business.com receives compensation from some of the companies listed on this page. Advertising Disclosure
BDC Hamburger Icon

MENU

Close
BDC Logo
Search Icon

Looking for more options?

Check out The business.com recommends.

Updated May 17, 2024

Podium Text Message Marketing Review and Pricing

Mark Fairlie
Mark Fairlie, Senior Analyst & Expert on Business Ownership
Verified CheckEditor Verified
Verified Check
Editor Verified
Close
A business.com editor verified this analysis to ensure it meets our standards for accuracy, expertise and integrity.

Table of Contents

Open row
Editors Score:8.4/10
Podium is ideal for local businesses that want to combine text message marketing and online review management in one platform. You can run short message service (SMS) campaigns, have video conversations and encourage customers to post positive reviews to bolster your brand.
Thumbs Up Pros
  • Unlimited one-to-one text messages are a part of every Podium plan.
  • Podium's deep connectivity with Google and other review platforms is impressive as is its ability to ask customers directly to join your text message marketing lists after they leave a review.
  • AI has been smartly woven into the service, from generating text marketing campaigns to thanking customers for leaving a review.
  • The platform has various tools to encourage people to subscribe to your messaging list.
Thumbs Down Cons
  • Podium doesn't integrate with Yelp, one of the most popular review platforms.
  • The inability to group subscribers automatically by keyword means more manual work and is a puzzling omission for such a well-thought-out dashboard.
  • Many of the platform's most useful AI features are not available on the lowest tier.
  • No multimedia messaging service (MMS) support is available on Podium, which is surprising given that MMS campaigns can lead to higher conversion rates.

To win your community’s business and loyalty, you must stay in touch with local customers, tempt newcomers with great offers and persuade your regulars to post positive reviews to prompt new clients to choose you over competitors. We found Podium to be the best text messaging service for serving local markets because it allows businesses to leverage the power of local reviews and text messaging on the same platform, driving sales and increasing brand loyalty. The platform’s smart artificial intelligence (AI) functions make marketing and review generation even easier for businesses and their target audiences. 

Podium Editor's Rating:

8.4 / 10

Pricing
8/10
Ease of use
9/10
Functionality
9/10
Segmentation
8/10
Customer service
8/10

Why We Chose Podium for Businesses Serving Local Markets

Podium is an excellent text message marketing provider for established single- or multilocation businesses that rely on local customers and the community’s goodwill for the bulk of their sales. Setting up bulk messages to — and having one-on-one conversations with — customers is easy and quick on this straightforward platform.

Podium also offers a highly intuitive way to solicit, manage and respond to online reviews on Google, Facebook and other sites — a critical feature when building trust with your local community. According to Brand Rated, 95 percent of consumers read online reviews before buying something, with slightly more than two-thirds saying they only trust high ratings if a potential supplier boasts numerous reviews. 

With Podium, you can manage online reviews across multiple platforms directly. Additionally, its integration with messaging services, including SMS, Facebook, Instagram and Google, makes Podium unique in the review management marketplace. For example, let’s say you see a Google review you don’t recognize. You can reach out to the reviewer directly via Podium, thank them for the review and invite them to join your texting list. 

For these and many other reasons, Podium is our choice for the best text message marketing service for businesses that serve local markets.

Did You Know?Did you know
As a bonus, along with helping you gain consumer trust, positive customer reviews online help you improve your search rankings.
Podium messaging

Podium makes it easy to manage all your messages in one location. Source: Podium

FYIDid you know
Google has been a part-owner of Podium since an investment in 2017 through its GV subsidiary.

Ease of Use

We found Podium very straightforward to use. When you log in to Podium, you’re greeted by your inbox, where you can check incoming messages and reply to customers. You can access your contacts, marketing area, payment dashboard and campaign reports easily from the top of the screen. We like that an always-on blue button gives you immediate access to your inbox, review feed, campaign center, contact list and payment options. This tidy and uncluttered layout makes for a very pleasant user experience overall.

Syncing contacts with Podium is faster and more straightforward than with many competitors. You can upload a comma-separated values file with up to 100,000 contacts or rows less than 5MB in size. As with opt-in email marketing rules, you must check a box to confirm that each contact has agreed to receive promotional messages. We like that you can segment your list across various branches or areas. 

We also appreciate that the site’s knowledge base link is permanently placed in the top navigation bar. The knowledge base has eight help sections on the following subjects:

  • Setting up your account
  • Creating automations
  • Running bulk messaging campaigns
  • Using your inbox to send one-on-one messages
  • Taking payments
  • Using the in-built voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) system
  • Managing reviews
  • Setting up and using the webchat widget

Podium smartly separates its over 200 custom-built integrations into five industry sectors for easy identification: automotive, healthcare and dental, retail and hospitality, home services and financial and professional services. Public application programming interfaces are available for companies that want to develop their own integrations. However, if creating your own integrations sounds complicated, check out our review of SimpleTexting. This platform builds custom integrations for its customers.

