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Updated Jun 27, 2024

Twilio Messaging Review

Tom Anziano headshot
Written By: Tom AnzianoBusiness Ownership Insider and Senior Writer
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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:8.2/10
Twilio is our pick for the best custom text message marketing solution because it lets you build a fully functional messaging platform according to your specifications, and you pay only for the messages and tools you use.
Plus Sign Pros
  • Twilio provides APIs to build a custom messaging platform to fit your exact needs.
  • There are no monthly subscription fees; you pay only for incoming and outgoing messages and add-ons.
  • You can expand your communications beyond SMS with omnichannel messaging, including international messaging, with built-in compliance.
Minus Sign Cons
  • The setup can be complicated and often requires you to hire a developer.
  • The pay-per-use pricing structure can quickly become expensive for smaller businesses that need to send frequent messages to a sizable customer base.
  • Customer support can be slow, and you’ll have to pay a hefty monthly fee for priority support.

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When it comes to the best text messaging services, some solutions are geared toward certain needs and might not meet your business’s unique circumstances. Twilio sets itself apart as an omnichannel communications platform that you can build from the ground up based on your needs. With multiple application programming interfaces (APIs), your developers can customize the system to send out mass campaigns, segment contacts, communicate with customers and gather data. Because you can shape the platform to fit your specifications and you pay only for what you use, Twilio is our top pick for a custom messaging solution. 

Twilio API central console

Extensive APIs allow you to add the functionality you want to Twilio’s central console. You can also add multiple numbers, including 10-digit long-code (10DLC), short-code and toll-free numbers. Source: Twilio

Twilio Editor's Rating:

8.2 / 10

Plans and pricing
8/10
Ease of use
7/10
Features
9/10
Flexibility
10/10
Customer support
7/10

Why Twilio Is Best for Custom Solutions

Many software companies tout customization as one of their strong points, but Twilio is the only one we reviewed that allows you to build a platform exactly to your specifications; you can include only the functions you need, meaning you don’t have to pay for what you don’t use. You can add custom features, such as tools to run successful text message marketing campaigns

Businesses that are looking for straightforward tools for SMS marketing — like bulk texts, targeted promos, automated sales reminders and customer surveys — will be satisfied with Twilio’s Programmable Messaging API. We appreciate that businesses with irregular messaging needs, like seasonal businesses or small companies that run occasional promotions, will be able to keep costs down by paying per message as opposed to a set monthly fee. Plus, Twilio is one of only a few services that allow international messaging, so you can reach customers anywhere.

We love that businesses with more complex communication needs can mix and match products to expand Twilio’s capabilities in the way that works best for them. The Conversations API lets you message customers across multiple channels, including WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, all from the central console. SendGrid integrates messaging into a robust email marketing platform. You can seamlessly move the conversation from email to text and retain customer information. The Segment tool unifies customer data in a single profile, allowing you to create granular reports, segment customers and craft personalized customer experiences. 

Besides offering extensive APIs to create customized messaging solutions, Twilio stands out for being a complete customer communication platform. Businesses that want to expand beyond messaging will want to read our Twilio Flex review, which covers Twilio’s contact center software. You can handle all of your customer service needs over voice and messaging, right from Twilio’s flexible platform. 

Key TakeawayKey takeaway
Twilio is a developer-friendly platform that provides APIs and software development kits (SDKs) to build custom messaging solutions that include the features your business needs. You pay only for what you use, and you can even conduct omnichannel communications and reach customers worldwide if you expand your business internationally.

Usability

Even though the platform is geared toward developers, we found Twilio’s console to be relatively easy to navigate considering the complex features and customizations. The dashboard layout is straightforward, with a menu bar on the left displaying the tools you’ve added and a link to the documents page for guided support for every feature and function. There’s also a tab to see reports and add new products. On top, you’ll see your remaining balance, a link to top off your account, and a search bar to quickly find tools and support guides. 

We appreciate that you can opt for a virtual phone or API view when composing messages, but in general, we found the messaging interface more complicated than most competing platforms. Adding links, emoji, custom fields and images requires extra steps, whereas most other services include these options in the compose field. Setting up messaging to do everything other platforms offer requires coding knowledge, which not every small business owner has. 

