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The Best Text Message Marketing Services of 2020

By
Saige Driver
,
business.com writer
|
Dec 30, 2019
ViewApart / Getty Images
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> Marketing
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Text message marketing is quickly becoming one of the most popular modern marketing techniques and is a great option for small businesses looking to make a big impact with their customer outreach. This is because text, unlike other marketing techniques, acts as a direct line to the customer and creates a personal connection between them and your business. Customers are more likely to see and respond positively to a text message than to an email or advertisement.

 

Best Picks

Pricing

Prices for text message marketing vary by provider and typically include a per-text cost and the cost of renting keywords for campaigns. Most providers offer monthly plans that allow you to pay for texts and keywords together. There are free plans as well as plans that can cost upward of $4,000 per month, with a variety of features offered at different price points. For example, a free monthly plan will limit you to a very low text cap and no keywords, while a $4,000 plan allows you unlimited keywords and 225,000 text credits.

Other providers offer annual or pay-as-you-go plans that are priced depending on how much you use the service.

What to Expect in 2020

2020 will be a year of increased opportunity for text message marketing. People are using their mobile phones more than ever, with the average smartphone user touching their device over 2,617 times per day and 48.7 million people opting in to receive business SMS messages.

Consumers use their mobile devices to make decisions at almost every point of the buying process – searching for products, reviews and ratings, price comparisons, and more. This means businesses have more opportunities than ever to make a personal connection with consumers via mobile.

Artificial intelligence will continue to dominate the technology sphere in the next year, affecting text message marketing with the increased use and sophistication of chatbots. Over the past decade, AI has been constantly learning and improving, and it will progress in 2020 to the point that many chatbots will be indistinguishable from human service agents, with the abilities to solve problems, answer questions and direct customers on the spot.

AI is a popular tool for text message marketing providers because it performs many essential functions without the fallibility of human workers, making it a cost-effective choice, and can sometimes provide functions that humans cannot, like 24/7 instant service and sheer speed.

There will be increased pressure on companies in 2020 to comply with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which forbids marketers to contact anyone who has not provided written consent. Many TCPA violations have turned into costly lawsuits, so as text message marketing becomes more popular, it's in businesses' best interests to brush up their knowledge of the TCPA and ensure they stay within its guidelines.

Many experts are hopeful about an existing technology, Rich Communication Services (RCS), working out its problems to enter mainstream use. RCS is a texting protocol (like SMS) that allows marketers to provide a richer experience with more multimedia options. Currently, RCS is not supported by Apple and does not offer end-to-end encryption. It will be interesting to see if RCS can take hold in 2020.

Reviews

November 2019: A recent report conducted by our best overall pick, EZ Texting, found that texting with a business is quickly becoming a preferred communication channel for consumers. Specifically, the research revealed that 69% of consumers want to contact businesses via text message, with 54% frustrated when they are unable to do so. Many consumers also prefer getting information about deals and other sales by text message. The survey found that, while 54% of consumers want to receive text promotions, only 11% of businesses actually deliver them.

Text message marketing is a great opportunity to make connections with your customers, but it can be overwhelming to decide which service, pricing plan and features are right for you. To help you find the right solution for your business, we researched and evaluated dozens of text message marketing services. In this guide, we name our best picks, outline important features to look for in a text message marketing service, answer common questions, and talk about regulations for marketing text messages.

Features

Text message marketing services should do much more than just send texts. They are full-scale marketing solutions that help you engage with your audience, track results and improve customer service. 

It's understandable when you're looking for a text message marketing solution to not know exactly what features you need. Below are the features we think businesses will find most valuable: 

