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The Best Text Message Marketing Services of 2022

By
Max Freedman
,
Business News Daily Contributing Writer
| Updated
Dec 05, 2022

Learn about our picks for the best text message marketing services for small businesses in 2022.
Best for Scalability
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12 pricing plans
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High monthly message caps
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Highly competitive prices
Best for Advanced Features
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Native Shutterstock integration
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Web signup forms
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Open API
Best for Customization
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Unlimited custom keywords
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Free in-house custom integrations
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Dedicated account manager
Best for Customer Relationship Management
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Native Google Business integration
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Webchat widget
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Customer feedback surveys
Best for Service Providers
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Thryv
Learn about our picks for the best text message marketing services for small businesses in 2022.

  • Text message marketing makes it easy to communicate directly with customers and send out newsletters, coupons, special deals or announcements with just a few clicks.
  • Look for a provider that offers a reasonable number of monthly or annual text messages and free keywords for your business.
  • Based on our findings, SimpleTexting is the most customizable text message marketing service, Textedly is the most scalable, and ProTexting is the easiest to use. Podium is our top pick for CRM-based text messaging, and EZ Texting is best for advanced features.
  • This article is for small business owners looking for an easy way to connect directly with their customers.

According to the Pew Research Center, 97% of adult Americans have a cell phone capable of receiving text messages. As time spent on phones continues to increase, it’s no surprise that businesses are pursuing text message marketing campaigns. There are dozens of quality services on the market, but a few stand out, especially for small businesses looking to please subscribers. We researched 13 text message marketing services and chose our five best picks based on their features, pricing, ease of use, setup process and customer service.

Compare Our Best Picks

Text message marketing system Editor’s score Best use case Free trial Starting price Text messages per month Keywords Customer service
Textedly 92/100 Scalability Yes $24 per month 1,000-240,000 1-50

8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT M-F

9 a.m. to 2 p.m. CT Saturdays

Phone, live chat, text, email

SimpleTexting 90/100 Customization Yes $29 per month 500-50,000 Unlimited

8 a.m. to midnight ET M-F

10 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET weekends

Phone, live chat

ProTexting 91/100 Ease of use No $49 per month 1,000-27,000 1-15

9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET M-F

Phone, live chat, email

Podium 92/100 Customer relationship management Yes $289 per month Unlimited Unlimited

9 a.m. to midnight ET M-F

Phone, live chat

EZ Texting 86/100 Advanced features Yes $19 per month, plus credits for all text messages after 200 200 included, with small fees for additional messages 1 to unlimited

9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET M-F

Phone, live chat, email

TextMarks 85/100 Customer service No $219 per month 10,000-100,000 15 to unlimited

7 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT M-F

Phone, live chat, email

SlickText 84/100 Customer loyalty Yes $29 per month 500-50,000 2-30

8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET M-F

12-4 p.m. ET Saturday

Phone, live chat, email

Twilio 85/100 Marketing analytics Yes $0.0075 per message Unlimited Unlimited N/A
Tatango 83/100 High-volume messaging No Custom Custom Custom N/A
Zingle 80/100 Hospitality Yes Custom Custom Custom

5 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT M-F

6 a.m. to 12 p.m. PT weekends

Live chat, email

Thryv 84/100 Service providers No Custom Custom Custom

24/7

Phone, live chat, email

TextMagic 85/100 Pay-as-you-go Yes $0.03 per text Unlimited Unlimited

6 a.m. to 11 p.m. UTC M-F

9 a.m. to 3 p.m. UT weekends

Phone, live chat, email

Salesmsg 84/100 Dual SMS and voice calling Yes $25 per month 500-10,000 Unlimited No hours specified

Our Reviews

Textedly: Best Text Message Marketing Service for Scalability

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Textedly is great for businesses that want their text message marketing service to grow with them.
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Textedly is also great for businesses on a tight marketing budget.
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Textedly's custom keyword maximums rank among the lowest of the brands we reviewed.

Textedly is an effective SMS marketing tool with flexible, scalable text message marketing tools for any type or size of business. It offers these features across 12 pricing plans spanning 1,200 to 240,000 monthly messages, always with especially low prices. That means the platform can easily grow alongside your business, making it our top pick for scalability.

Editor’s score: 92/100

Textedly has a user-friendly dashboard and valuable features such as custom keywords, free incoming text messages, contact management tools and a reporting suite. Textedly apps include Instagram texting, drip campaigns and autoresponders. Multimedia messages for images and videos are also available.

You can schedule campaigns in advance with Textedly’s intuitive calendar feature. The calendar can schedule a single text message or a group of messages to go out at any time you need.