TipBottom line
Podium integrates with some of the best customer relationship management (CRM) platforms, including Salesforce and HubSpot, along with top accounting package QuickBooks (read our QuickBooks review for more information).
Podium review invites

You can send review invitations to customers directly and reply to their reviews in Podium Source: Podium

Podium Features

Podium comes with a bevy of intuitive features, depending on the service level you choose for your business.

List-building Tools

Podium supports keywords, which allow subscribers to join texting lists for products and services they’re interested in. For example, a fashion boutique might choose “BAGS” or “SHOES” as keywords. A subscriber chooses a keyword that interests them to help you send them relevant offers. However, unlike its competition, Podium doesn’t automatically group new subscribers by keyword. Instead, you must tag a user’s listing manually to indicate which campaign they came from after they’ve joined. This is a surprising annoyance and makes building messaging lists more complex than it needs to be.

Meanwhile, we were impressed that creating website widgets to increase messaging signups took us 20 seconds. Podium will install the widget directly on your site if you have shareable logins. Alternatively, the vendor can email you the code and installation instructions. The platform supports several web-building tools, including BigCommerce, Duda, GoDaddy, Joomla, Shopify, Wix and WordPress.

Podium offers other list-building tools, including quick response codes, pop-up boxes and social media links. Additionally, it has an excellent YouTube video on building subscriber numbers, including suggestions like having a dedicated laptop in your store where people can sign up and how to capture cell phone details from clients who’ve just purchased something.

Did You Know?Did you know
Podium doesn't have a subkeyword feature. As we explain in our review of EZ Texting, subkeywords qualify subscribers' interest further in your products and services. For example, if you run an Italian takeout eatery, you could have "PIZZA" as the keyword and "WHITE" as the subkeyword, helping customers express their interest in a particular type of pizza.

Contact Management

We like Podium’s robust contact management features, including the following: 

  • Detailed subscriber directory: Select the Contacts tab to see a subscriber directory, including names, cell numbers, email addresses, record creation dates and tags. When you select a contact’s name, their history appears on the right side of the screen, including previous conversations and reviews they’ve written. You can also add, delete or amend tags, helping you segment customers for future marketing campaigns and request payments when appropriate.
  • Centralized interactions: We love how Podium centralizes every customer’s or prospect’s text message conversations and other interactions. This function makes it much easier for sales and customer service representatives to understand clients’ needs and issues if they contact you.
  • Built-in VoIP: The system also includes a built-in VoIP system for making and receiving calls from your desktop or mobile app. You can forward and transfer calls to co-workers and place customers on hold. We were very impressed by how, at the end of a call, the system’s AI will create a bulleted summary of the conversation and add it to the customer’s history.
  • Date-based automations: We appreciated Podium’s addition of date-based automations, allowing you to send birthday messages to customers with special offers or discount coupons. You can also schedule appointment follow-ups.
  • Customer tagging: We like that Podium lets you tag customers at different parts of the customer journey, allowing you to create and manage the sales pipeline better. Thanks to its automation capabilities, you can task team members with particular actions, such as pursuing payment, alerting customers to a product’s arrival or reminding a client of an upcoming appointment. We found it very easy to automate lead assignments to help your sales team respond as quickly as possible.
Podium contacts

Podium offers easy access to your contacts list and centralizes all pertinent data. Source: Podium

Text Marketing Campaigns

Brands use text message marketing to launch effective campaigns and templates can streamline the process. Podium is one of two platforms we reviewed that helpfully include marketing templates on their campaign pages. Podium has four sets of templates: coupon codes, product promos, service promos and icebreakers.

We like that it’s easy to start new marketing campaigns by selecting Marketing > Bulk Messages > Create bulk message. Next, you’ll name the campaign, select subscribers, write your messages and schedule the campaign.

Multifunctional Inbox 

We love how Podium has one inbox where you can access text, email, phone, web chat, Instagram and Facebook messages. You can send leads from other platforms directly to your Podium inbox so all inquiries and service requests are easy to locate and answer.

You can also use the software to communicate with customers directly through Apple’s Messages for Business, Google Messages and web-based Podium contact forms.

Google’s partial ownership of Podium offers exciting possibilities. If someone selects the Message button on your Google Business Profile, their message appears in your Podium inbox as do messages from Apple Maps users who do the same.

Custom, Template and AI Responses

We found that responding to messages is more intuitive on Podium than on many other platforms we investigated. We like that you can access extra functions under the text box, such as adding attachments, to make responding to messages quicker. You can write custom responses or use a template if you need inspiration.