  • Analytics and reports: Any text message marketing solution worth its salt will offer helpful reports about your campaigns, contacts and keywords that you can use to improve future campaigns. 
  • Automation: The best text message marketing companies offer automation tools. These tools are helpful if you want to send out the same text message on a regular basis, such as recurring reminders. 
  • Contact management: Contact lists are vital to successful text message marketing campaigns. If it's hard to manage your contact list or it's full of old numbers, your contacts won't receive your message and your campaigns won't succeed. The best solutions make it easy to add contacts, import existing lists and scrub lists to ensure only active numbers are on it. 
  • Customization: The best text message campaigns are personalized. Some solutions capture customer data, such as the person's full name, birthday and ZIP code, which open up the possibilities of your business's marketing campaigns. 
  • Drip campaigns: With this feature, you can send out automated customer journeys that are triggered based on conditions you set. 
  • Free incoming text messages: The best text message marketing companies offer free incoming text messages. 
  • Integrations: Some text message companies integrate with other platforms, such as MailChimp and Constant Contact. 
  • Message templates: If you send the same text message frequently, look for a solution that lets you create and save templates so you can send messages faster.
  • Multimedia messaging: Some services allow you to send pictures, videos and audio clips. 
  • Mobile keywords: Build your contact list with mobile keywords. The best solutions allow you to choose custom keywords and track the use of these keywords. 
  • Scheduling: You should be able to schedule text messages in advance to go out any date or time. 
  • Surveys: Gather customer feedback with polls and surveys. The best solutions make it easy to gather feedback with these tools. 
  • Text-to-landline: Text-to-landline lets you send and receive text messages through your business landline phone number with no changes to your voice service.

Regulations

 

Mobile marketing can be a great tool for your business, but SMS marketing is not a free-for-all. There are some laws and best practices you should follow and consider when you plan your campaigns.

TCPA

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which the Federal Communications Commission developed, has laws in place that you must follow when you're collecting contacts and sending out text messages. Not everything in the TCPA applies to text message marketing, but it's still a good idea to review these laws and ensure you comply. One of the requirements of the act is that you must get permission from each contact before you start sending mass text messages to them. Also, you can only send texts between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. This specific rule refers to the time zone of the person you are texting – not the time zone from where you are sending messages.

CTIA and MMA

The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) and the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) have similar guidelines on appropriately using text message marketing. These guidelines are not laws, but they provide best practices you should follow. Here are some of the CTIA's and MMA's guidelines: 

  • Don't use the term "free" unless you have a free-to-end-user program.
  • All advertising should include the program name, production description and quality, link to terms and conditions, stop instructions, and a note that message and data rates may apply. Alternatively, you can have all this information available when the customer texts HELP.
  • Get opt-in approval prior to sending messages.
  • Allow your customer the choice of opting out.
  • Maintain opt-in and opt-out records for at least six months.
  • Do not advocate the use of tobacco, alcohol or other drugs.
  • You may need to require age verification for some marketing campaigns.

Our Methodology

To find the best text message marketing services for businesses, we started with more than 20 reputable companies based on our research and other review websites. 

Next, we eliminated vendors with outdated websites and hard-to-use dashboards. We also eliminated providers that didn't offer the key features we looked for in text message marketing solutions. 

After further research into each of the vendors, we cut down our list to nine vendors: Avochato, EZ Texting, Heymarket, Mobiniti, Mozeo, SimpleTexting, SlickText, Textedly and Trumpia. 

From there, we conducted in-depth research into the remaining services. We scrutinized their plans and pricing, read user comments and reviewed Better Business Bureau ratings and complaints. We signed up for free trials, evaluating the dashboard, sending out test messages and adding and eliminating contacts. Once we narrowed down the list to our three finalists – EZ Texting, SlickText and SimpleTexting – we contacted each company posing as a small business owner to evaluate their customer service.

Common Text Message Marketing Questions & Answers

Have a text message marketing question of your own?
Ask an Expert

How do you customers want to communicate to you, and what channels do you offer?

7 responses
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Primary means of communication are e-mail, voice, text and social media. A text will often get a reply when you've can't get a timely reply to a voice mail or e-mail. Also, use LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter more and more to connect with clients that have been difficult to get in touch with. This works very well with new clients that you are just beginning to work with you. In the more professional membership culture of a LinkedIn, people get the opportunity to actually know something about you...

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Anonymous User
answered

Hi Ben, I don't like doing self-promotion but I have a mobile distribution platform that can send single or multiple messages, these can also be scheduled and has a full reporting system. It also has a mobile landing page application that creates mobile landing pages and provides a unique URL which can be added to your text messages if that's of use. I've posted a couple of videos which can be viewed at the following...

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Collette: As reminders or as alerts, I think text messages are great. They cut through the clutter and get the users attention when needed. As a lead nurture tool to help move a prospective client from awareness to purchase, I do not think they are valuable. I think email provides a better means of moving a prospective client down the funnel. I know if I started receiving text messages with the frequency that I do emails, I would start opting out like crazy because it would be too...

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