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Updated Jun 28, 2024

Podium Review

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Max Freedman, Business Operations Insider and Senior Analyst
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This guide was reviewed by a Business News Daily editor to ensure it provides comprehensive and accurate information to aid your buying decision.

Table of Contents

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Editors Score:9.2/10
Podium offers seamless Google integration and easily accessible tools to invite reviews and communicate with customers. These features make Podium our top text message marketing platform for customer relationship management.
Plus Sign Pros
  • Podium’s sharp integration with Google Business uniquely streamlines your collection of customer reviews.
  • Podium’s lead generation and AI tools let you find more customers and respond to them better.
  • Podium lets you collect customer payments by text and this convenience can do wonders for the customer experience.
Minus Sign Cons
  • Bulk messages are limited across all plans, which can be a problem for businesses with large contact lists.
  • Podium prides itself on working entirely with small local businesses yet some small businesses have said that its prices are prohibitive.
  • Many users report issues with customer service and canceling their contracts.

Podium is an all-in-one communication platform that helps you grow your reputation as you build relationships with customers. As with the best text messaging marketing services, Podium includes essential tools to create targeted campaigns and follow up with one-on-one conversations. Podium stands out for including a unique Google Business integration through which you can obtain reviews via text. This feature, along with Podium’s unified inbox, artificial intelligence (AI) tools and payment widgets, makes Podium our top short message service (SMS) marketing pick for customer relationship management (CRM).

Podium online reviews

Podium lets you request and view online reviews on Google, Facebook or other review sites right from your inbox. Source: Podium

Podium Editor's Rating:

9.2 / 10

Plans and pricing
7.5/10
Ease of use
8.5/10
Features
10/10
Flexibility
9/10
Customer support
8/10

Why Podium Is Best for CRM

Podium is a lot more than a messaging platform. It’s a robust tool for omnichannel customer communication that doubles as a reputation management service. You can build relationships with your customers through quick and efficient conversations in the unified inbox and leverage those relationships to boost your online presence through reviews.

Obtaining customer feedback and reviews via text is painless, whether through Google Business, Facebook or industry-specific sites. You can respond to reviews from the central inbox and use AI to generate quick responses. Podium has recently integrated AI into all aspects of its service, letting you run text message marketing campaigns and provide customer service more efficiently. 

The web chat widget and third-party website contact forms help you connect with more customers to generate leads and build opt-in marketing lists. Any messages you receive through these tools will appear in your inbox alongside your actual text messages. With easy-to-create custom fields, you’ll be sure to always have the right information to provide the best service.

From your Podium inbox, you can also solicit payments from customers and the convenience of text-based payments can improve your relationships. This feature is a strong point in Podium’s favor, as it isn’t common among the other text messaging software we reviewed. Although the platform abounds with advanced tools, Podium offers some level of one-on-one support to all users, another perk that sets it apart from the competition. 

FYIDid you know
Podium is one of the few solutions that lets you collect customer payments via text message and this convenience can improve your customers' experiences. Podium includes safeguards to prevent payment fraud, protecting your customers and your reputation.

Usability

Where many software platforms with abundant advanced features could become confusing, Podium goes out of its way to remain easy to use. When you first log in, you’ll see a guide that pops up with simple instructions. You’ll also see quick tips for effective campaigns as you write your messages. After your first campaign, Podium will ask you for feedback that it can use to improve your experience.

Targeted campaigns are especially easy with Podium’s real-time customer segmentation. A logical if-then flow takes the guesswork out of determining which contacts to target in your text message marketing. It’s also crisp and clean, as is every Podium tool. You can also manage conversations, solicit and respond to reviews, create marketing campaigns and use AI assistance, all from one central, easy-to-navigate inbox. Whatever task you’re completing, you’ll see everything you need immediately.

