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The Best Text Message Marketing Services of 2021

By
Rachelle Gordon
,
business.com Contributing Writer
| Updated
May 21, 2021

This guide explains how to choose a text message marketing service, as well as summaries and reviews of the best SMS marketing services of 2021.
Best for Growing Businesses
User-friendly system
14-day free trial
Excellent customer service
Best for Small Businesses
Wide range of features
Intuitive dashboard
Comprehensive analytics
Best Scalable Software
Seven pricing plans
High customization
Integration via API
Best Customer Service
Cloud-based
Open API
User-friendly interface
Easiest to Use
All-in-one messaging platform
Message via mobile and desktop apps
Autoresponder options
This guide explains how to choose a text message marketing service, as well as summaries and reviews of the best SMS marketing services of 2021.

Text message marketing is one of the most popular modern marketing techniques and a great option for small businesses looking for a direct line of communication to their audience. Text marketing, unlike other forms of marketing, i.e., email marketing, acts as a one-to-one communication channel with the customer. Customers are more likely to see and respond positively to a text message than they would to an email or advertisement. How can you best manage a text message marketing campaign for your business? Consider hiring a text message marketing service. Based on hours of research and evaluating nearly two dozen services, we have picked the 12 best text message marketing service. Read our reviews, learn what features you should look for in a service, and read our frequently asked questions to find out how you can use SMS marketing to win – and keep – customers.

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.
18
Considered
12
Researched
12
Selected

Compare Our Best Picks

  Textedly EZ Texting SimpleTexting TextMarks Podium Slick Text Twilio Tatango Zingle Thryv TextMagic Salesmsg
Pricing
(starts at)
$24/mo (basic plan) $24/mo (basic plan) $25/mo for 500 credits $199/mo Gold plan (basic tier) Custom pricing $29/mo (basic plan) Pay as you go, starting at 75 cents per message Custom pricing Custom pricing Custom pricing Pay as you go, starting at 4 cents per outbound message $35/mo (beginner package)
Analytics Conversion rates, opt-outs, KPIs, new customers Message tracking, contact tracking, delivery reports New subscribers, clicks, no. of messages sent per list Open rates, opt-ins, click-through rates Delivery reports, response rates, unsubscribes Opt-in/opt-out tracking, geographic stats, link tracking Campaign performance, delivery reports, engagement times Click-through rates, deliverability, opt ins Engagement rates, unsubscribes, customer satisfaction Deliverability, open rates, click-through rates Segment performance, opt-outs, support rates Failure rates, messages sent, reply rates
Key features Group texting, built-in compliance, two-way texting Automated scheduling, drip campaigns, surveys Autoresponder, customization tools, contact management Dedicated short codes, open API, automated campaigns Team chat, automated review requests, mobile payments Mobile autoresponders, contact management, mass texting, customization Advanced analytics, mass texting, international reach High volume messaging, CRM integration, two-way texting Two-way messaging, AI response technology, third-party integrations Appointment scheduling, calendar management, streamlined inbox Campaign automation, email-to-SMS, virtual mobile numbers MMS, auto-reply, tag segmentation

Our Reviews

Textedly: Best Text Message Marketing Service for Growing Businesses

Textedly offers built-in call 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 service for small businesses. Textedly has a range of helpful marketing tools, including custom keywords and free incoming text messages. Businesses of all sizes can create and execute successful text message marketing campaigns and track their results.

An intuitive calendar tool makes scheduling campaigns a breeze. Multimedia messaging options can improve consumer engagement. The platform can be integrated with Instagram, so your business can send and receive direct messages, as well as texts, in one easy-to-use interface.

One of the best parts of Textedly is the number of pricing options ‒ 12 overall ‒ so startups and Fortune 500 companies can find the perfect solution for their budget. The Bronze plan is $24 per month and includes 1,000 messages with one custom keyword. The most expensive plan is the Champion option priced at $2,800 per month; it comes with 200,000 texts and 50 custom keywords. A free 14-day trial offers 50 messages for businesses to test the platform. No contract is required, and tiers can be changed as your business's needs change.