Textedly charges on a month-to-month subscription basis, or you can pay annually for access to 20% more text messages per month. You get a 14-day free trial, during which you can set one custom keyword. Paid plans start at $24 per month for 1,200 text messages with one custom keyword. The highest tier costs $2,800 per month and includes 240,000 text messages.

Read Textedly Review

EZ Texting: Best Text Message Marketing Service for Advanced Features

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EZ Texting's native Shutterstock integration is one of a kind for businesses looking to use multimedia messages in their marketing.
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EZ Texting's advanced features also include web signup forms, an open API and a link shortener.
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EZ Texting is among the most expensive platforms we reviewed for the number of messages you get.

A user-friendly interface and an assortment of features make EZ Texting our selection as the best text message marketing solution for advanced features. Its native Shutterstock integration is a standout among its fantastic selection of tools. This integration automatically suggests high-quality stock images to add to your multimedia messages in one click, based on what your message says. We haven’t encountered anything like it in another service.

Editor’s score: 86/100

With this new partnership, EZ Texting customers have access to more than 20 million high-resolution, royalty-free Shutterstock images. You can add these fully customizable images to a predesigned MMS marketing campaign template to engage your recipients with more eye-catching marketing materials. This integration also allows you to upload your business’s own photos and create custom campaigns with the image editor.

EZ Texting’s other advanced tools include an open API, web signup forms and a link shortener. While other text messaging platforms offer advanced features, EZ Texting offers the most. Even its elementary features feel advanced – the messaging history view you can access from your inbox feels clearer and more familiar than with other brands.

The cheapest EZ Texting plan starts at $19. The most expensive plan costs $299 a month and allows unlimited keywords. All plans come with 200 credits – SMS messages cost one credit, MMS messages three – and additional credits cost a few pennies each.

EZ Texting’s client interface is intuitive and doesn’t take long to learn, which is an important consideration in a text message marketing service. The customization aspects are also a plus, as it’s easy to make your recipients feel special by sending them personalized messages. EZ Texting makes text message marketing feel more like a genuine interaction compared to other SMS services.

Read EZ Texting Review

SimpleTexting: Best Text Messaging Service for Customization

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SimpleTexting allows you to create an unlimited number of custom keywords.
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If integrations are important for your text message marketing experience, SimpleTexting's free custom in-house integrations for certain users make it a great choice.
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SimpleTexting is one of the few text message marketing services that still lack a QR code tool.

The first of these features is custom in-house integrations. At no extra charge, SimpleTexting’s in-house developers can build you whatever integrations you need, exactly how you want them. You’ll also be paired with a dedicated account manager who can help you develop custom marketing strategies. This hands-on assistance can help you distinguish yourself from the increasingly large pack of businesses that rely on text message marketing.

SimpleTexting’s segmentation and automation tools make it easy to customize your marketing campaigns to target the right audience at the right time. Its integration with Mailchimp lets you share contacts between your email marketing lists and text message marketing campaigns with similar ease. One-on-one direct messaging is also available, making communication with your customers and prospects efficient and straightforward. [Related article: How to Maintain an Email Marketing List]

With SimpleTexting, you purchase a package of credits to send prepaid messages. A standard SMS message costs one credit, while an MMS message costs three credits. The least expensive plan costs $29 per month for 500 credits. The most expensive plan offers 50,000 credits for $899 per month. (You can opt for annual payment to save 20% off the original plan price.) You’ll also get customization features at reasonable prices.

Read SimpleTexting Review

Podium: Best Text Message Marketing Service for Customer Relationship Management

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Podium's text message marketing strategy is ideal for any business primarily focused on customer relationship management and online reviews.
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Podium offers convenient customer feedback and payment options.
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Although Podium works exclusively with small businesses, many customers say its prices are unreasonable for small business budgets.

Podium is a great platform for improving customer engagement and driving conversions that doubles as text message marketing software, as you can also use it to stay in contact with your customers via text message. Podium is extremely easy to use and learn, so it takes minimal training to get your team up and running. It’s best for small businesses that want straightforward solutions for customer relationship management (CRM).

Editor’s score: 92/100

The core of Podium is its centralized dashboard, which serves as a hub for all your marketing communications, including text messages. A standout aspect of Podium is how it encourages your customers to leave reviews and allows you to respond to those reviews in real time. It can also support your sales pipeline, allowing you to store and manage contact information for leads and customers so you can communicate with them via text message. You can even use Podium to request customer payments through SMS – a convenient route, given how much time most customers spend on their phones.

The platform also offers marketing automation options that can make campaign-building easier for small business users. Thanks to a newly designed marketing automation dashboard, users can browse a portfolio of prebuilt automation templates — including review referral automation and website retargeting automation templates. These templates are applied through a simple setup that’s as easy as selecting automation, customizing it and turning it on with the click of a button. They can send relevant marketing messages — based on how a customer interacts with a business — in a timely, efficient manner so customers can have their needs addressed even when a representative is unavailable.

