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The Best Text Message Marketing Services of 2022

By
Mark Fairlie
,
business.com Contributing Writer
| Updated
Nov 28, 2022

This guide explains how to choose a text message marketing service, as well as summaries and reviews of the best SMS marketing services of 2022.
Best for Businesses With Simple Texting Needs
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Texts up to 75% cheaper than others
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Central inbox and campaigns feature
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Many Zapier integrations
Best for Ease of Use
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Intuitive, user-friendly controls
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Extensive message template library
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Best-in-class online learning zone
Best for Small Businesses
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User-friendly features and platform
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Free custom integration service
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Detailed campaign analytics
Best for Businesses Serving Local Markets
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SMS, MMS and messaging apps inbox
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Unlimited SMS/MMS on all plans
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Integration with review sites
Best for Service Businesses
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Comms, marketing, management in one
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Advanced appointment reminders app
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Very customer-centered support
This guide explains how to choose a text message marketing service, as well as summaries and reviews of the best SMS marketing services of 2022.

Text marketing campaigns get far greater engagement from customers than email marketing campaigns do. You have to get straight to the point, because the number of characters allowed in a text is limited. Texting feels more direct and personal. It also has an immediacy about it: According to EZ Texting’s 2019 Mobile Usage Report, 97% of all text messages are opened within three minutes, while 4 in 5 email marketing messages are never opened. The best text message marketing platforms make the process simple and can easily integrate with the rest of your marketing programs. To determine the best text message marketing systems, we looked at ease of use, cost, features and integration options. Read our reviews below to learn what each service has to offer, and see which is right for your business.

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

Text message marketing service Best use case Editor’s score Free trial Starting price Included texts (entry-level plan) 2-way texting? Custom integrations Zapier integrations? Analytics Key features Customer service
Textedly Simple texting needs 7.6/10 14 days $24 per month 1,000 Yes 30 Yes Conversion rates, opt-outs, KPIs, new customers Group texting, built-in compliance Phone, online form, webchat
SimpleTexting Small businesses 8.6/10 14 days $29 per month 500 Yes 8 Yes New subscribers, clicks, messages sent per list Autoresponder, customization tools, contact management Phone, email, webchat, in dashboard
ProTexting Customer service 8.4/10 None $49 per month 1,000 Yes 49 Yes, plus 11 API integrations Responsiveness to campaigns, subscriber growth, keyword metrics Campaign-driven solutions, solo shortcodes, global delivery Phone, email, text, webchat, in dashboard
Podium Businesses serving local markets 8.4/10 14 days $289 per month Unlimited Yes 141 Yes Delivery reports, response rates, unsubscribes Team chat, automated review requests, mobile payments Phone, email, webchat, in dashboard
EZ Texting Ease of use 8.2/10 14 days $24 per month 200 Yes 5 Yes Message tracking, contact tracking, delivery reports Automated scheduling, drip campaigns, surveys Phone, online form, webchat
SlickText Onboarding 8/10 14 days $29 per month 500 Yes 7 Yes Opt-in/opt-out tracking, geographic stats, link tracking Mobile autoresponders, contact management, mass texting, customization Phone, email, webchat, social media
Twilio Scaling businesses 7.6/10 Free trial credit $0.0075 per text Pay-as-you-go Yes 14 Yes Campaign performance, delivery reports, engagement times Advanced analytics, mass texting, international reach Email, webchat
Tatango Nonprofits 8.2/10 No $199 per month N/A Yes 6 campaign tools, 30 no-code integrations Yes Click-through rates, deliverability, opt-ins High-volume messaging, CRM integration, 2-way texting Phone, email, webchat
Zingle Hospitality businesses 8.4/10 3 days $179 per month N/A Yes 28 via Hotel Tech Report No Engagement rates, unsubscribes, customer satisfaction AI response technology, third-party integrations Phone, email
Thryv Service businesses 7.8/10 14 days $199 per month Custom Yes 30 Yes Deliverability, open rates, click-through rates Appointment scheduling, calendar management, streamlined inbox Phone, email
TextMagic Pay-as-you-go 8.2/10 30 days $99 per month (PAYG available) 2,500 Yes 43 Yes Segment performance, opt-outs, support rates Campaign automation, email-to-SMS, virtual mobile numbers Phone, email, webchat
Salesmsg High-volume communications 8/10 14 days $25 per month 500 Yes 7 Yes Failure rates, messages sent, reply rates MMS, auto-reply, tag segmentation Webchat