Textedly's dozen pricing options and suite of services make it a great SMS messaging service for growing businesses hoping to reach a wider consumer audience.

Read Textedly Review

EZ Texting: Best Text Message Marketing Service for Small Businesses

EZ Texting has flexible pricing packages.
It offers a wide selection of customization tools.
Credits expire if you don't use them within 18 months.

EZ Texting is the best text message marketing software for small businesses 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 text message campaigns. This top-rated service has a variety of helpful tools, including automation features, contact management, customization, mobile keywords, message templates, drip campaigns and surveys, and comprehensive analytics.

There are four plans, which are flexible for any size or type of business. EZ Texting uses a credit system for messages, so you are in control of the volume of messages you want to send and your budget. The Value plan is $24 a month and offers 200 credits at a rate of 4 cents per additional credit. The Custom package costs $374 per month, and while it also includes 200 credits, the rate is only 1 cent per additional credit. Annual plans offer savings of up to 20% per package.

In early March, EZ Texting and Shutterstock announced a partnership that allows EZ Texting users to send MMS picture messages. For no extra cost, EZ Texting customers can now choose from Shutterstock's collection of millions of royalty-free images to create promotions, announcements and invitations. Users also gain access to an image editor and hundreds of design templates to quickly design an MMS marketing campaign to boost sales, drive engagement and promote their product or service.

Read EZ Texting Review

SimpleTexting: Best Scalable Text Message Marketing Software

SimpleTexting offers seven different pricing plans, as well as a custom option.
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 the best scalable text message marketing service. It has a variety of plans, so you can choose the one that fits your company's budget. The platform operates on a credit model ‒ each month, your subscription gives you a maximum number of monthly messages. The cost per message decreases with SimpleTexting's higher-priced plans.

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 for 500 message credits. The most expensive plan is $625 per month for 50,000 credits.

You get an extensive list of tools with Simple Texting, including segmentation capabilities, automation, contact management, MMS messaging, mobile keywords and message templates that make creating texting campaigns easy. A mobile app ensures you can stay in touch with customers and prospects no matter where you are. Mailchimp integration makes importing contacts a breeze.

SimpleTexting's dashboard is easy to understand, but if you need assistance with the features or troubleshooting an issue, you can reach support via live chat or by phone.

SimpleTexting is a great service for companies looking to expand their marketing efforts into SMS marketing and want a service that allows them to increase their messaging volume as their businesses grow.

Read SimpleTexting Review

TextMarks: Best Text Message Marketing Service for Customer Service

TextMarks provides all-in-one SMS marketing solutions trusted by Fortune 500 companies.
It's well suited for midsize businesses seeking top-notch customer support in a mass texting solution.
The lack of a budget-friendly plan may mean some businesses are priced out of using this service.

TextMarks is a cloud-based, full-service SMS marketing provider whose features include the ability to send mass texts, two-way messaging, dedicated short codes and open APIs. Their platform makes it simple for businesses to communicate internally and externally, using audience segmentation to optimize messaging. An all-in-one dashboard allows you to review and manage your campaigns.

Pricing for TextMarks varies based on volume. There are three month-to-month pricing tiers you can choose from. Custom packages are also available. The Gold plan costs $199 per month and includes 10,000 messages with 15 unique keywords. The Platinum plan is $499 per month for 35,000 messages and 20 keywords. The Enterprise plan costs $999 per month and includes 100,000 messages with 30 keywords. In addition to the monthly subscription fee, TextMarks charges a $199 setup fee, though this is often waived during promotions.

The biggest differentiator for TextMarks is its best-in-class customer service. Their support team is praised in customer reviews for their friendly and responsive approaches to resolving issues. In addition, well-rounded resources make getting started with and maintaining the service simple for clients of all technical skill levels.