Setting up a custom audience in Podium

Setting up a custom audience is easy with Podium’s minimalistic tool. Source: Podium

Speaking of reviews, Podium’s standout Google Business integration is so deeply embedded in the platform that you might not even realize it’s an integration. Hundreds of additional integrations are available through the Podium integrations marketplace.

However, you must request certain Podium integrations. Unlike with other SMS marketing platforms, Podium integrations aren’t accessible immediately from the Podium dashboard. This feature is uncommon among the brands we reviewed, but Podium makes up for it by configuring your integrations during onboarding.

Podium Features

Unified inbox

You can conduct all customer communication tasks quickly and easily from the central inbox over the channel your customers prefer. 

Custom review invites 

Podium makes it easy to solicit reviews on Google, Facebook and industry-specific websites to help build your online reputation. 

AI communications 

AI tools can generate incoming messages and review responses, create marketing copy and even chat with customers but some features cost extra.

Lead generation

All your leads are collected in your inbox, whether they come from your website form and chat widget or third-party sites.

SMS-based customer payments

Podium lets you collect customer payments by text message.

Customer feedback surveys

Podium lets you send valuable customer feedback surveys in a few clicks.

Dedicated platform support

Podium provides dedicated one-on-one support for setting up and learning the platform and its features.

Unified Inbox 

Podium’s unified inbox stands out for how seamlessly it includes everything you need to manage customer communications, such as marketing campaign messages, customer information and interaction history, call summaries, automated responses, review links, attachments, templates and payment links. Beyond messaging, you can provide total omnichannel communications by phone, email, web chat and video calls, something most other text messaging services don’t offer and assigning conversations is a breeze. 

Podium inbox

Podium’s inbox lets you assign and manage customer conversations, reach out over multiple channels and see customer information and interaction history, all in one place. Source: Podium

Custom Review Invites

After you provide services or sell a product to a customer, you can use Podium to make the best of your interaction. The platform makes it easy to load a link right into your texts so your customers can leave a review on Google, Facebook or industry-specific review sites quickly. The Google Business Profile integration even posts these reviews to your own page. You can set up automated nudges to remind customers and even leave a review response. This standout feature is unique to Podium and we found it highly useful for increasing your online reputation so more people can find your business.

Key TakeawayKey takeaway
Podium plans aren’t the cheapest on the block, but the unlimited contacts and one-on-one messages offer a ton of value to businesses looking to use SMS for managing customer relationships. Companies with extensive marketing contacts, however, might find that Podium falls short.

Podium Setup

Setup can take a bit longer for Podium than for other text message marketing platforms, primarily due to the advanced and specific nature of its features. You may need to add your credit card information, create review templates and develop customer surveys as well, which isn’t typically part of other SMS messaging platforms’ setup processes. 

That said, all plans include one-on-one onboarding from a Podium team member, so you’ll be able to rely on someone holding your hand through the entire setup process. A dedicated customer success manager will also be around to answer questions as you begin using the platform. Access to this level of implementation support for free is rare. You also won’t pay extra to migrate your data or add contacts.

Although integrating Google Business is easy, setting up other integrations can take some time. You’ll have to request an integration for most of the 180-plus solutions available in the marketplace. Podium’s integration team will set it up for you, but this process makes integration setup considerably slower and less straightforward than with other text message marketing platforms.

Podium Customer Service

Podium offers live phone, chat and text support from the help button in the top right corner of your dashboard. The brand doesn’t list its customer service hours publicly, but Podium previously told us that its customer support team is available on weekdays from 9 a.m. to midnight Eastern time.

Recently Podium has started using AI to respond to chat support requests. Customer reviews and our own experience found that the AI bots aren’t always useful, but they can connect you to a support rep. Previously, when we reached out through the live chat tool in the dashboard, we heard back within five minutes. We found the answers this representative provided to be very thorough and helpful. However, many customers complain about long wait times and inefficient support. 

To get priority phone access you will have to pay for the most expensive plan. Podium does offer a ton of online resources like articles and video tutorials for troubleshooting common problems. They also offer a service to hire experts to address specific needs, something we haven’t seen offered anywhere else. 