Our Reviews

Textedly: Best Text Message Marketing Service for Businesses With Simple Texting Needs

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Textedly is 75% cheaper per message than its competitors on most service plans.
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The software makes it easy to build lists and send promotional messages to your subscribers.
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It's not as fully featured as other platforms, potentially making it too basic for companies that want to do more than send campaigns and have two-way conversations with customers.

Textedly offers the lowest per-text price of any full-featured text messaging platform. The price is its chief selling point, but please don’t mistake cheap for substandard. With Textedly, you can easily build lists, have two-way conversations with clients, run bulk campaigns, and link up to dozens of popular apps like Salesforce. It’s also one of the few platforms that allow you to text your customers directly from your Instagram business profile.

Editor’s score: 7.6/10

On Textedly’s cheapest service plan, the price per text is just 2.4 cents. It’s still cheap if you intend to use SMS marketing a lot – you’ll pay just $140 a month for 10,000 texts. You have the option to pay monthly or annually. Unlike other providers, Textedly doesn’t offer a per-month discount for annual plans; instead, it offers 20% more texts. So, if you pay for a year of the $140 plan upfront, your cost per message goes down to 1.17 cents. Be careful, though – unused texts don’t roll over from month to month, and while you can upgrade your plan, you can’t downgrade it.

We love that the company’s resources section gives you 65 templates to choose from – far more than most competitors offer. Textedly does charge extra for text personalization, drip campaigns, and automatic replies, but the actual charges are low and one-off. There is a slight learning curve to some of the more advanced features, but the standard functions are simple to operate for novice as well as experienced text marketers.

 

Read Textedly Review

EZ Texting: Best Text Message Marketing Service for Ease of Use

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As its name implies, EZ Texting is the most intuitive and usable option for business owners who may not be completely comfortable with technology.
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The platform offers lots of helpful hints and tips for many different industry sectors.
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If you're not familiar with Zapier, you might need to pay a developer to integrate EZ Texting with most other platforms.

EZ Texting is an exceptionally intuitive text messaging platform full of useful features. Nontechnical business owners and those with little or no marketing experience should have little trouble with the software, because it’s so easy to use.

Editor’s score: 8.2/10

An aspect of EZ Texting that we particularly like is its vast array of industry-specific content to give you marketing ideas that prompt you to action. Additionally, the template library is superbly integrated into the messaging apps within EZ Texting. Competitors should follow its lead with this, because most make using templates much harder than it needs to be. EZ Texting has 49 built-in templates, and you can connect it to more than 3,000 apps through Zapier.

EZ Texting has partnered with photo library Shutterstock, which provides access to 20 million images that you can use for MMS business messages. There is also an intuitive Canva-like feature built in to help you create branded announcements, invitations and promotions. It has plenty of design templates too, in case you’re not familiar with graphics packages. For those who need help (although the platform is so easy to use that not many will), the EZ Texting website is full of guidance and helpful information.

The platform’s three main pricing plans range from $19 to $49 per month, and each includes 200 outgoing texts and free incoming texts. If you need to send a lot of messages, EZ Texting is expensive compared to other platforms. Unfortunately, your expensive unused text credits don’t roll over from month to month.

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 Text Message Marketing Software for Small Businesses

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If you're on the $229 monthly plan, SimpleTexting will create custom integrations with other apps for you.
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The platform is so intuitive and easy to use.
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Some of the instructions in the extensive help documentation are difficult to understand and follow.

SimpleTexting offers six service plans, ranging from $29 per month (500 included texts) to $899 per month (50,000 texts). The platform has all of the features that most small businesses need to grow. The software is superbly thought out and executed, but some of the features are harder to use than others.