Podium can further improve your customer relationships with its webchat widget and customer feedback surveys. You can install this widget on your website so that customers can reach you at any time. Their messages will arrive in your inbox alongside standard text messages. The customer surveys can give you a sense of your Net Promoter Score and how to better serve your customers.

As part of the platform, users have access to Podium Voice. Podium Voice helps connect businesses that use Podium with their customers by centralizing data from every call and every message. When a customer contacts your business, you’ll be able to see that customer’s message history with your brand, including their previous transactions, before you respond. This kind of personalization matters to customers and will help small businesses make deeper connections within their communities.

Although Podium is the only platform we reviewed that includes these CRM features, its advanced nature doesn’t make it tough to use. Podium gives you a guided tour of the platform when you first use it so you can start sending texts and getting reviews from the jump. It’s more than a text message marketing service – it’s a way to keep your customers engaged and happy. [Related article: How CRM Benefits Marketing Campaigns]

Read Podium Review

Thryv: Best Text Message Marketing Service for Service Providers

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Streamlined appointment scheduling and calendar management make this SMS marketing service great for customer-facing companies.
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The clean interface aggregates your messages in one inbox.
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Thryv does not have transparent pricing or structured plans.

Thryv is an SMS marketing service that also provides a wide range of business management solutions. Its straightforward yet dynamic platform is capable of automating workflows while driving business growth. An uncomplicated interface puts all of your inbound and outbound messages in one place, integrating across services such as Instagram Direct Messenger, text, Facebook and email. You can request payments and reduce unpaid balances through Thryv’s bill pay portal and monitor your online reputation through automatic review requests and new comment notifications.

Editor’s score: 84/100

Thryv also allows users to view WebChat messages from the same platform. Users can take advantage of Thryv’s free WebChat service, which helps businesses attract new customers by providing an option for customers to reach out to a company directly at any time through their website. With WebChat, customers are prompted to provide contact information that can be used to turn them into a customer relationship management (CRM) contact or update their information. On top of that, businesses can easily connect with customers via a message button on Google Search and Maps. By connecting their Thryv inbox to their Google Business Profile, businesses can offer this button option so potential users can easily reach out and receive a prompt response.

Thryv’s streamlined calendar management and appointment scheduling tools are a compelling reason for customer-facing companies to engage. Entire teams can sync their agendas to help operations run smoothly. The dynamic booking tool allows you to arrange visits with ease. At the same time, automated reminders and follow-up appointment requests decrease the risk of no-shows and increase customer retention.

There are no structured plans at Thryv, meaning pricing varies on a case-by-case basis. You’ll need to contact a sales agent for a quote on a custom package perfect for your company type and messaging volume requirements. As is the general rule, reaching out near the end of a sales quarter may get you a better rate.

Thryv is a great choice for service providers who want a full suite of SMS marketing and business management tools in an uncomplicated interface.

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SlickText: Best Text Message Marketing Service for Customer Loyalty

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SlickText is a great choice for small businesses looking to build customer loyalty through text message marketing.
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SlickText's quick, easy setup is ideal for businesses new to SMS marketing.
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The three lowest-cost SlickText plans lack one-on-one onboarding.

SlickText is a low-cost, quick-setup text message marketing service with customer loyalty tools we haven’t seen elsewhere. You can use SlickText to run text-to-win contests, offer mobile coupons with unique coupon codes, and build a full-fledged loyalty rewards program.

Editor’s score: 84/100

Through SlickText’s contest tools, customers can text a keyword to enter your sweepstakes. The platform will automate your contests and randomly pick a winner. You can then send these customers SlickText’s mobile coupons, which are customizable to you and include POS barcode support. Embedded in these coupons are trackers that let you view analytics on your coupon after customers use it. SlickText can create a unique coupon code for each customer as well.

SlickText houses all these features in the loyalty program software that comes with your account. This program is easy to use, letting you run your loyalty program from right where you execute all your text message marketing campaigns. For both your marketing and loyalty initiatives, SlickText abounds with opportunities to schedule your messages in advance. This way, you can reach your customers at exactly the right time.

SlickText’s website includes videos explaining how to create an account, reserve a keyword and set up automatic replies. These explanations are clear and detailed enough for text messaging novices to understand – and readily accessible in case you forget how a function works. SlickText support staff is also available to answer your questions by toll-free phone number, email or live chat. Businesses of all sizes can benefit from SlickText’s full suite of options for any budget.

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ProTexting: Best Text Messaging Marketing Service for Ease of Use

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ProTexting is ideal for any business that wants straightforward basic features without all the bells and whistles.
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ProTexting is equally easy to use and navigate.
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ProTexting is somewhat limited in scope for its price point.

