th season of CBS’s Survivor.

Stephen Fishbach
Word Nerd
Mobile Commons