Podium industry-based experts

Podium will help you hire industry-based experts to troubleshoot specific needs, such as responding to reviews or running analytics. Source: Podium 

Podium Drawbacks

Despite Podium being the rare platform that offers unlimited one-on-one messages and contacts at all pricing tiers, we were disappointed by the bulk messaging limits. The Pro plan only lets you send 500 monthly bulk messages, which means businesses with a large marketing list will have to pay a hefty price to add messages or look elsewhere. If your business’s main concern is sending mass texts at volume, read our SimpleTexting review, which gives you 25,000 texts for the same price as Podium’s Pro plan. 

While Podium offers powerful features for managing customer communication, we found the costs to be high. Most messaging platforms we reviewed offer entry-level plans for well under $100 per month. However, Podium’s features are both advanced and easy to use, so the platform may be well worth the investment if you can afford it. Still, we would have liked to see features like text-based surveys and customer loyalty automations available with all plans. For advanced features at an affordable price, consider reading our EZ Texting review.

In our research, we found many complaints about the customer service provided by Podium. Most support requests are first handled by an AI chatbot that isn’t always helpful, which was also true in our experience. Asking to speak to a human can lead to long waits. Podium also has a reputation for upselling, even when you haven’t reached out and for making it hard to cancel contracts. 

Where other platforms include many integrations from the jump, Podium requires you to request almost all of its integrations. The company will then call you to set up an appointment with its integrations team. This process takes considerably longer than it does with competitors. If a seamless text message marketing experience from the get-go is paramount for you, then Podium might be a mismatch.

Methodology

To effectively review Podium and compare it to other platforms, we researched a variety of different SMS marketing tools. We sat down for demos with company representatives whenever possible. We took advantage of free trials to explore these platforms ourselves. We combed through online tutorials and support documents provided by the vendor and also read customer reviews on trusted review sites. When looking for the best text messaging service for CRM we looked for easy-to-use features and streamlined solutions to make communicating with customers as simple and efficient as possible. 

Podium FAQs

Podium is well known for offering more services than traditional text message marketing. You can use it to solicit customer reviews, add a web chat widget to your website and obtain customer payments via text.
You can reach Podium by phone or live chat. Podium’s phone number is available from the help center of your dashboard and live chat is accessible there too.
Podium’s prices are on the high end for a text message marketing service. However, these high prices reflect the breadth of its unique, high-level features. You’re paying for considerably more than text message marketing.
No, but Podium lets you integrate with Google Business to solicit customer reviews, which can lead to improving your online reputation and steering more leads to your company.
You can solicit payments over text message and Podium accepts all major payment options. Credit card processing fees fall within the industry average and all transactions are backed by fraud protection safeguards.

Overall Value

We recommend Podium for …

  • Small businesses that want to solicit customer reviews through a communication channel with high response and open rates.
  • Small businesses that need unlimited messaging and AI-powered tools to better communicate with customers. 
  • Small businesses that want live chat, third-party web contact forms and hassle-free SMS payments to improve the customer experience.

We do not recommend Podium for … 

  • Small businesses looking to send multiple campaigns to extensive marketing lists.
  • Small businesses that don’t want to get locked down into annual contracts.
  • Small businesses on a tight budget looking for an affordable platform with basic text messaging features.

Max Freedman contributed to this article.

author image
Max Freedman, Business Operations Insider and Senior Analyst
Max Freedman has spent nearly a decade providing entrepreneurs and business operators with actionable advice they can use to launch and grow their businesses. Max has direct experience helping run a small business, performs hands-on reviews and has real-world experience with the categories he covers, such as accounting software and digital payroll solutions, as well as leading small business lenders and employee retirement providers. Max has written hundreds of articles for Business News Daily on a range of valuable topics, including small business funding, time and attendance, marketing and human resources.
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