Unlike many rivals, Podium doesn’t require you to leave the page to access templates. However, we would have liked the ability to save a current message as a template.

Podium’s AI integration further impressed us here, helping users create and respond to messages. For example, on the web chatbot, a new conversation will appear in real time and you, the AI or a combination of both can manage it. 

Podium AI functions

Podium’s AI functions can help you craft responses to customer messages. Source: Podium

Review Management

In addition to responding to messages and reviews, we like that you can use Podium to encourage clients to leave a review. Write a short message to a customer and select Review Invitation. The recipient will see a short URL in their message that takes them to a webpage where they can leave a review. The default option is for a Google review.

In the dashboard’s Reporting section, you can check where reviews originate and see overall rating scores on each platform. We like that you can directly message customers who have left a review to ask them to opt into your text message lists. AI can assist you in crafti/articles/respond-to-all-your-online-reviews/”>respond to online reviews appropriately.

We like how users can choose from a wide range of third-party review sites, from general sites like DealerRate, GoodBed and Yellow Pages to more specific sites like Angi and Thumbtack for home services businesses.

TipBottom line
Podium helps you manage your online reputation via connections to many different review sites — but Yelp isn't yet an option.
Podium review tracking

You can track and manage your reviews across multiple sites with Podium. Source: Podium

Video Chat

We liked Podium’s unique video chat feature. Let’s say you run an antiques store and want to promote something particularly rare to subscribers. After sending a marketing text about it, a potential client texts you back, saying they want to see the item but can’t make it into your store today. They don’t want to lose the chance of buying it, so time is of the essence. Suggest a video call in your reply. If the customer agrees, Podium will send them a link to initiate a video chat immediately. No software downloads are necessary, making this feature even more appealing.

Payment Processing

We like that Podium facilitates accepting SMS payments. Send a customer a text with a link to Podium’s dedicated secure payment page. They’ll see what they owe and can pay their bill with a credit or debit card. If you accept payments this way, the credit card processing fees are as follows, depending on your plan.

Payment method or feature

Core plan

Pro plan

Signature plan

Payment via link sent by text

2.6% and 30 cents

2.55% and 30 cents 

2.55% and 30 cents

Card-present transactions

2.2% and 15 cents

2.15% and 15 cents 

2.15% and 15 cents

Keyed-in transactions

2.9% and 30 cents

2.9% and 30 cents 

2.9% and 30 cents

Card on file

2.6% and 30 cents

2.55% and 30 cents 

2.55% and 30 cents

Affirm Pay Over Time (installment option)

6% and 30 cents

6% and 30 cents 

6% and 30 cents

Bank transfer payments are also available at $5 per transaction; international payments are an additional 1 percent of the transaction cost.

TipBottom line
If you're concerned about credit card fraud, you can take out premium fraud protection for 0.65 percent of the transaction cost. This covers fraudulent chargebacks made by email or text.

Analytics

Podium boasts impressive analytics functions that can ultimately help you increase sales via text messaging. The Analytics dashboard details your inbound sales leads, the median time it takes your team to respond to messages and the total number of conversations by month and year. However, we were disappointed that, unlike other platforms, there’s no option to set a custom date range to run reports. That said, we appreciate that Podium lets you run reports on your online reviews and customer payments. You can even track employee performance and identify training opportunities.

Podium offers two types of analytical leaderboards: 

  • Employee Leaderboard: The Employee Leaderboard helps managers understand how well employees are performing, including how long they take to respond, how many customers they’ve spoken to, their feedback scores, how many review invites they’ve sent and the number of review invites that turned into actual reviews.
  • Location Leaderboard: The Location Leaderboard provides insights into each location’s performance, keeping updated metrics on inbound leads, first response time, total conversations, review invites, reviews garnered, average review ratings and more.

Podium Pricing

Podium’s three subscription options are as follows: 

Feature

Core

Pro

Signature

Monthly price

$399

$599

Custom

Number of team members

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

One-on-one text messages

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Bulk messages

250

500

Custom

Phone numbers included

5

15

Custom

Conversation history

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Voicemail transcriptions

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Facebook, Instagram and Google Messaging

Y

Y

Y

Custom message templates

Y

Y

Y

Text-based surveys

N

Y

Y

Phone seats

$30 per user, per month (1-4), $25 (5+)

$30 per user, per month (1-4), $25 (5+)

Custom

AI phone call summaries

Y

Y

Y

AI suggested replies and review responses

Y

Y

Y

Review and payment reminder automation

Y

Y

Y

Agreement and post-purchase automation

Y

Y

Y

Automated AI review responses and text marketing

N

Y

Y

Auto-assignment of messages to available team members

N

N

Y

Auto-assignment of messages to team members by topic

N

N

Y

Additional phone numbers cost $5 per month; you can request a higher bulk message limit for an additional fee. No free trial is available, but the company offers a free demo.

