SMS marketing is an effective way to build long-lasting connections with your customers. It’s a no-brainer that marketers should invest in SMS marketing.
But what SMS marketing platform should you use?
There are a bunch of Cloud-based SMS marketing software platforms to choose from. And as a marketer, you don’t want to go with an SMS marketing app that will let you down later.
So here are the top 10 SMS marketing tools available with their top features and pricing plans.
|Attentive||1. List growth|
2. Audience manager
4. Business intelligence
|On request||G2: 4.8 stars |
|EZ Texting||1. Text to Landline|
3. Contact management and segmentation
|G2: 4.5 stars |
|SlickText||1. Text surveys |
2. Automatic contact list cleaning
3. Automatic workflows
|G2: 4.9 stars |
|Textedly||1. Voice service|
2. Incoming MMS
3. Instagram texting
4. Data Collection
|Yearly plans start at $24/mo||G2: 4.8 stars |
|SimpleTexting||1. Multiple keywords|
3. Advanced automation
|Monthly plans |
starting at $45/mo
|G2: 4.6 stars |
|Postscript||1. Shopify integration|
2. List management
3. Text compliance
4. Good analytics
|Pay-as-you-go pricing starts at $25/mo||G2: 4.9 stars |
|SMSBump||1. List building|
2. Automated flows
3. A/B testing
4. International sending
|Shopify app store: 4.8 stars (1,895 votes)|
|Octane AI||1. Quizzes and interactive pop-ups|
2. FB Messenger + SMS
3. Custom automation
|Shopify app store: 4.8 stars (146 votes)|
|Podium||1. Omnichannel messaging|
2. Web, team, video chat
|By request||G2: 4.6 stars |
2. Global reach
3. Automation flows
4. SMS channel reports
|G2: 4.6 stars |
What makes a good SMS marketing platform? Must-have features
SMS marketing is more than sending messages to a mass audience (bulk messaging). A good SMS marketing tool offers features to make your SMS campaigns more effective. Here are some features you should look for in a good SMS marketing platform
1. Bulk messaging
Bulk messaging or mass texting is the practice of sending a message to a large number of phones. It’s SMS marketing reduced to the bare bones. It’s a safe bet to say that mass messaging is the most sought-after feature of SMS marketing tools. You have a list of phone numbers to reach out to and promote your products through mass texts.
2. Two-way conversation
Going a step further than bulk messaging, you need a way your contacts can respond to your messages. You need to have a two-way conversation with your customers. This feature enables you to send and receive your customers’ responses in your inbox. It’s an essential feature when it comes to providing a great customer experience.
MMS stands for Multimedia Messaging Service. Unlike SMS, MMS can send multimedia files (images, videos, audios).
Multimedia content is more engaging than text. So it’s important to invest in an SMS marketing solution that allows you to send multimedia messages.
4. Opt-out management
Your recipients should be able to unsubscribe from your SMS lists easily. SMS marketing tools let contacts unsubscribe from your list with links or keywords.
5. List building
Your text marketing app should help you build your contact lists in three main ways:
- Manual import: the most basic way for adding phone numbers to your list. You should be able to enter a recipient’s information in your database. All SMS marketing services have this feature.
- SMS opt-in: people can subscribe to a list by sending a short message (keyword) to a phone number (shortcode). For example, sending the keyword “DISCOUNT” to 33339 to receive discount offers via SMS. This is a basic list-building capability every SMS marketing software should offer.
- Online forms: people can subscribe to a list by filling in an online form on a website or social media platform. This is ideal to get your website visitors, email subscribers, or social media followers to subscribe to your SMS list.
Keywords are short and memorable words people can send to a phone number to subscribe to your list. A keyword is short and unique and makes it easy for people to sign up.
Shortcodes are short phone numbers (5 or 6 digits) that can receive and send SMS or MMS. Contrary to typical 10-digit numbers, shortcodes are easier to remember. And they have higher throughput.
Keywords and shortcodes are the inevitable part of a list building campaign. A coffee shop can ask its customers to send the keyword “COFFEE” to the shortcode 33557. Then customers receive their latest promotional codes.
Segmentation is a great way to send targeted messages to your contacts. A good SMS marketing software allows you to segment your contacts based on different criteria (such as the subscription date/method, gender, etc.). You’ll be able to send personalized text messages to each of your segments.
Automated text messages are great for saving time and increasing text campaign productivity. Autoresponders are ideal for confirming a person’s subscription to your list and sending delayed messages (coupons, tricks, tips, special sales, etc.).