ProTexting couples a color-coded, clutter-free dashboard with user-friendly tools that show you what your customers will see on their phones. These are the two primary reasons we’ve chosen it as the best text message marketing service for ease of use.

Editor’s score: 91/100

The ProTexting dashboard shows metrics in the second row that are the same color as a certain item in the top row. This color correlation can help new text message marketing users understand the power of this marketing method. For example, the red coding visually connects your opt-out rate to your campaigns, showing you which campaigns aren’t working.

You can pull up all the most important ProTexting features from the dropdown menus on the left-hand side. That’s a lot easier than opening a tool that houses a bunch of smaller tools and trying to find the right one. All ProTexting tools are easy to use too, especially the messaging suite. There, you’ll see how your messages will look to customers as you create them. You can also add data tags, links and emojis in just one click each.

Although ProTexting lacks guided training and customization options, it’s so intuitive to navigate and use that you shouldn’t need any help or extra flexibility. Even its analytics tool – a space that can feel overwhelming on competing platforms – is full of clever visuals. ProTexting makes texting your customers – and understanding how and why you’re doing it – especially easy.

ProTexting also offers autoresponders for after-hours and holidays. This allows businesses to better serve their customers by sending an automated response when they are closed, providing alternative contact information, and letting them know when they will open back up for business. ProTexting users can activate the autoresponder with a certain SMS keyword of their choice. The after-hours and holiday hours feature can also be used alongside other automated messages. Simply choose the date range your business will be closed, and the autoresponder will inform your customers that you’re unavailable.

Read ProTexting Review

Twilio: Best Text Message Marketing Service for Marketing Analytics

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Twilio is perfect for enterprise businesses with customers in multiple countries.
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Twilio is also great for any company looking for robust analytics to back its text message marketing.
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Online reviews of Twilio's customer support are largely negative.

Twilio’s marketing analytics tools are some of the best among the SMS marketing providers we reviewed. The Messaging Insights interface allows you to dive deeper into your marketing strategies, examining important metrics that will define your future efforts. Advanced message delivery reports offer more profound looks at your engagement successes and areas that need improvement.

Editor’s score: 85/100

Twilio lets you filter your data by metrics such as time range, channel, carrier, country and delivery status. Other filters include messaging service, error code, subaccount and Twilio number. You can apply several filters at once – and several tags within each filter – to get more granular with your data. Of all the brands we reviewed, Twilio goes the furthest in breaking your data down into digestible, segmented groups.

Twilio offers four primary types of reports. Your overview report is a basic summary of your incoming and outgoing texts. Your delivery and error reports can pinpoint trouble areas in getting your messages to your customers. With the responses report, you can visualize and filter customer replies. Your OTP report shows you all the data you’ve provided Twilio about your successful one-time password messages.

Twilio recently invested a minority ownership stake in telecommunications company Syniverse.Twilio’s investment positions them to explore new mobile solutions and deepen their customer engagement.

Twilio uses a pay-as-you-go model for its text message marketing. Outbound and inbound texts in the U.S. start at less than 1 cent each (0.75 cents, to be exact). This payment model makes Twilio’s analytics competitively priced.

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Tatango: Best Text Message Marketing Service for High-Volume Messaging

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Tatango is great for high-volume alerts, capable of sending 6 million messages an hour.
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Tatango's high message capacity makes it especially great for political nonprofits.
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Businesses will need a custom package to sign up, likely including a contract.

Tatango offers impactful, real-time SMS marketing perfect for nonprofits, political campaigns, and businesses with especially large contact lists, enabling mass texting at breakneck speeds. Its clean and straightforward interface offers two-way messaging, advanced workflows, message analytics, segmentation and other tools necessary for effective engagement. The platform integrates with several dozen leading email marketing services and top CRM providers, making it simple to share contacts and communicate across platforms. You can communicate with your audience on your terms, helping your messages reach even more people.

Editor’s score: 83/100

Tatango is the best SMS marketing service for high-volume messaging thanks to its impressive performance with mass messages. It boasts the ability to send up to 6 million texts per hour – a remarkable feat for even the biggest messaging applications. The company prides itself on being the top choice for voter drives, offering tailored solutions to help campaigns cross the finish line.

There are no preset packages with Tatango; you must reach out directly to the sales department for pricing information. To negotiate the best rate, contact the company near the end of the month or the quarter. 

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Zingle: Best Text Message Marketing Service for Hospitality Businesses

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Zingle is a top choice for hotels and resorts that need to communicate with guests in real time.
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With Zingle's support for 90 languages, you can stay in touch with customers from around the world.
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Zingle's focus on hospitality makes it less effective for other verticals.