Editor’s score: 8.6/10

The analytics are in-depth, but easy for a new user to understand. Launching campaigns, adding custom fields to your subscriber lists, and segmenting clients for better-targeted marketing campaigns are all easy to do. The inbox is a pleasure to use, as it allows instant two-way conversations with customers.

Through Zapier, SimpleTexting can connect to thousands of software programs, including the best CRM platforms and top email marketing software. It also offers something that no other text message marketing provider does: It will create free integrations that connect the texting platform to the software packages and apps you use (depending on their complexity) if you are on the $229 monthly service plan or higher.

For us, this makes the $229 plan a hard proposition to turn down, particularly if your business is growing. Growing businesses need seamless integration between the apps and software they use to better meet customers’ demands.

Read SimpleTexting Review

Podium: Best Text Message Marketing Service for Businesses Serving Local Markets

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Podium's inbox feature can automatically ask customers to join your marketing lists after they leave you a Google review.
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Podium offers unlimited texting on all of its service plans.
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Podium doesn't allow you to group consumers by the keyword they use to subscribe to a list.

Podium is an all-in-one text message marketing platform and an online review management system that starts at $289 a month. It’s also the texting platform of choice for over 100,000 U.S. businesses that serve their local communities. From restaurants and plumbers to car dealerships and retail stores, Podium brings businesses closer to their customers. You can use it to leverage the goodwill of your client base by encouraging them to write positive online reviews of your business.

Editor’s score: 8.4/10

Podium makes building and segmenting your subscriber lists easy. The service provides various list-building tools, from QR codes to webpage pop-ups that you can use on your site and social media.

Podium ensures you can launch new text campaigns quickly. You simply choose the list of subscribers you want to get in touch with, create a message for them, and press “send.” Handily, Podium has built templates into the messaging feature that you can use if you prefer. The platform’s tidy and uncluttered layout makes Podium easy to use out of the box. Clearly, an optimal user experience was paramount during the design and development of the service. In case you do need help, though, a link to the Podium website’s knowledge base is permanently placed in the top navigation bar.

The Podium inbox is a central location for all your text, email, Facebook, Instagram and webchat conversations. We like that when you click on a subscriber’s name, you caan see your entire conversation history with them at a glance.

You can also use Podium to ask customers and subscribers to leave reviews of your business. You can even reach out to someone who has left a Google review to thank them directly and ask them to join your mailing list. Podium integrates with most major review platforms.

Podium also offers several marketing automation options, which are available via a newly designed automation dashboard that allows users to browse through a portfolio of prebuilt automation templates. These templates — such as review referral automation and website retargeting automation — quickly and efficiently send relevant marketing messages to customers based on how they interact with a business. In doing so, customers can present their issues and needs without speaking to a real representative. Setting up automation templates is easy, requiring nothing more than selecting automation, customizing it and turning it on with the click of a button.

Read Podium Review

Thryv: Best Text Message Marketing Service for Service Businesses

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Thryv offers a seamless, user-friendly platform for SMS, communications, management, and marketing all in one.
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The platform is built especially around the needs of health and wellness businesses, home services, and legal firms.
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Detailed pricing information is not readily available.

Thryv is a productivity, communications, and payment platform that can help you make your service-based business more profitable, efficient, and streamlined. The company wants its software to be the core of all your business activities, from winning and managing orders to taking payment. Text message marketing is one of Thryv’s core features, letting you run keyword-driven marketing campaigns to drive up your subscription numbers.

Editor’s score: 7.8/10

You can send messages to your subscribers, inviting them to book an appointment, visit your client portal, or view your social media pages, for example. Well-written templates are built into the messaging function, offering inspiration for the types of campaigns and promotions you might like to run.

We like the built-in and programmable appointment reminder service, which is often missing or too difficult to use on other SMS platforms. Your clients can also log on to Thryv and book their own appointments.

Thryv allows customers to see messages from social media, emails, text messages, and now, WebChat messages sent to your website, all in one place. With WebChat, a free service for Thryv users, businesses can gain new customers by allowing them to reach out via their website at any time. In doing so, the customers will be prompted to provide contact information that is stored in the customer relationship management (CRM) or used to update their contact.