TextMarks is great for businesses seeking efficient service with helpful customer service available at any time.

Read TextMarks Review

Podium: Easiest Text Message Marketing Service to Use

You can see and respond to all of your reviews from a central inbox.
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 uses text messaging to help businesses manage customer relationships and build an online reputation on a variety of websites. This simple-to-understand and intuitive platform is perfect for any business, especially those needing a straightforward tech solution to communicate with customers and increase the number of positive reviews they have.

Podium's platform consolidates customer interactions and online reviews into a user-friendly dashboard. From the dashboard, users can send review invitations, respond to online reviews in real time, and send and receive text messages with customers and leads.

Customizable templates make it easy to create campaigns. Video chat options are also available for businesses looking to engage with customers and prospects in a more personalized manner.

Pricing is based on each client's needs, so there are no set pricing plans. Podium will develop a package for you based on such metrics as the type of business you run, the number of customers you have and your marketing goals.

Podium is an easy-to-use platform with completely customizable features, making it great for startups to established large-scale businesses.

Read Podium Review

SlickText: Most Cost-Effective Text Message Marketing Service

SlickText offers a free mobile app and multiple SMS automation tools.
You get one-on-one help to set up your account.
Your text credits expire if you don't use them within a certain time period.

SlickText is our pick for the most cost-effective text message marketing service due to its flexible and affordable pricing plans, as well as its user-friendly dashboard, automation tools, custom keywords, and contact management tools. The interface is incredibly easy to navigate, with a relatively low learning curve.

SlickText has a 14-day free trial that provides 50 texts and one keyword; you don't need to provide your credit card number to sign up for the trial. There are eight plans to choose from for businesses looking to continue their trial. The basic paid tier costs $29 per month for 500 outgoing messages and two keywords. For companies needing a high-volume plan, SlickText's highest pricing tier provides 50,000 messages and 30 keywords for $1,250 a month. Custom packages are also available.

SlickText's customer service is considered among the best, and tons of resources are available to help clients understand the platform.

With so many pricing options and features, SlickText is great for companies small and large looking to engage effectively with their audiences.

More

Twilio: Best Text Message Marketing Service for Marketing and Analytics

Twilio is a great option for international businesses.
Its delivery rates are impressive.
It only uses a pay-as-you-go model.

Twilio offers a wide range of technology solutions but is perhaps most well-known for its SMS marketing services. Available in over 180 countries, their platform provides communication tools for several types of interactions, allowing for personalized notifications and mass messages. Their network of over 900 million daily data points helps ensure optimal deliverability. Cross-channel integration with WhatsApp and web-based chat allows businesses to correspond with customers and prospects through one centralized interface.

Twilio's dashboard provides advanced tools for teams to examine the performance of their campaigns. Businesses can also access message delivery reports to further examine engagement and delivery failures.

Pricing for Twilio's SMS marketing services uses a pay-as-you-go model. Outbound and inbound texts in the United States start at 75 cents each. Discounts are offered if you plan to send a high volume of texts and if you make a long-term commitment to Twilio.

Twilio is a dynamic SMS marketing platform perfect for companies seeking advanced analytics and global messaging capability.

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Tatango: Best Text Message Marketing Service for Nonprofits

Tatango is a very fast service; it's capable of sending 6 million messages in an hour.
It integrates with over 20 leading CRM and email marketing platforms.
Tatango is less budget-friendly than other providers we reviewed.

Tatango is a popular SMS marketing service, especially among charities and businesses that send mass texts to thousands at one time. The incredibly simple interface allows for real-time messaging and reactions at lightning-fast speeds.

Advanced messaging workflows, audience segmentation, automation and data analytics allow for efficient and effective communications. Tatango can integrate with over 20 of the top CRM and email marketing services, allowing you to share contacts from your CMS to Tatango easily. This SMS marketing solution is excellent for nonprofits that regularly conduct fundraising campaigns; Tatango can disseminate texts at a rate of 6 million per hour.

