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The Best Text Message Marketing Services of 2020

By Kiely Kuligowski,
business.com Writer
| Updated
Oct 26, 2020

Compare the best text message marketing services and learn how to choose the best service for your company's needs.
Best Overall
Wide range of features
Intuitive dashboard
Comprehensive analytics
Best for Growing Businesses
User-friendly system
iOS and Android mobile app
Excellent customer service
Featured Sponsor
All-in-one messaging platform
Message via mobile and desktop apps
Autoresponder options
Most Flexible
Eight pricing plans
High customization
Integration via API
Best Low-Cost Service
Low-cost solution
14-day free trial
Nine flexible pricing plans
Compare the best text message marketing services and learn how to choose the best service for your company's needs.
Updated 10/26/20

This page has been updated to include more frequently asked questions about text message marketing.

Text message marketing is one of the most popular modern marketing techniques and a great option for small businesses looking to make a big impact with their customer outreach. 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.

How We Decided
Our team spends weeks evaluating dozens of business solutions to identify the best options. To stay current, our research is regularly updated.
12
Considered
9
Researched
3
Selected

Compare Our Best Picks

  EZTexting SimpleTexting Textedly SlickText
Pricing $39/month for basic plan $45/month for 1,000 credits $29/month for basic plan $29/month for basic plans
Analytics Message tracking, contact tracking, delivery reports New subscribers, clicks, number of messages sent perlist Conversion rates, opt-outs, KPIs, new customers Opt-in/opt-out tracking, geographic stats, link tracking
Key features Automated scheduling, drip campaigns, surveys Autoresponse, customization tools, contact management Group texting, built-in compliance, two-way texting Mobile autoresponders, contact management, mass texting, customization

Our Reviews

EZ Texting: Best Overall Text Message Marketing Service

EZ Texting has flexible pricing packages.
It offers a wide selection of customization tools.
Credits will expire if you don't use them within 18 months.
EZ Texting is the best text message marketing software overall because of its ease of use, range of features and intuitive dashboard. With EZ Texting, marketers at all levels of expertise can create and manage successful text message campaigns. This service has a variety of helpful tools, including comprehensive analytics, automation features, contact management, customization, mobile keywords, message templates, drip campaigns and surveys.
Read Review

Textedly: Best for Growing Businesses

Textedly offers built-in CTA and mobile carrier compliance.
Each plan includes custom keywords and free incoming messages.
It lacks some key features, like segmentation and surveys.
Textedly is the best text message marketing software for small businesses. With features like custom keywords and free incoming text messages, Textedly has a range of helpful text message marketing tools. With this service, businesses of all sizes can create and execute successful text message marketing campaigns and track results.
Read Review

Podium: Featured Sponsor

Podium lets you access and respond to all your reviews from one centralized inbox.
As a Podium user, you can communicate with customers and elicit feedback via text message.
Podium requires you to sign an annual contract.

Podium is a customer interaction platform that utilizes text messaging to help businesses manage customer relationships and build an online reputation on a variety of websites.

Podium's platform consolidates customer interactions and online reviews into a single dashboard to help users manage online review management. From the dashboard, users can send review invitations, respond to online reviews in real time, and send and receive text messages with customers and potential customers.

Additionally, Podium's platform provides businesses with reports on the business's day-to-day operations, including sentiment analysis and competitive benchmarking, that can help businesses identify potential areas for improvement.

More

SimpleTexting: Most Flexible Text Message Marketing Service

SimpleTexting offers eight different pricing plans.
The interface is easy to use.
There is a 160-character limit per SMS credit (1,600 characters for MMS).
SimpleTexting is our pick for most flexible text message marketing service. It has a variety of plans, so you can choose the one that fits into your budget. SimpleTexting also offers an extensive list of tools such as segmentation capabilities, automation tools, contact management, customization, MMS messaging, mobile keywords and message templates that make creating successful texting campaigns easy. SimpleTexting's dashboard is easy to understand. If needed, you can reach support via live chat or phone. SimpleTexting's pricing is based on the number of texts you send per month; each plan includes free incoming messages, unlimited contacts, rollover credits and short codes. The service has a free 14-day trial, and paid plans start at $25 per month.
Read Review

SlickText: Best Low-Cost Text Message Marketing Service

SlickText offers a free mobile app and multiple SMS automations.
You get one-on-one help to set up your account.
Your text credits will expire if you don't use them within a certain time period.
SlickText is our pick for best low-cost text message marketing service due to its flexible and affordable pricing plans, as well as for its user-friendly dashboard, automation tools, custom keywords and contact management tools. SlickText starts with a 14-day free trial that provides 50 texts and one keyword, without requiring you to provide your credit card number to sign up.
Read Review

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 cost upward of $4,000 per month, with various features available at different price points. For example, a free monthly plan will limit you to a very low text cap with 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 by how much you use the service or allow you to pay monthly for credits that you can use in your campaigns.