The Twilio console is essentially a bare-bones structure that you can customize as you see fit. While we love the customization Twilio offers, most small businesses will require outside help to build a tailored solution. The advantage of Twilio is that it offers APIs to build tools that can be used in the Twilio console or be integrated into apps you already use. Once you put in the legwork of getting everything set up, you’ll have a platform with exactly the level of functionality your business requires. 

Twilio Features

Extensive APIs and SDKs

Integrate custom messaging solutions in multiple coding languages to get the exact level of functionality you need. 

Low-code building

Build custom tools with Studio’s drag-and-drop interface without needing to be a coding expert.

Advanced marketing tools

Centralize customer data in a unified profile to create segments and personalized customer journeys. 

Omnichannel messaging 

Communicate with customers across multiple messaging services, like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, from the central console. 

Global communication

Message customers in over 180 countries with built-in international compliance tools. 

Flexible reports and insights

Get the data you need with customized filters, link tracking, and customer engagement analytics.

AI-powered tools

Use AI to optimize message routing, block fraud, create AI chatbots and get customer insights. 

Compliance checks 

Stay compliant with built-in tools for global messaging regulations, phone number verification and HIPAA compliance.

Extensive APIs and SDKs

Twilio provides developers with a ton of APIs and SDKs to build a custom messaging solution in the Twilio console or as an integration with an app you already use. We appreciate that Twilio supports multiple programming languages, like Java and Python, so developers can code the way they know best. You can set up your platform to send bulk SMS and MMS marketing messages, promotions, notifications, alerts and verifications. 

Twilio coding languages

Twilio lets you code in a variety of programming languages. Source: Twilio

Low-Code Building

We appreciate that Twilio offers Studio, a paid add-on that lets you build custom applications even if you aren’t very familiar with coding. The drag-and-drop interface lets you create workflows to integrate useful messaging tools into the console. There are even guided instructions to set up appointment reminders, customer text surveys, auto-responders, drip campaigns and SMS chatbots. 

Twilio Studio drag-and-drop feature

Twilio Studio’s drag-and-drop interface lets you build custom tools, like auto-responders, without needing expert coding skills. Source: Twilio

Advanced Marketing Tools

Twilio lets you take your text message marketing to the next level with its customer data platform, Segment. You can collect and analyze customer data right from the Twilio dashboard. The Unify tool puts all of your contact data in one profile and assists with customer segmentation for targeted campaigns based on criteria you set. We found Engage especially useful; it harnesses data to help you build personalized journeys to drive customer engagement. 

Omnichannel Messaging 

We appreciate that Twilio lets you expand your messaging campaign beyond traditional SMS and MMS messages. Programmable Messaging includes the ability to send WhatsApp messages. Businesses also have access to Conversations API, which we found useful for engaging with customers on the channels they prefer, like Facebook Messenger and Google Business Messages. Moving the conversation across channels is seamless, and message history is saved in one place. Plus, you can easily assign conversations to team members.

TipTip
In addition to being a good place to communicate with customers, Facebook can help your business target leads and drive sales. Read our Facebook business guide to learn how it can help your business grow.

Global Communication 

Twilio is one of the only platforms we reviewed that allows you to create a global messaging campaign, reaching customers wherever you do business. Besides WhatsApp, Twilio works with over 1,500 carriers worldwide so you can message contacts in over 180 countries. We appreciate that the platform includes international regulatory compliance documents so you won’t run into trouble no matter where you do business. 

Flexible Reports and Insights 

We love that Twilio lets you set up custom analytics so you get the most useful data. With the Messaging Insights dashboard, you can track important metrics, like delivery status and engagement. You can also create shortened, trackable links. Plus, unlimited filters let you get as granular as needed. Twilio stands out for going the furthest in segmenting data. Twilio Engage lets you take your reporting to the next level, helping you track customer engagement and measure key performance indicators (KPIs) to see campaign success and build future marketing efforts. 

Twilio analytics

Messaging Insights lets you break down messaging data by carrier, country or customer filters. Source: Twilio

AI-Powered Tools 

Like many competitors, Twilio is integrating artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance messaging capabilities. Twilio uses AI to optimize message routing, block fraudulent traffic, offer SMS pumping protection and power SMS chatbots. The Customer AI Perception Engine, currently available only for Twilio voice products, will soon integrate with messaging, extracting customer data from incoming texts to populate customer profiles and make personalized recommendations. You can also add Message Sentiment, an IBM-powered sentiment analysis tool that can help you understand customer opinions and respond accordingly. 