Tatango only offers custom pricing, so you will need to reach out to a sales representative for more information about how much you can expect to pay each month.

Nonprofits and businesses with high-volume, real-time messaging needs should strongly consider Tatango. It's a simple yet powerful SMS marketing platform that can meet their messaging needs.

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Zingle: Best Text Message Marketing Service for Hospitality Businesses

With Zingle, hotels (or other hospitality businesses) can interact with customers in real time.
Businesses can deploy other software, such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, which Zingle integrates with for comprehensive, instant communication.
Zingle isn't transparent about its pricing.

Trusted by some of the biggest names in consumer-facing industries such as travel and healthcare, Medallia Zingle provides businesses with a messaging platform that delivers quick and efficient results. The service features appointment scheduling, billing, contact management, automated workflows and data analytics. Companies can drive revenue through targeted campaigns and nurture leads that are designed to boost conversions at critical points during the customer journey.

The impressive two-way messaging capability is what distinguishes Zingle from other text message marketing services. Zingle uses AI technology to evaluate guest intent, directing responses and further actions. Zingle integrates with several popular third-party apps, including Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and WeChat, allowing businesses to text seamlessly across platforms. Businesses can also integrate their existing CRM with Zingle for streamlined communications.

It doesn't list pricing on its website; decision-makers at your organization will need to speak to a Zingle sales agent for a price quote specific to your business. Three-day free trials offering up to 1,000 messages are available so you can test Zingle for a few days to understand its capabilities.

Zingle is the top choice for hospitality operators or other client-facing businesses that can benefit from communicating directly with contacts across platforms from one easy-to-use interface.

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Thryv: Best Text Message Marketing Service for Service Providers

Thryv is well suited for client-facing businesses due to its advanced calendar-management and appointment-scheduling capabilities.
You can communicate across platforms from one streamlined inbox.
Thryv doesn't list pricing on its website.

Thryv is a business management software company focused on smaller organizations.  Its SMS marketing tools offer a simple yet powerful way for your team to communicate seamlessly across platforms, including text, email, and third-party apps such as Facebook Messenger and Instagram. Thryv also has online payment technology so you can get paid faster while paying low processing rates. With Thryv, you can automate some of your communications to customers to send a request for a review, for example, and you are notified of newly posted comments to Google and review sites to grow your online presence.

The impressive appointment-scheduling and calendar-management components make Thryv the perfect SMS marketing solution for service providers. The ability to deploy multiple staff accounts allows teams to coordinate efficiently while the multifaceted booking tool lets your customers set appointments that suit their schedule. Automated reminders reduce no-shows.

Pricing for Thryv depends on your company's unique needs, so you'll have to contact a sales agent for a quote.

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TextMagic: Best Pay-As-You-Go Text Message Marketing Service

TextMagic is perfect for companies that want to carefully manage their SMS marketing budget.
Free inbound messages help companies stretch their marketing dollars.
Compared to more advanced plans from other services, TextMagic's features are limited compared to more advanced plans from other providers.

TextMagic is one of the oldest SMS marketing companies, debuting in 2001. Their straightforward service allows businesses of all sizes to easily send bulk messages, engage in two-way chat and segment contacts for targeted campaigns. TextMagic's interface is uncluttered and easy to navigate ‒ even those who are not tech savvy can engage with customers via text message. Users can send messages to over 200 countries, increasing their global reach.

It uses a pay-as-you-go model, allowing users to take complete control of their budgets. No contracts are required, and there are no penalties for canceling service. This makes it our pick for businesses seeking flexible options for their SMS marketing strategies. Whether you send one text a month to a few clients or 1,000 messages to unique contacts, this service can meet any need.

There is no charge to sign up, and outbound messages begin at 4 cents each. Volume discounts are available. Additional premium features are available for organizations requiring expanded messaging tools, such as analytics and SMS gateway APIs. 