Medallia’s Zingle is a perfect SMS marketing platform for consumer-facing industries. It offers a brand-differentiated messaging portal meant to boost your client satisfaction and online reputation. Zingle’s all-in-one service streamlines the entire customer journey by providing appointment scheduling, automated campaign workflows, messaging analytics and segmentation. The option to connect it with your CRM makes importing contacts simple. You can work to retain current customers and reach new audiences in one easy-to-use interface.

Editor’s score: 80/100

Zingle’s powerful two-way messaging feature is one of the best among the SMS marketing providers we reviewed. Resorts can update guests or see if they have any needs, handling requests in real time with zero lag, and hospitals can keep in touch with patients right from their mobile devices. Zingle deploys impressive AI technology to understand message intent, which helps you offer the proper responses and get customers what they want when they want it. You can better connect with your hospitality company’s customers by integrating Zingle with leading third-party apps such as WeChat, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

There are no month-to-month packages for Zingle, so you need to reach out to a sales agent for custom plan rates. Free three-day trials with up to 1,000 messages are available with no contract necessary. To negotiate the best rate, call near the end of the month or quarter.

Zingle’s impressive two-way messaging and full suite of customer experience and marketing tools make it a fantastic choice for client-facing companies and hospitality operators seeking an efficient and easy-to-use solution.

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Salesmsg: Best Text Message Marketing Service for Dual SMS and Voice Calling

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Salesmsg includes voice calling at no extra charge alongside standard text message marketing features.
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Monthly plans and custom packages offer flexible options for businesses of all sizes and types.
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Salesmsg does not yet natively integrate with Salesforce, which can introduce gaps in syncing your voice, text and CRM contacts.

Offering simple and scalable two-way messaging, calling, and text marketing for companies across industries, Salesmsg helps you put your customers first. The cloud-based platform allows you to manage messages and calls from both a web interface and a mobile app, perfect for remote teams on the go. The intuitive dashboard is a one-stop shop for text and phone communications and campaign management and is accessible by multiple users. You can customize your suite of services with third-party app integrations via the Zapier automation platform. Salesmsg is a fantastic pick for businesses sending high volumes of texts and looking to make calls from the same number, providing reliable results in real time.

Editor’s score: 84/100

Impressive side-by-side text messaging and voice calling tools make Salesmsg an excellent choice for businesses that need a full-on communications infrastructure. It’s one of the few texting platforms we’ve reviewed with built-in voice calling. You can call anyone at all from your Salesmsg numbers and feel confident your text messages are going through. You can also text-enable your existing landline and make voice calls from your computer without an actual phone. Many tools that let you use your computer as a phone are relatively limited in text messaging capability, making Salesmsg a standout on this front. 

Salesmsg’s advanced network capabilities ensure your company’s communications reach their intended audience quickly and accurately, inviting real-time engagement. You can correspond with prospects or reengage past customers with ease through Salesmsg’s responsive interface.

Salesmsg has five monthly plan options as well as custom packages. The least expensive plan costs $25 per month and provides up to 500 messages; the most expensive plan is $249 per month, allows 7,500 messages, and includes advanced features. Contact a sales agent for details on the right plan for your organization.

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TextMarks: Best Text Message Marketing Service for Customer Service

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TextMarks offers customer service during standard business hours in all time zones within the 48 contiguous states.
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TextMarks clients rave about its customer service, which includes 30 minutes of advanced API support for certain users.
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TextMarks doesn't allow for two-way messaging or MMS messages.

TextMarks is our top pick for customer service because the brand is equally easy and enjoyable to contact. Customer reviews almost universally praise the company’s customer support agents, whom you can reach from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT on weekdays. In other words, any small business in the 48 contiguous states likely has hours of operation that fully overlap with TextMarks’ customer support hours.

Editor’s score: 85/100

A standout TextMarks customer support feature we haven’t seen elsewhere is the included API support. The Platinum, Enterprise and custom plans all come with 30 minutes of technical support for all your advanced APIs so you can make the most of the platform. This extra care and attention for your integrations is unique to TextMarks. It’s a great customer support feature that can make onboarding and continued use significantly easier.

Alongside TextMarks’ great customer service comes a user-friendly, intuitive interface and additional lead generation services. You can quickly start using TextMarks to grow your marketing contact list and send messages such as promotions and alerts. Once you’re sending out campaigns, with TextMarks’ lead generation tools, you can quickly capture your customers’ names and phone numbers for future marketing use. This streamlined lead generation and hands-on support make TextMarks a great option for small businesses.

Read TextMarks Review

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

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TextMagic is a budget-friendly service providing straightforward SMS services.
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It has flexible pricing with no commitment required and additional features that allow businesses to curate their suite of solutions.
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Some of its add-ons are features that other vendors include in their regular plans at no extra cost.