Did You Know?Did you know
Recent surveys have found that most customers prefer to use realistic AI chatbots when shopping. Developing an AI chatbot can help consumers get the right information with zero wait time.

Compliance Checks 

Building a custom platform can be challenging, so we appreciate that Twilio makes sure that compliance doesn’t go overlooked. There are built-in compliance tools and documents to ensure opt-in and opt-out best practices for every region you operate in, including internationally. Trust Hub verifies your business’s 10DLC number for application-to-person messaging and for calls. We love that Twilio provides healthcare-specific APIs to create a HIPAA-compliant solution — something not all competitors offer. 

Twilio Costs

Twilio is unique in that it offers a pay-per-use pricing structure as opposed to the industry standard of tiered subscription plans. We love that you’re not locked into a contract with message limits, so businesses with fluctuating messaging needs can manage costs. You’ll pay per SMS, MMS or WhatsApp message sent and received. Additional APIs and tools — like Conversations, Studio and Flex — are also pay-as-you-go. However, Segment, which includes Engage, requires a monthly fee. 

Here’s an overview of Twilio’s pricing structure.

Messaging

Twilio’s price per message is the cheapest of all the services we reviewed, but carrier fees apply. There are automatic volume discounts when you go over 150,000 messages.

Number type

SMS (in)

SMS (out)

MMS (in)

MMS (out)

10DLC

0.79 cent

0.79 cent

2 cents

1 cent

Toll-free

0.79 cent

0.79 cent

2 cents

2 cents

Short code

0.79 cent

0.79 cent

2 cents

1 cent

WhatsApp pricing is tricky and based on Meta’s fees. Expect to pay around half a cent per message or 1.5 cents per conversation.

Phone Number 

The chart below lists Twilio’s monthly pricing. There are volume discounts if you have more than 1,000 numbers.

Number type

Twilio number

Bring your own number

10DLC

$1.15

50 cents

Toll-free

$2.15

50 cents

Random short code

$1,000*

n/a

Vanity short code

$1,500*

$500*

*Short code is billed quarterly and requires a one-time setup fee.

Additional Costs

  • Engagement Suite (link shortening/tracking): 1.5 cents per message (first 1,000 per month are free)
  • Conversations API (volume discounts available): 5 cents per active contact per month
  • Media storage: 25 cents per gigabyte per month
  • Studio: 0.1 cent per flow execution (first 1,000 per month are free)
  • Twilio Segment (includes Engage and Unify): Free Plan, $120-per-month Team Plan, custom-priced Business Plan
  • Twilio Flex: Starts at $1 per use hour or $150 per user per month
  • Support plans: Limited free plan, or you are charged a flat fee ($250/$1,500/$5,000) or a percentage of monthly costs (4%/6%/8%) ​​— whichever is greater

We appreciate that you don’t have to worry about message limits or expiring credits, nor do you have to pay a huge premium to add tools. However, with all the different paid components, it can be tricky to figure out exactly what the service will cost you. You’ll have to estimate the amount of contacts and messages you’ll need and decide what other APIs you want to integrate. 

Twilio offers volume bundles that benefit larger businesses, but we found Twilio to be an expensive option for budget-conscious small businesses with extensive messaging needs. If you are looking to send bulk messages to many clients without spending a fortune, read our Textedly review. You also might need to pay for support or to hire a coding expert to get Twilio up and running. 

There may be additional fees or costs associated with integrating other features or services into your solution. You can try Twilio for free. You’ll get a Twilio number and a small testing balance, and you’ll be able to explore all the features of the platform, including Segment and Flex. You’ll be able to explore the platform as long as you’d like, but to start sending messages, you’ll have to get your number verified and start paying. 

Twilio Setup

We found the Twilio setup to be more complex than competitors’, but that isn’t surprising considering that it’s geared toward developers building custom solutions. However, the sign-up is relatively easy. Right from the get-go, Twilio asks you a few brief questions about what you’ll be using the platform for, as well as your coding expertise, and then populates the console with the features you’re most likely to need. 