TextMagic is an excellent pay-as-you-go SMS marketing platform providing simple yet effective communication tools for businesses of all sizes.

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Salesmsg: Best Text Message Marketing Service for High-Volume Communications

Streamlined two-way texting and mass SMS marketing make Salesmsg's intuitive platform perfect for businesses of all types.
Salesmsg integrates with top CRM software and email marketing providers.
Salesmsg is not well suited for businesses with a low volume of communications.

Salesmsg is focused on offering simple, scalable two-way messaging for businesses of all types. Their cloud-based system allows for quick and easy communication on the go using the mobile app or a web interface. One straightforward dashboard allows work teams to send, receive and manage conversations from anywhere in the world. Thousands of third-party apps are available to integrate through the Zapier automation platform.

The ability to send mass texts and alerts at a high volume makes Salesmsg a fantastic option for enterprise operations hoping to boost engagement on a wide scale. Alert customers by text of a flash sale or announce a new product with Salesmsg's capabilities. You can also improve your customer experience by responding to queries in a timely manner with Salesmsg.

Salesmsg offers two subscriptions, as well as custom packages. The basic Pro plan is $35 per month for up to 750 messages; the Premium plan gives you 7,500 messages for $300 per month, plus advanced features.

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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 limits you to a very low number of contacts, and keywords are not included. A $4,000 plan, however, may grant you unlimited keywords and 225,000 text credits.

Did you know?Did you know? Text message marketing prices vary; some are free, and some range up to $4,000 per month.

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 be a tightrope 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.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act, or TCPA, which is overseen by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, outlines the laws you must abide by when you're collecting contacts and sending text messages. Not everything in the TCPA applies to text message marketing, but you should review these laws and ensure you comply. One of the requirements of the TCPA is that you must get permission from each contact before you send 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 where you are sending messages from.

The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association and the Mobile Marketing Association

The CTIA and the MMA have outlined several guidelines governing the appropriate use of text message marketing to consumers. They are guidelines, not laws, but they lay out the best practices that companies should follow. Here are some of the guidelines:

  • Don't use the term "free" unless you have a program that is truly free to the end user.
  • Advertising materials should include the program name, a description of the product(s) and quantity (if applicable), a link to the terms and conditions, instructions how the individual can stop receiving messages, and a note that message and data rates may apply. Alternatively, you can provide all of this information when the customer texts HELP.
  • Get opt-in approval prior to sending messages to a consumer.
  • Allow the customer the choice of unsubscribing.
  • Maintain opt-in and opt-out records for at least six months.
  • Avoid advocating the use of tobacco, alcohol or other drugs in your message.
  • You may need to require age verification for some marketing campaigns.

TipTip: To comply with TCPA, review the laws, and avoid texting customers between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. within customers' time zones.

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 – over 90%. Most recipients are nearly guaranteed to see your messages.

Cost-Effective

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.

Complements 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, it may increase the chance that consumers engage directly with you.

Features

Text message marketing services should do much more than 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 the same text message regularly, such as recurring reminders.

  • Contact management: Accurate, up-to-date contact lists are vital to your campaigns. If your contact list is full of old numbers, 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 included.

  • Customization: Successful text message campaigns are personalized. Some solutions capture customer data, such as the person's full name, birthday and ZIP code.

  • Drip campaigns: Drip campaigns are automated customer journeys, with actions triggered based on conditions you set. For example, a welcome text goes out when a customer subscribes; they receive 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 your target audiences.

  • 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.

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 being received, 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 audiences, 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 time zone.

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.

How do I set up text message marketing for my 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 of your employees in text message marketing. Focus on training only those who will be responsible for creating and managing the campaigns. They should understand how to create campaigns, choose contacts, manage analytics and troubleshoot minor issues.

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

Using text message marketing can show new customers that your business is committed to customer support and a personalized customer experience. This can enhance your credibility.