Founded in 2001, TextMagic is one of the most trusted SMS marketing providers on our list. Because this service offers mass messaging, two-way texting, segmentation, and automation, it’s perfect for businesses of all types that want a simple yet effective communication tool. The TextMagic dashboard is straightforward to interact with, meaning anyone can effectively use the service without much training. Multiple subaccount capabilities allow entire teams to access and manage messaging. It allows you to reach over 200 countries, making this service perfect for multinational organizations.

Editor’s score: 85/100

TextMagic makes it simple for businesses of all sizes to reach their audiences as often as they like in an uncomplicated manner. Instead of preset monthly plans or custom packages, it uses a pay-as-you-go model. This model lets you control your budget while receiving the tools you need to succeed. There are no commitments necessary to sign up for the service; you can cancel at any time.

Pricing for TextMagic begins at 3 cents per outbound message for U.S.-based texting. There is no fee to register. Premium add-ons – features available for an extra fee – include an SMS gateway API and campaign analytics. TextMagic is a great pay-as-you-go SMS marketing provider that’s perfect for budget-conscious businesses and enterprise operators alike.

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Text Message Marketing Costs

Pricing for text message marketing services depends on several factors, including the vendor, how many messages you’ll send monthly, how many keywords you need, and whether you expect to exceed your monthly limits. Implementation costs and hidden fees beyond what you see in your pricing plan are rare, though some platforms charge extra for certain add-ons.

Most texting plans include a certain number of credits and custom keywords for campaigns. A Short Messaging Service (SMS) text – a standard word-based message – typically costs one credit, while a Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) text – a message that contains images or video – costs three. Plans start around $25 and can go up to $2,800 per month, offering more features and keywords at higher price points. For example, most free or low-cost plans offer a few hundred text messages per month and one to three custom keywords, whereas a plan that costs $2,800 per month might allow nearly 250,000 text messages and several dozen keywords.

Some providers also offer pay-as-you-go plans, which allow you to pay only for what you use. Both these and fixed-cost providers typically provide customer service at no extra cost. Some providers, such as EZ Texting, offer hybrid models where you pay an initial flat fee and then more for each message credit beyond your included amount.

Key TakeawayKey takeaway: Between subscription-based, pay-as-you-go, and hybrid plans, there are text message marketing plans and pricing models to suit any business’s marketing budget.

Text Message Marketing Features

Text message marketing services are more than a way to send text messages. 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 provider, it can be challenging to know which of the many features you need. Here are the features we think are the most valuable for businesses to look for in a service.

Analytics and Reports

Analytics are a vital part of text message marketing. These numbers tell you which campaigns were successful and which ones were not. Analytics also provide insight into why they performed the way they did.

Automation

Automation tools allow you to program messages to send automatically at the same time every day, week or month.

Contact Management

You can’t have a text message marketing campaign without a strong base of subscribers to receive them. The contact management feature keeps your contacts organized, fresh and easy to access.

Customization Personalization goes a long way in customers’ engagement with your messages. Some texting solutions capture customer data, such as the person’s full name, birthday, and ZIP code, which opens up new possibilities for your marketing campaigns. For example, you could send a customer deals on their birthday or alert them to your sales in their area to show appreciation for them as unique customers. Other customization options extend to your integrations – for example, SimpleTexting can create free custom integrations for you in-house.

Drip Campaigns With this feature, you can send out automated messages based on conditions you set using if-then commands. Each step of the customer journey can trigger its own message, such as a greeting upon opt-in, a confirmation for each purchase, or a request for feedback after a customer service encounter.

Free Incoming Text Messages

The best text message marketing companies offer complimentary incoming text messages. This means you can allow your customers to reply to you without bringing up your costs; you only pay for the messages you send.

Integrations

Some text message companies integrate with other platforms, such as email marketing programs Mailchimp and Constant Contact. These integrations can significantly increase your productivity and capabilities, letting you automatically import and sync data across all your business software. [Learn more about these email marketing solutions in our Mailchimp review and Constant Contact review.]

Link Shortener

SMS messages typically allow no more than 160 characters. This limit can pose challenges when you need to insert links – how can you send a compelling text when half of it is a link? Some text message marketing platforms offer link shorteners that solve this problem, reducing any link to 15 characters at most.

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 (MMS)

Some services allow you to send pictures, videos and audio clips to make your messages stand out.

Mobile Keywords

You can build your contact list with mobile keywords, allowing customers to opt in to your messages by texting you a single word. The best solutions allow you to choose custom keywords and track their usage. Many plans require you to pay extra for more keywords, though.

QR Codes

Small businesses often print QR codes on flyers and other physical materials to automate the customer’s text message subscription process. Customers can scan the QR code to load the marketing numbers and keywords into their text messaging apps. This feature is increasingly common but not yet universal among SMS marketing platforms.