You can perform many other business tasks with Thryv, such as managing your social media and Google Business Profile (which includes building citations). It even offers merchant services – allowing you to accept credit and debit card payments – and online video marketing services. All this makes Thryv a great option for companies that want to run their customer communications, marketing campaigns and management functions from the same platform.

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SlickText: Best Text Message Marketing Service for Customer Onboarding

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SlickText offers one-on-one guidance from a customer success rep right from the start.
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The user-friendly mobile app is packed with helpful features.
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Unused texts do not roll over to the following month.

SlickText is an easy-to-use, feature-packed service. What makes it stand out from the crowd is its onboarding approach. When you sign up for any of its paid plans, you get a free onboarding session with a member of SlickText’s client success team. 

Editor’s score: 8/10

As well as showing you how to use the system, the client success agents help you develop a text message marketing strategy for your business and optimize your account settings to help you achieve your goals. You get your own client success rep to be your main point of contact, but the SlickText website contains extensive videos and guides to help and inspire you when you need it.

The platform is easy to use and has many useful features. Want to customize how SlickText works for your business? With the no-code automation tool on the site, you can build a more personalized texting experience for your subscribers. We like the custom integration with Shopify, and you can connect SlickText to over 1,100 other apps and software platforms via Zapier.

SlickText’s service plans range from $29 per month for 500 texts to $1,250 per month for 50,000. Though not the cheapest, its pricing is competitive, especially given the number of features it includes – and its free mobile app allows you to do almost everything you can do on the central dashboard while on the move.

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ProTexting: Best Text Message Marketing Service for Customer Service

pro
ProTexting makes it very easy to send individual and group messages and respond to any replies.
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The contact management system is impressive, allowing you to segment subscribers in many different ways.
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It doesn't offer as large a selection of templates as other services do, and the ones it does offer aren't fully integrated with the messaging sections of the platform.

ProTexting is a popular choice for businesses, charities, and schools that want to communicate individually and en masse with customers, donors, students, and parents. You can send individual or group text messages to your subscribers immediately or at a scheduled time and date you set from your desktop or the mobile app. You can also segment your subscribers easily into smaller, more niche groups thanks to ProTexting’s keyword and custom field functions.

Editor’s score: 8.4/10

ProTexting allows Shopify users the ability to send customers an SMS reminder when they have abandoned their shopping cart. Through ProTexting, Shopify businesses can send their customers an alert if they have an incomplete shopping cart. Texts can be up to 480 characters and sent as soon as 15 minutes after the cart is abandoned.

ProTexting also offers holiday and after-hours SMS auto-replies. Your business can use this to disconnect over the holiday season without leaving your customers hanging. The text messaging service provides options to customize your messages and let people know when you’ll open back up and what they can do in the meantime. With this autoresponder, businesses can choose the date range the responses will arrive, use this feature in conjunction with other automated messages, and share alternative contact information.

There is a learning curve, however. While some of the features are easy to master, others don’t provide enough on-screen prompts to show new clients how to use them. For those who do run into problems, though, ProTexting offers great customer service. Its customer support is so good that it should give business owners who lack tech savvy or experience in SMS marketing the confidence they need to press ahead. [Take a leaf out of ProTexting’s book with these seven ways to use text messaging for customer service.]

ProTexting offers seven service plans ranging from $49 to $1,119 per month, and you can take advantage of a free trial if you want to test out the features for yourself first. The platform has 19 built-in apps, with 42 add-ons for you to choose from. Most are free, but some cost extra. ProTexting also offers integrations with VerticalResponse, Mailchimp, Amazon ($49 a month), Shopify and Constant Contact.

Read ProTexting Review

Twilio: Best Text Message Marketing Service for Scaling Businesses

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Twilio has the lowest per-message rates we can find from any provider.
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The agile platform can form the back end of software used by a growing company with complex communication needs.
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Online customer reviews raise concerns about Twilio's customer support.