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 $20 to $40 a month 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.

What to Expect in 2021

A report from Forrester Research projects a significant increase in the usage of text message marketing services in 2021 as brands try to create more direct personal relationships with their customers. This projection is associated with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for businesses to maintain their current customer relationships and drive new purchases. Many customers noticed an increase in communications during the early days of the pandemic, when businesses were communicating often about closures, new protocols and policy changes.

The report predicts that this higher messaging volume will continue throughout 2021, with marketing message volume increasing by 40% in 2022. The report anticipates that brands will focus primarily on loyalty programs, retention marketing and digital shopping.

Consumers should expect to see a shift in focus to "local-first" marketing strategies in response to customers moving away from urban hubs, with campaigns focusing on smaller, more targeted audiences.

Privacy and Tracking Rules Will Tighten

Text message marketers will see effects from major companies changing their policies on cookies and data privacy. Cookies track users, inform targeted ads and provide information on ad performance. Google has announced that it is phasing out support for third-party cookies within the Chrome browser over the next two years, and Apple is rolling out an anti-tracking tool called Intelligent Tracking Prevention for the Safari browser. Mozilla Firefox has also launched a tool that blocks third-party tracking cookies by default.

"An unprecedented pandemic rendered B2C marketers' existing plans and strategies moot, and new announcements from Apple and Google put data deprecation on a fast track," the Forrester report reads. "But these trends aren't a flash in the pan. In 2021, marketers must prepare for an ecosystem without third-party cookies and device identifiers, all while navigating an unpredictable economy and reduced budgets and headcount."

Rich Communication Services Will Continue to Grow

Rich communication services, or RCS, is a modern form of traditional SMS texting that provides options and features for richer, more nuanced text communication. RCS offers features such as group chats, video, audio, high-resolution images, read receipts and real-time viewing. Text message marketing brands will incorporate more RCS features into their products to offer customers a more interactive and immersive texting experience.

Brands Will Use Direct, Conversational Marketing

In 2021, some brands will have a designated channel, where customers can reach out directly to speak with a real representative of the company who responds in a conversational manner that makes the customer feel a stronger connection to the brand. This method of connecting with customers can also provide key information about what questions your customers have, how they shop and how they interact with your business.

Artificial Intelligence Will Feature Heavily in Texting

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been steadily growing in use across industries, and text message marketing is no exception. In 2021, businesses will use AI to respond quickly and effectively to general customer questions, direct them to the proper channels, and collect pertinent data from business audiences.

Customers Will Engage With Businesses via Texting

EZ Texting's 2020 Holiday Shopping Survey found that texting is a highly effective way for businesses and customers to engage with each other. Text messaging provides an easy way for businesses to share important updates and information, plus it offers incentives to customers to visit stores or shop online. According to EZ Texting's survey, 49% of consumers said they would visit a retailer after receiving a text coupon or promotion offering a significant discount. Survey respondents (53%) also reported that a texted coupon is more trustworthy than a digital advertisement. Savvy brands will leverage SMS marketing to deliver discounts and promotions to customers in 2021, boosting brand loyalty and customer retention.

Omnichannel Will Be Heavily Featured in CX Strategy

Traditionally, SMS marketing has been used as a stand-alone marketing channel. That will change in 2021. More companies will integrate SMS with other marketing channels, such as text newsletters linking to blog posts or other company information, combining email and text promotions and social media and text message marketing campaigns.

Rachelle Gordon
Rachelle Gordon
business.com Contributing Writer
Rachelle Gordon is a Minneapolis-based content writer who has written extensively on topics such as finance, marketing, cannabis, sustainability and tech. Her work has appeared in Benzinga, SlickDeals, and High Times. Prior to her career in journalism, Rachelle was an educator and has a passion for sharing knowledge. She enjoys helping businesses maximize efficiency while staying true to their core values.
Image Credit: Chainarong Prasertthai / Getty Images
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