TipTip: The next time you print out ads that you’ll hand to people at events, include a QR code for your text message marketing list. This way, potential customers can sign up in just a few seconds – and you can keep engaging them thereafter. Learn other ways to use QR codes in marketing.

Scheduling

Scheduling text messages in advance can increase your productivity, because you won’t have to remember to send texts out manually at certain times. The timing of text messages is important, especially if you have customers in various time zones, so it helps to automate this function.

Surveys

You can gather customer feedback with polls and surveys. The best solutions make it easy to gather responses and adjust your campaigns or analytics with these tools. Learn how to send your customers an SMS survey.

Text-to-Landline

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

Web Signup Forms

Engaging customers via text can start with getting them to subscribe while they’re engaged with your brand in other ways. Web signup forms are a great example. You can embed them on your website or e-commerce store to generate text message marketing leads already interested in your business.

Choosing a Text Message Marketing Platform

Follow these steps to find the right text message marketing platform for your needs.

1. Think about what you need.

Will you use your text message marketing platform to send customers exclusive offers, or will you use it for appointment reminders? Do you work in an industry with highly specific text message use cases, such as hospitality or healthcare? Answer these questions to give yourself the context you need for determining which text message marketing platforms do and don’t work for your business.

2. Identify leading brands (especially for your industry, if applicable).

All of our best picks for text message marketing are leading brands – some of them within certain sectors. Zingle is designed for hospitality use, for instance, and Tatango is ideal for nonprofit and political use. Add any reputable brands that specialize in your industry to your list of possibilities.

3. Consider whether a broad or narrow use case matters more to you.

Is usability in a healthcare setting more important than the ability to expand your texting operations as your business grows? Would you rather have a platform with just the basics or one with advanced tools that are a bit tougher to use? The answers to these questions will further help you determine what to prioritize.

4. Read customer reviews.

Customer reviews can give you some of the truest possible insights on a certain platform. They’re a particularly great way to determine what current and past clients think of a brand’s customer service. They can also help you determine whether a platform is typically easy to use or a more complicated proposition.

TipTip: Always read a brand’s customer reviews before signing up for its service. There could be a stark difference between what the brand advertises on its website and what customers actually experience.

5. Sign up for a free trial.

Most text message marketing brands offer a free trial. Take them up on it – this trial is the fastest way to see for yourself whether a platform fits your needs. Keep note of when the trial ends and whether you’ll have to start paying the moment it does.

6. Compare your budget with your needs.

Some text message marketing platforms, such as Textedly, offer highly affordable monthly plans. Others, such as EZ Texting and Podium, can be quite expensive, though their advanced features may justify their prices. Others still, such as TextMagic, let you pay as you go for ultimate cost flexibility. Consider whether flexibility or monthly fees are better for your budget, and determine the maximum amount you can afford per month.

7. Complete your signup and begin using your new text message marketing platform.

After you’ve tried a few brands and compared their prices, you should sign up for one that checks all your boxes, budget included. You can typically reach out to customer support via the live chat tool in your platform’s dashboard to start the process.

8. Regularly refine and improve your strategies.

Once you implement your text message marketing platform and start sending messages, you’re still not quite done. Every great marketer knows that the key to making the most of your tools is regular audits of your marketing efforts. Your platform’s analytics suite should make this easy, especially if your reports include actionable insights. Keep reworking your approach, and chances are you’ll keep reaching more customers. [Related article: Text Message Marketing Tips for Small Businesses]

Advantages of Text Message Marketing

There are many ways you can use text message marketing to benefit your company. It’s an easy way to communicate directly with your customers, and you learn more about what your audience wants from you. Here are some things you can do for your business with text message marketing:

  • Send exclusive deals and discounts. The promise of special deals and discounts is why many people opt to receive text messages from companies. This makes it easy for your customers to redeem coupon codes and stay up to date with your company’s news, and it gives you an easy way to attract new customers.

  • Offer sneak peeks at new products or services. To drum up excitement for a new product or service, you can text out sneak peeks or free trials to your subscribers, keeping your business fresh in their minds.

  • Target past customers with news updates. If you have customers who haven’t done business with you in a while, texting can be a great way to draw them back in. You could send news about company goings-on or updates on your products and services.

  • Send appointment or reservation confirmations. If reservations or appointments are part of your business, this is a no-brainer. Texting is a faster, easier way to confirm appointments with customers than calling or emailing. It’s also an easy way for customers to reference the appointment information, making them less likely to forget or show up at the wrong time.

  • Provide order updates. If a customer orders something from you, you can send order notifications or updates by text rather than email to keep them in the loop. These updates also provide buyers a direct line of communication to your business should anything go wrong with their order.