Twilio is the most developer-friendly text messaging platform we found in our research. It’s the type of platform that fast-scaling businesses will appreciate, because it gives developers the tools they need to integrate the messaging platform with your company’s software ecosystem.

Editor’s score: 7.6/10

Twilio’s pricing is by far the most competitive we’ve seen. This is a pay-as-you-go service, with SMS texts costing less than a penny each (0.75 cents, to be exact) to send and receive. You can build up your texting platform with extras like clean local numbers for $1 per month, toll-free numbers for $2, and high-volume shortcodes for $1,000. The analytics are second to none, letting you measure your campaign’s performance trends by country, carrier, channel and sender.

Twilio is not ideal for small businesses or growing businesses that can’t afford a development team. It’s best for a business that wants to get big fast (or is already big) and needs a reliable text messaging component to plug directly into the software used to run the company and automate its workflows. [Related article: How Does Workflow Automation Help a Business?]

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Tatango: Best Text Message Marketing Service for Nonprofits

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Tatango sends up to 6 million texts per hour, meaning it can cope with massive volumes during periods of high demand.
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It offers insight into who opens texts and who donates, allowing for segmentation of recipients based on their actions.
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Tatango isn't transparent about its pricing, requiring you to contact the company for a custom quote.

Tatango’s target markets are nonprofits, charities and political campaigns that need to text in large volumes quickly. The sophisticated back-end platform enables Tatango to send up to 6 million texts per hour. This capacity is one reason it has become the leading SMS marketing platform in the United States when measured by fundraising potential and voter drives.

Editor’s score: 8.2/10

Rather than offering a selection of service packages like most providers do, Tatango requires you to call so it can create a custom pricing plan for you, based on the volume of texts you want to send and the functionality you need from the system. The platform links natively to over 20 popular CRM and email marketing services, allowing easy and instant sharing of donor and supporter names between apps. 

If your organization has no contact list to start with, Tatango will help you collect phone numbers from other software you may use, including Salesforce, HubSpot, WinRed, Anedot, ActBlue and NationBuilder. 

Tatango’s analytics tool is impressively sophisticated. You can see how many people received a particular message, clicked on an embedded link, or made a donation. The platform allows for detailed subscriber segmentation and message automation, and the REST API gives your organization’s developers the tools they need to integrate Tatango with your existing software.

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Zingle: Best Text Message Marketing Service for Hospitality Businesses

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Zingle provides a single interface for SMS, webchat and smartphone messenger apps like WhatsApp.
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It has native integrations with many leading hotel and hospitality CRMs and other software systems.
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You have to contact the company directly for a custom quote.

Although originally designed for client-facing businesses, Zingle has become popular among hotels and other hospitality venues. The core of the system is its inbox, which brings many different communication channels to the same interface, including SMS, webchat, Facebook Messenger, and other messenger apps. You can carry out conversations with customers on the desktop control panel or mobile app (iOS and Android).

Editor’s score: 8.4/10

Zingle has an impressive ability to enable fluid, two-way communication with a customer, no matter which channel is the source of their original message. It also offers built-in sentiment analysis to help you understand the intent of your inbound messages. When programmed correctly, Zingle can direct a message to the appropriate person based on whether it contains a question, complaint or booking request. The analytics feature will soon also allow you to monitor how quickly your team members are resolving customer issues and other performance factors.

You can load your existing and potential customers’ contact details into Zingle from leading hotel and hospitality platforms you may already use, such as Opera, Springer-Miller, Amadeus, Megasys and Maestro. You can also create service tickets through its integrations with HotSOS and Quore and include message histories in Mindbody customer profiles.

Zingle offers a three-day free trial, during which you can send up to 1,000 messages to test the system. 

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

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The keyword automation is extremely flexible.
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Two-way chat allows real-time SMS and MMS conversations with your clients.
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TextMagic can be pricey, reaching up to nearly $2,000 a month for high-volume texting.

TextMagic is a specialist text message marketing platform with pay-as-you-go plans starting at 4 cents per message, as well as monthly service plans that range from $99 per month (2,500 texts) to $1,999 per month (66,600 texts). It offers a free trial with enough preloaded credit for you to send 10 text messages. The company provides services to the U.S., the U.K., Canada and Australia.