TipBottom line
If you operate on a smaller scale and aren't interested in gathering online reviews, Podium might not be cost-effective. As you can see in our review of Textedly, 500 texts would cost $26 on that platform, but 500 texts on Podium would set you back $599 per month.

Implementation and Onboarding

Account setup for Podium is simple and free. You’ll receive an email from the platform inviting you to accept its invitation. Select the link and follow the on-screen instructions to get started. You’ll also input general account information on your business that you can later edit if necessary.

If you already know Podium is right for your business and want to begin onboarding your team, this is one of the easier platforms we’ve reviewed for adding extra users: Go to account settings and select Users > Invite users. A pop-up appears where you can enter employees’ email addresses or phone numbers. You can assign each new user as a supervisor or staff member.

What makes implementation even easier is that you control Podium in your web browser. You don’t need to download separate applications to use the platform. 

We were impressed that all subscribers get a personalized one-on-one onboarding manager initially, followed by a dedicated customer success manager. An integration support team is available if you want to integrate Podium into your other business apps. 

Customer Support

Podium’s customer support options are on par with those of other vendors we’ve reviewed. Your dashboard inbox is your initial point of contact — send the vendor a message if you need assistance. Telephone, text and chat support are available during regular business hours; Pro and Signature clients benefit from a priority queue for faster service. 

Podium’s knowledge base has around 100 well-written, easy-to-follow articles split into 12 categories. An extensive YouTube library has over 100 videos containing tutorials and customer success stories.

Limitations

Podium has many compelling benefits, but we did identify the following limitations: 

  • No Yelp integration: Podium doesn’t integrate with Yelp, which is somewhat shocking when you consider the review site’s popularity. While plenty of Yelp alternatives exist, the lack of a Yelp integration could sway you to a competing vendor if Yelp is a big part of your marketing strategy. It’s worth noting that Yelp forbids businesses from asking for reviews, which may be why it’s absent from the Podium platform.
  • Relatively high price: The minimum Podium package costs $399 a month. If all you want to do is text, more cost-effective options exist. 
  • No automatic tagging: Most text messaging marketing platforms group subscribers initially by the keywords they opt in with but Podium doesn’t. Instead, you must watch for keywords and tag customers with them in your inbox, which can be frustrating. An automatic tagging feature would save time organizing contacts and building subscriber lists.
  • No MMS: The complete omission of MMS from the platform is a mystery. When it comes to SMS vs. MMS for marketing campaigns, MMS offers significant advantages. If MMS is important to you, check out our Twilio review.

Methodology

We spent several weeks researching the top text messaging service providers to determine the best solutions. As part of our analysis, we looked at ease of use, features, pricing, customer support and integration options. To determine the best text messaging service for local markets specifically, we evaluated granular list segmentation capabilities, campaign analytics and tools available to help a business build subscriber lists.

FAQs

Podium is an online communication and reviews management platform that allows companies to send one-to-one and bulk text messages to clients. Clients can also respond to these messages; their messages appear in Podium's inbox.
To send a mass text in Podium, you must have a contact database. Select Marketing from the top menu and choose Create bulk message. Next, select your contacts, write the message and send or schedule it for delivery.
Yes. A direct integration between Podium and Shopify can help you collect customer reviews, send feedback requests, send order status updates and sync new contacts into Podium.

Bottom Line

We recommend Podium for …

  • Established one-branch businesses that want to drive sales and attract positive reviews from their local community.
  • Multibranch companies that want to increase local community connections, drive sales and attract positive reviews.
  • Businesses without a CRM that want to centralize communications and lead-gathering on one platform.

We don’t recommend Podium for …

  • Startups or very small local businesses that want to send small volumes of texts.
  • Mail order or internet retailers that can find cheaper alternatives for SMS communication.
  • Companies that want to use MMS as part of their marketing mix.
Mark Fairlie
Mark Fairlie, Senior Analyst & Expert on Business Ownership
Mark Fairlie brings decades of expertise in telecommunications and telemarketing to the forefront as the former business owner of a direct marketing company. Also well-versed in a variety of other B2B topics, such as taxation, investments and cybersecurity, he now advises fellow entrepreneurs on the best business practices. With a background in advertising and sales, Fairlie made his mark as the former co-owner of Meridian Delta, which saw a successful transition of ownership in 2015. Through this journey, Fairlie gained invaluable hands-on experience in everything from founding a business to expanding and selling it. Since then, Fairlie has embarked on new ventures, launching a second marketing company and establishing a thriving sole proprietorship.
BDC Logo

Get Weekly 5-Minute Business Advice

B. newsletter is your digest of bite-sized news, thought & brand leadership, and entertainment. All in one email.

Back to top