 

Buying Guide

Pros and Cons of Text Message Marketing

There are many benefits of using text message marketing, as well as some potential cons. The direct, personal nature of text messaging is a double-edged sword in that it provides an excellent opportunity for businesses to speak directly with customers, but it can also mean a thin line to walk in terms of respecting customers' privacy.

Pros

  • The conversion rates tend to be high.
  • People quickly open, read and respond to texts.
  • It's a cost-effective marketing method.
  • You can customize and personalize texts to fit your customers.
  • The services offer a wide variety of tracking and analytics features.

Cons

  • There can be a learning curve to use the services effectively.
  • It can be time-consuming to grow your contact list.
  • A text message marketing campaign requires constant attention and effort.

Regulations for Text Message Marketing

Mobile marketing can be a great tool for your business, but it's 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 U.S. Federal Communications Commission developed, has laws 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 and the Mobile Marketing Association have similar guidelines for the appropriate use of text message marketing. These guidelines are not laws, but they lay out the 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 program that is truly free to the end user.
  • All advertising should include the program name, the product description and quantity if applicable, a link to terms and conditions, instructions for how to stop receiving the messages, and a note that message and data rates may apply. Alternatively, you can provide all this information when the customer texts HELP.
  • Get opt-in approval prior to sending messages to any given consumer.
  • Allow your customer the choice of unsubscribing.
  • 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.
 

Advantages of Text Message Marketing

There are many benefits of text message marketing, prime among them the chance to communicate directly with customers. These are some other key benefits:

High open rate

SMS marketing reports a higher open rate than email marketing – nearly 98%. This means that recipients are nearly guaranteed to see your messages.

Cost-effectiveness

Text message marketing is a generally low-cost way to market your business, with many providers offering low monthly or annual plans and even pay-as-you-go options.

Mobile method

One of the key tenets of marketing is to meet your customers where they are, and for most modern consumers, that's on their mobile devices. Text message marketing is a surefire way to reach a majority of your audience.

Complement to a larger marketing plan

Text messaging doesn't need to be your entire marketing effort; SMS marketing works well in conjunction with other types of marketing. For instance, you can include links to your social media profiles in your text messages or offer a discount code for recipients to use on your website.

Higher customer engagement

Because texting is so personal, customers feel valued and like what they have to say to you matters when they receive texts from you, which increases the chances of them engaging directly with you.

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 your customer service.

When you're looking for a text message marketing solution, it's understandable 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 on your campaigns, contacts and keywords that you can use to improve future campaigns.

  • Automation: The best text message marketing companies offer automation tools, which are helpful if you want to send out the same text message on a regular basis, such as recurring reminders.

  • Contact management: Accurate, up-to-date contact lists are vital to successful text message marketing campaigns. If your contact list is full of old numbers, your customers won't receive your messages and your campaigns won't succeed. The best text message marketing 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.

  • Drip campaigns: With this feature, you can send out automated customer journeys, with actions triggered based on conditions you set. For example, a welcome text goes out when a customer subscribes, and then they get a thank-you message when they make their first purchase, with other triggered texts to follow.

  • Free incoming text messages: The best text message marketing companies don't charge you for the texts you receive from customers.

  • Integrations: Some text message companies integrate with other platforms, such as email marketing tools like 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. These are also known as MMS messages.

  • Mobile keywords: The best solutions allow you to choose custom keywords and track the use of these keywords in your campaign.

  • Scheduling: You should be able to schedule text messages in advance to go out at any date or time.

  • Surveys: The best services make it easy to gather customer feedback with polls and surveys.

  • Text-to-landline: This feature lets you send and receive text messages through your business landline phone number with no changes to your voice service.

Community Expert Insights

To get a better sense of what entrepreneurs are looking for in these services, we asked experienced small business owners from our community which text message marketing programs they use and what they like about them. Here's what they said.

Alex Kovalenko, account manager and senior IT recruiter at Kovasys: EZ Texting

"We like how easy it is to use. You can add different groups of people, [and] it's easy to unsubscribe and easy to communicate with [customers] after the message is sent."

Mike Khorev, growth consultant: EZ Texting

"EZ Texting is a major timesaver with all its various features, and I like that it has an intuitive interface that's easy to use. It's also easy to personalize and automate messages. However, there can be a steep learning curve for certain advanced features, and customer service is sometimes slow."

Malte Scholz, CEO and co-founder of Airfocus: SlickText

"We use SlickText for our SMS marketing needs. The ease of use is our biggest pro, as well as the exceptional customer service. It would be nice to have more integration options, but the customer service is definitely a 5/5. They've been there for me every time, and their responses are super quick."