Editor’s score: 8.2/10

TextMagic uses keywords – like most other platforms do, but differently. You still create a keyword that you ask new subscribers to put in at the start of their opt-in text, but you then program a rule into TextMagic to send a keyword-specific auto-response and to add that number to a specific list (whether a new or existing one). The platform supports MMS messages, letting you schedule both SMS and MMS messages for the times of your choice. Custom fields allow you to personalize messages and to create more detailed segments for your marketing contact lists.

The TextMagic interface is fluid, clean, and easy to use – but in case you do need help navigating the platform, its website has a generous selection of support articles and videos, and the customer service team is available 18 hours a day on weekdays. TextMagic is built upon a solid REST API framework, meaning that integrations with thousands of other apps and software platforms are available through Zapier. 

The intuitive analytics tool provides in-depth analysis of your campaigns’ performance. You can even monitor individual team members’ use of the platform and download reports as CSV or Excel files.

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

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Salesmsg is a streamlined, user-friendly, and efficient platform for bulk SMS and one-on-one messaging with customers.
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Granular segmentation is an easy process.
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It's an expensive option if you send more than 25,000 texts a month.

Salesmsg is a feature-rich, user-friendly text message marketing service. It offers its best value to businesses that want to send 5,000 to 25,000 text messages a month. Although it’s slightly more expensive for this range of messages than other providers, we chose Salesmsg as the best for high-volume communications because of how many features you get for the price.

Editor’s score: 8/10

Salesmsg’s standout features include shared inboxes, custom and merge fields, conversation archives, private conversation between team members, video messages, dynamic segmentation, contact notes, and integrations with more than 1,500 apps via Zapier. It also has custom integrations for ActiveCampaign, Keap, HubSpot, Pipedrive, Aircall, Marketo, and CRM systems like HubSpot. The platform even has built-in ticketing and quote funnels – something we didn’t find with most competitors.

Salesmsg’s service plans start at $25 per month for 500 credits, ranging up to $249 per month for 7,500 credits. If you want to send more than 10,000 a month, the company will create a custom quote for you.

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Pricing

Prices for text message marketing services vary by provider. Some charge per text, but most charge by the month, with this fee covering a certain number of texts and keywords for campaigns, depending on the plan you select. Free plans are available, but they are extremely limited in what you can do with them.

Adding more users, keywords, numbers, and features may incur one-time or monthly charges, depending on the provider. Try to make a list of exactly what you want to do with text marketing, and ask providers to quote you for that.

Bottom LineBottom Line: The cheapest SMS marketing plan we saw, from Textedly, costs $24 per month and includes 1,200 monthly texts. The most expensive plan we found was from TextMagic, costing $1,999 for just over 66,600 messages 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 drawbacks. The direct, personal nature of text messaging is a double-edged sword in that it provides an excellent opportunity to speak directly with your customers, but some customers may find marketing texts annoying or invasive, particularly if you text them at inconvenient times or too often. [Related article: 12 Best Ways to Use Business Texting]

Pros

  • The conversion rates tend to be much higher than what you’d get with email.
  • People quickly open, read and respond to texts.
  • The cost per contact is minimal, making it 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 tools.

Cons

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

Did you know?Did you know? Data shows that 2.2 trillion SMS and MMS messages were sent in 2020 in the U.S., according to Statista.

Regulations for Text Message Marketing

Be sure to follow text message marketing laws and best practices. Pay attention to your provider’s own guidelines and recommended use policies in addition to the applicable laws.

TCPA

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act is overseen by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission. It outlines the laws you must abide by when collecting contacts and sending text messages. Not everything in the TCPA applies to text message marketing, but you should review the regulations specific to texting to ensure that you comply.

One TCPA requirement is that you get permission from each contact before you send text messages to them. Another is that you only send texts between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. (in the recipient’s time zone, not yours).