From the menu bar on the left, you can easily select and activate new numbers or port your own business line. There is also a link to Twilio’s extensive documents library that explains in detail how to add and use all of Twilio’s features. Many of the documents contain video tutorials. Although Twilio attempts to make the setup straightforward even for people who are unfamiliar with coding, we see how the platform could be challenging to navigate. 

Most small businesses, especially those without a dedicated IT team, will need to hire a developer or online tech support to get the platform up and running. Companies that opt for the most expensive support plan get access to a technical account manager who can help with onboarding, but we would have liked to see a similar level of support for all users. 

Twilio Customer Service

As with the rest of Twilio’s products, you can customize the level of support you receive with one of four plans. We were disappointed that the free plan doesn’t include live support. Instead, you’ll have to rely on Twilio’s extensive library of documents and training videos. We appreciate that Twilio offers so many resources to help you get the most out of the platform, but it can take some time to find the right document. There’s also an AI-powered chatbot for basic inquiries. 

Twilio training resources

The Twilio console provides direct links to resources such as user guides and tutorial videos. Source: Twilio 

Paid support plans include access to 24/7 live chat and phone support, but the response time depends on your plan. In some cases, you might be left waiting for an answer for longer than a business day. In fact, many online reviews complain about the inefficiency of customer service. However, in our experience, we found the support reps to be responsive and informative. 

Paid support plans can be quite pricey for complex solutions, as you pay a percentage of your total monthly cost. We would have liked to see a more affordable customer support option, especially because Twilio can be challenging to set up. 

Twilio Drawbacks

While Twilio has a lot to offer, the complexity of setting up and using the platform might be a problem for small business owners with no coding experience. In most cases, you’ll have to hire an outside developer to get things going. And even once you’re set up, the platform can still be tricky. Most competitors offer similar messaging capabilities with a much more seamless user experience. If you’re looking for advanced features on an easy-to-use platform, we recommend reading our EZ Texting review

Getting help with the platform isn’t always easy, either. While we appreciate that Twilio provides a library of in-depth documents to help you navigate the platform, customer support can sometimes be lacking. We were disappointed that you have to pay to get live support, and unless you have the most expensive support plan, you might have to wait a while for a response. 

Twilio’s unique pay-per-use pricing structure with volume discounts makes it an attractive solution for large businesses and enterprises, but it can become expensive at scale for smaller businesses. It also can be challenging to estimate monthly costs, which could pose a problem to small companies that need to make every penny count. If your business needs a less-complex solution with straightforward pricing, read our SimpleTexting review.

Methodology

To determine the best text message marketing services, we participated in vendor demos, explored solutions in free trials, contacted customer support and researched online customer reviews. We then compared our findings to determine the best software for particular use cases. For the best text message marketing platform for custom solutions, we specifically looked at the availability of advanced features, the flexibility of the platform, and the cost and ease of tailoring the solution to meet specific business needs. 

Twilio FAQs

Twilio is a customer communication platform that allows you to connect with your customers in multiple ways for a variety of purposes. Its extensive APIs and SDKs allow developers to build custom solutions using voice, messaging and email to create marketing campaigns, provide customer service, or send notifications and alerts.
Twilio can be used to send and respond to SMS and MMS text messages. However, Twilio is a comprehensive platform that allows you to handle omnichannel communications from the central console.
Yes, Twilio is a safe and reliable company with a positive reputation in the customer communications field. Many notable companies, like Airbnb and Uber, use Twilio.
Twilio Messaging can be used to send and receive SMS, MMS and WhatsApp messages for almost any use, including sending bulk marketing texts, providing customer support through a SMS chatbot, and conducting text surveys.
Yes, you can set up Twilio to receive and respond to incoming text messages. Incoming text messages are charged per message.

Overall Value

We recommend Twilio for …

  • Businesses that need a messaging platform that’s customized to their needs.
  • Companies that want to pay only for the messages they actually send and receive.
  • Companies that need omnichannel messaging to reach customers globally. 

We do not recommend Twilio for … 

  • Small businesses that want to easily estimate monthly costs.
  • Businesses that need a foolproof platform for straightforward messaging needs. 
Tom Anziano headshot
Written By: Tom AnzianoBusiness Ownership Insider and Senior Writer
Thomas Anziano is an advertising and marketing professional who has worked in the U.S. and Germany. He has also taught Business Writing in English to university students in Madrid, Spain. He holds a degree in Marketing and Spanish.

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