Jane Kovalkova, chief marketing officer at Chanty: SimpleTexting

"We love the fact that the user interface is super simple and that it takes 15 minutes to set up and use. No matter what your background is, you can figure out how to send mass texts and set up autoresponders very quickly. [However], the number of credits you need can be confusing, and importing contacts from CSV lists can be a bit buggy."

Frequently Asked Questions

Is text message marketing effective?

Text message marketing is a highly effective, quick and easy way to reach customers. More than 90% of text messages are read within three minutes of reception, so your audience will almost always see your messages. Text message marketing messages are also effective because they're so easy to personalize, making the customer feel seen and valued, and thus more likely to engage with your business.

When should businesses use text message marketing?

Businesses should use text message marketing whenever they have quick, pertinent information to distribute to their audience, such as a new discount code, an update on store hours or information about an event. Try to send them only during normal business hours, between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. in a customer's local time.

Why is text message marketing important?

Text message marketing is important because it opens a clear, dedicated line of communication between the customer and your business. It also allows you to customize all the messages you send to your target audience, which can improve customer satisfaction, engagement and your brand reputation.

What are the steps to set up text message marketing for your business?

While the precise steps to create a text campaign depend on your provider, the basic steps are the same across most platforms:

  1. Create an account.
  2. Activate your account.
  3. Create or import a contact group.
  4. Write a message and select the recipient(s).
  5. Send your message to the selected contact or group.
  6. Monitor your campaign's performance with the service's analytics.

What do your employees need to know to use text message marketing?

It is not necessary to train all your employees in text message marketing. Focus on training the ones who will be responsible for creating and managing the campaigns. They should understand how to create campaigns, choose contact lists, manage analytics and present the information, and troubleshoot minor issues.

How can text or SMS marketing attract new customers to your business?

The use of text message marketing can show new customers that your business is committed to customer support and a personalized customer experience, since text provides a simple, direct line of communication between your business and your customers at all times. This can add a sense of credibility and transparency to your business.

How can text or SMS marketing help you keep the customers you already have?

Your existing customers can benefit from your text messages if you keep them in the loop about deals, opportunities and news from your business. These updates keep your business on their minds and, especially if you offer them special deals for being loyal customers, incentivize them to keep buying from you.

What do text message marketing services typically cost?

While prices vary by provider, text message marketing services typically offer a variety of monthly or annual plans starting at around $14 to $20 and reaching $2,000 to $4,000 per month for advanced services. The price will also depend on the number of messages and keywords your business requires each month.

Is text message marketing effective?

Text message marketing is a highly effective, quick and easy way to reach customers. More than 90% of text messages are read within three minutes of reception, so your audience will almost always see your messages. Text message marketing messages are also effective because they're so easy to personalize, making the customer feel seen and valued, and thus more likely to engage with your business.

When should businesses use text message marketing?

Businesses should use text message marketing whenever they have quick, pertinent information to distribute to their audience, such as a new discount code, an update on store hours or information about an event. Try to send them only during normal business hours, between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. in a customer's local time.

Why is text message marketing important?

Text message marketing is important because it opens a clear, dedicated line of communication between the customer and your business. It also allows you to customize all the messages you send to your target audience, which can improve customer satisfaction, engagement and your brand reputation.

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.

AI will enhance text message marketing services.

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.

The TCPA will become even more important.

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.

RCS may rise in text message marketing.

Many experts are hopeful that an existing technology, Rich Communication Services, will work 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.

May 2020: According to The Wall Street Journal, text message marketing campaigns have experienced a significant uptick during the COVID-19 pandemic. From March 30 to April 12, the average daily number of people signing up for texts from Attentive Mobile Inc. clients was 53% higher than the average for January and February. Companies could continue to see an upward trend as in-person interactions remain limited in many states.

community answers

Common Text Message Marketing Questions & Answers
Have a text message marketing question of your own?
Ask The Community
Where can I find a bulk text message broadcast program to use on my PC?
8 Responses
Anonymous User
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...
More
How do you customers want to communicate to you, and what channels do you offer?
7 Responses
Larry Parks
Larry Parks
Answered
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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Is texting the new email marketing?
19 Responses
Scott H. Zucker
Scott H. Zucker
Answered
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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Kiely Kuligowski
Kiely Kuligowski,
business.com Writer
See Kiely Kuligowski's Profile
Kiely is a staff writer based in New York City. She worked as a marketing copywriter after graduating with her bachelor’s in English from Miami University (OH) and now writes on small business, social media, and marketing. You can reach her on Twitter or by email.
Image Credit: Chainarong Prasertthai / Getty Images
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