  • Reach customers on the platform they use. Think about it – aren’t you always on your phone, and isn’t your inbox always so clogged you just mass-delete emails? Text message marketing gives you a much more direct path to your customers. [Related article: 9 Reasons to Try Text Message Marketing for Your Small Business]

What To Expect In Text Message Marketing in 2022

As text message marketing continues to grow in 2022, it’s more important than ever for companies to take advantage of this effective form of marketing. However, an impending obstacle may get in the way. A new rule implemented by cellular network carriers states that businesses must have their toll-free numbers registered by September 2022; otherwise, they will no longer be able to use text message marketing with that number.

Toll-free numbers begin with 800, 888, 877, 866, 855, 844 or 833. The verification form can typically be found online through a business’s text message marketing provider. Some companies may set their own verification deadlines for SMS marketing customers, so check your specific provider’s requirements to ensure your messages continue to go through.

When reaching out to customers, ensure that you only send messages once you receive opt-in approval. Companies like Shutterfly have learned that poorly run text message marketing campaigns can lead to legal trouble. The photography and image-sharing company was recently sued over claims of sending auto-generated text messages to customers that had not opted in.

The best practice is to have clear agreements with a customer and then follow them. It’s one thing to receive an opt-in confirmation for a few messages; it’s another to send dozens of texts without the customer’s consent. You must provide a clear way for consumers to opt out of receiving your text messages at any time.

Text Message Marketing FAQs

Why should businesses use text message marketing?

Text message marketing is a great way to connect with your customers personally and provide custom messaging. Texting is also faster than other communication methods, allowing you to resolve issues and connect with customers without making them wait long.

When should businesses use text message marketing?

Business owners and text message marketers should abide by standard business communications etiquette. Limit your messaging to business hours (i.e., weekdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.). Be mindful of different time zones where your subscribers live, and avoid sending too many messages at once. For the best results, follow these do’s and don’ts for text message marketing.

What industries benefit the most from text message marketing?

Any business that needs or wants to communicate directly with customers can benefit from text message marketing. It’s a great way to connect with your consumer base, adding a personal touch to your business communications and customer support. Some specific types of companies that often need to text customers are those in the hospitality and service industries, appointment-based businesses, and retailers that run frequent sales and special deals.

Is text message marketing effective?

Yes, text message marketing can be a highly effective way to reach your customers and connect with them on a personal level, because most people check their text messages far more often than their email. It is also cost-effective, allowing you to reach a large number of customers for a generally low monthly or annual fee.

How can you send bulk text messages?

While the exact method for sending bulk text messages varies by provider, you must generally import the list of contacts you want to message. Then, you would draft a bulk text message to be sent to this contact list and schedule it for the appropriate time.

Is it legal to send marketing messages via text?

Businesses can legally send marketing text messages to customers if they follow practices outlined in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and the CAN-SPAM Act. Enforced by the Federal Communications Commission, these laws prevent businesses from sending marketing messages to consumers who don’t want to receive them. Businesses can be fined up to $1,500 per willful violation if they don’t adhere to laws like TCPA. [Related article: How to Avoid Sending Spam Text Messages to Customers]

How do you get consent to send text messages to your customers?

The TCPA requires companies to get express written consent to send SMS marketing messages to any customer. The best way to obtain consent is by spelling out your communication terms in a clear and conspicuous manner on a form or advertisement. With this type of language, the customer can then provide their phone number (either directly on the form or by texting a number listed on your ad) with the intention of giving permission to be contacted by your company.

How many people open text messages?

The answer may be more than you’d expect! Generally speaking, 98% of SMS messages are opened, according to SlickText. This is great news for small businesses’ text message marketing strategies, as this data predicts a high success rate. Even better, Podium found that 74% of consumers prefer text message marketing offers to online ads.

What is the best way to track the results of text message marketing campaigns?

Tracking your text message marketing campaigns is an important step in the process. It’s important to know whether your potential customers are engaging with the content you’re sending. To track your campaign and see its success rate, start by confirming that your messages are delivered. Some text message marketing services, including TextMagic, track this for you. Then, look at how many people engaged with the content you sent, leading them to your site. These two steps are simple ways to see how your campaign is being received. [Related article: How to Run a Successful Text Message Marketing Campaign]

Kiely Kuligowski contributed to the writing and research in this guide.

Max Freedman
Max Freedman
Business News Daily Contributing Writer
Max Freedman is a content writer who has written hundreds of articles about small business strategy and operations, with a focus on finance and HR topics. He's also published articles on payroll, small business funding, and content marketing. In addition to covering these business fundamentals, Max also writes about improving company culture, optimizing business social media pages, and choosing appropriate organizational structures for small businesses.
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