CTIA and MMA

The Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association and the Mobile Marketing Association provide guidance to companies on the appropriate use of text message marketing to consumers. Although these guidelines are not laws, they are considered best practices. Here are some of them:

  • Don’t use the term “free” unless what you’re offering 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 on 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 the consumer’s opt-in approval before sending messages to them.
  • Provide an easy mechanism to unsubscribe.
  • 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.

FYIFYI: You can be fined $500 to $1,500 for every illegal text message you send. All the services we reviewed have active programs to help you stay on the right side of the regulations.

Advantages of Text Message Marketing

The prime benefit of text message marketing is, of course, the chance to communicate directly with customers, but it has various other key benefits.

High Open Rate

SMS marketing has a much higher open rate than email marketing – 98%, according to a 2021 Birdeye report. This means most recipients will see your messages.

Cost-Effective Marketing Method

Text messaging is a low-cost way to market your business. The number of texts included in monthly plans is often quite generous and above what most companies actually need. A few pay-as-you-go options are available too.

Ability to Be Where the Customer Is

Customers now expect you to be available in-store, online, on social media, on messaging apps, and by text. Nearly all Americans – 97%, according to Pew Research Center – carry a cell phone that they check multiple times a day. This ensures you can reach them, whether they are in front of a computer or not.

Part of a Multichannel Marketing Strategy

Text messaging doesn’t need to be your entire marketing effort – it 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.

Features

Text message marketing services should do much more than send texts. They should help you find your target audiences, engage with them, and track how they interact with your messages.

Consider the features below, deciding which ones will be of high value to your business. Then compare the providers you select to quote you for how well they will deliver on what you need.

  • Analytics and reports: You can improve your future campaign performance when your texting platform tracks responses and other metrics, showing you what went well and what didn’t with your current and past 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: 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 they only include active numbers.
  • Customization: You can make your campaigns more successful by personalizing each text message to its recipient. Look for providers that allow you to target your messages based on data like a customer’s full name, birthday and ZIP code.
  • Drip campaigns: Drip campaigns are automated customer journeys with actions triggered by conditions you set. For example, a welcome text goes out when a customer subscribes, and they receive a thank-you message when they make their first purchase.
  • Free incoming text messages: It’s important to show customers that you’re open to a dialogue and allow them to respond to your messages. The best services don’t charge you when a customer texts you back.
  • Integrations: Most text message platforms can integrate with other software, such as email marketing tools like Mailchimp and Constant Contact, allowing you to sync data and functions seamlessly.
  • Message templates: Templates for your most common message types can save you a lot of time. Look for a provider with templates you can use as inspiration for your campaigns. It should also allow you to create your own templates and keep them at your fingertips.
  • Multimedia messaging: MMS messages allow you to send pictures, videos, and audio clips as well as up to 1,600 characters of text.
  • Mobile keywords: Your provider should allow you to choose multiple keywords (based on your plan) to reflect different tastes and preferences among your customers. A new subscriber will choose the keyword that best reflects the products and services they want to receive messages about.
  • Scheduling: Many platforms allow you to schedule text messages in advance to your target audiences. It’s best practice to plan campaigns weeks ahead, and scheduling allows you to set up these future campaigns and make sure they go out to customers at the optimal times.
  • Surveys: The best services make it easy to gather customer feedback with polls and surveys. Learn how to use SMS polling for your business.
  • 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.

Did you know?Did you know? SMS marketing is still on the rise. Projections from Juniper Research show that businesses will have delivered a combined 3.5 trillion texts by 2023, marking a 40% increase from 2019’s 2.5 trillion.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is text message marketing effective?

Text message marketing is an effective, quick and easy way to reach customers. As EZ Texting found in the 2019 Mobile Usage Report, 97% of text messages are read within three minutes of being received. Unlike with emails, nearly every person you send a text will see it. Personalized text marketing messages are particularly effective, as they make customers feel seen and appreciated.

When should businesses use text message marketing?

Businesses should use text message marketing to distribute offers and incentives to their audiences, which drives new sales. You can also use them to provide business updates (like changes in your store hours) or invite customers to an event on your premises.

TipTip: To maximize responses and minimize unsubscribes, send text messages only during normal business hours (9 a.m. to 6 p.m.) in the customer’s time zone.

Why is text message marketing important?

Text message marketing is important because it gives you a clear, dedicated line of communication with your customers. It’s a direct channel where you can keep up levels of engagement, increase customer satisfaction, and build your brand reputation.

How do I set up text message marketing for my business?

Setup varies between providers, but the process usually comprises six basic steps:

  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?

The employees you want to help you with text message marketing will first need to know the law. Focus your training on that as well as how to use the platform you select. Some key lessons are how to create campaigns, choose contacts, manage analytics and troubleshoot minor issues.

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

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 and build customer loyalty.

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

For better customer retention, keep your subscribers in the loop about deals, opportunities and news from your business. Use these texts to keep your brand front of mind for loyal customers and incentivize them to keep buying from you.

What do text message marketing services typically cost?

Text message marketing services typically cost a monthly fee that ranges from $20 for 1,200 texts to $2,000 for 66,600 texts. Your price will largely depend on the number of messages and keywords your business requires each month.

Is text message marketing legal?

Yes, it is legal to send messages to customers via SMS – as long as you follow the FCC’s guidelines. The two primary governing laws are the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and the CAN-SPAM Act, which seek to protect consumers from unsolicited messages if they opt out or block a number. Penalties range from $500 to $1,500 per violation.

What is the best way to get consent from customers to send them text messages?

If you want to send marketing text messages to customers, you must obtain express written consent for each number on your marketing list. According to the TCPA, the terms of consent must be “clear and conspicuous.” In other words, a recipient must understand exactly what they are agreeing to when they provide their phone number. The most common way to get consent is by asking a consumer to provide their phone number on an online or paper form that includes the required terms.

Do consumers actually open text messages?

Consumers actually open around 98% of texts they receive on their phones, according to research by MessageMedia, proving the effectiveness of text message marketing. For comparison, the average email open rate is around 20%. While email marketing still generates great returns, there is a strong argument – particularly for B2C companies – to shift some expenditure over to text message marketing and see if it gets a higher response rate for your business.

How can I track my text message marketing campaigns?

Most text marketing platforms will show you the number of messages you’ve sent, the number of messages delivered (if a recipient’s carrier supports that function), and the number of bounces (failed deliveries due to network issues or a number no longer being in service). You can also include links with tracking codes in your texts to track how many subscribers visit a webpage as a result of your message.

What to Expect in 2022 and Beyond

The COVID-19 pandemic had a big effect on text messaging in general. In the 2021 State of Texting Report by Twilio’s Zipwhip, 50% of American respondents said they sent more texts than usual during the pandemic, and 1 in 3 businesses adopted SMS marketing at the same time to share information on closures, new protocols and policy changes. These changes in communication, once considered temporary, seem to be permanent business fixtures in 2022.

But companies that use text message marketing as a primary means of communication with customers should be aware of a major industry change happening this year. Cellular network carriers have implemented a new rule requiring U.S. and Canada-based businesses that use toll-free numbers (numbers that start with 800, 888, 877, 866, 855, 844 or 833) to verify that number to continue sending text messages.

Companies should plan to verify their toll-free number as soon as possible to ensure their text messages are not filtered as spam. The verification form can typically be found online through your text message marketing service provider. Certain providers have set their own deadlines for verification, but most are giving customers until September 30, 2022 to complete the process.

Research indicates that the shift to SMS is here to stay, which is why it’s important to protect this outreach method by verifying your toll-free number. When businesses include links in their text messages, the click-through rate is 80%, according to Voyage SMS, as opposed to email marketing’s 2.62%. The challenge for companies is to build their subscriber lists and segment those lists accurately so that consumers only receive text messages on offers they want to know about.

Mark Fairlie
Mark Fairlie
business.com Contributing Writer
Mark Fairlie has written extensively on business finance, business development, M&A, accounting, tax, cybersecurity, sales and marketing, SEO, investments, and more for clients across the world for the past five years. Prior to that, Mark owned one of the largest independent managed B2B email and telephone outsourcing companies in the UK prior to selling up in 2015.
Image Credit: Chainarong Prasertthai / Getty Images
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