Reminders are great messages to automate. Remind your contacts about appointments, abandoned carts, events, and Flash sales promos.
True SMS marketing automation is only possible through integrations with other related platforms.
It is smart to integrate your email marketing platform and text messaging app. That way, you can synchronize your email list or collect emails through text messages.
11. Analytics and link tracking
Analytics allow you to spot the strengths and weaknesses of your SMS campaigns. Some of the questions analytics can answer are:
- How many messages are delivered in your campaign?
- How many of your contacts have opened your message?
- How many have clicked your link?
Analytics and link tracking are the must-have features for your SMS marketing software.
SMS API is short for “application programming interface.” It allows you to integrate your SMS marketing platform with other apps.
For example, your developer can use an SMS API to send SMS directly from your email client. Typically, SMS marketing platforms have API documentation that could help you with this.
Best SMS marketing platforms
The SMS marketing market is quite crowded. There are all sorts of platforms with different features and pricing. Below I’ll list 10 of the top SMS marketing service providers.
1. Attentive Mobile
Attentive Mobile claims to be the most comprehensive text message marketing solution. They also claim to create “an average of 20.5% of total online revenue for modern e-commerce brands.” They offer all the necessary features for a complete text message marketing platform.
Attentive Mobile top features
Attentive is a comprehensive text messaging platform focused on eCommerce growth. They have nifty features in six different categories:
Audience Growth: refers to building and growing your SMS and email list. You can design sign-up forms and promote them on your website for maximum conversions. Create forms and display them as popups on your website (mobile and desktop versions). Offer incentives at the check-out to capture subscribers at the point of purchase. Show opt-in links through your social media accounts. Drive sign-ups from your email list. Or create shortcodes and increase sign-ups from your physical stores.
Audience Manager: this contains the set of tools for personalized audience targeting. Segment your audience based on various criteria. Onsite behavior, browsing and purchase history, and demographic insights are some examples.
Messaging: refers to their advanced messaging features. You can create campaign messages, design journey maps, and send automated transactional messages. They also offer A/B testing features and real-time analytics to decide what works best for you.
Business intelligence: refers to their analytics and reporting features. You can generate reports on campaign performance, automated message performance, conversions, etc.
Integrations: there are a bunch of tools you can integrate with Attentive. They offer integrations with popular eCommerce platforms such as Shopify, BigCommerce, or Magento. However, popular marketing tools, mainly email marketing tools, seem to be lacking here. Their recent Zapier integration or their API lets you connect any tool with Attentive.
Compliance and Deliverability: they promise high message deliverability and compliance with regulations. They also offer tools to make sure your opt-in forms are compliant with US regulations.
Attentive Mobile pricing
Attentive does not have clear pricing on their website — they offer custom pricing. You need to request a demo with them first and get pricing based on your needs.
2. EZ Texting
EZ Texting claims to be the #1 SMS marketing platform in the market. And unlike Attentive, they have clear pricing plans.
EZTexting top features
Free Shutterstock images: you have free access to premium Shutterstock images in “Essentials” or higher plans. You can use royalty-free images and edit them with EZ Texting’s premium image editor.
Dedicated short codes and Toll-free numbers: EZ Texting offers dedicated 5-6-digit numbers. These numbers come with unlimited keywords, guaranteed deliverability, and low messaging fees. You can also have a dedicated 10-digit toll-free number exclusive to your brand.
Text to Landline: You can enable two-way texting for your current phone number. Customers can send texts to your phone number any time of the day and get responses from your team.
SafeStop: this is a compliant opt-out feature. It makes it easy for your subscribers to opt out of your list. Customers can also report unwanted messaging and set preferences for future communications.
Contact management and segmentation: you can import contacts via an Excel or CSV doc. You can also add additional fields to them (such as email addresses or any customer field) and segment them.
Analytics & Reporting: you can track the number of texts sent or received, engagement spikes, click-through rates (CTRs), etc.
Team management: Invite (or remove) team members and users. Streamline communications between internal and client teams. And assign permissions to users to perform specific tasks.
EZ Texting pricing
EZTexting has four pricing options. Yearly plans include:
- Value ($19/month),
- Essentials ($29/month),
- Premium ($49/month),
- and Custom ($299/month).
You have 200 credits (each credit is one SMS) each month, but you can purchase additional credits at $0.04/credit. They also offer a free trial (with 20 message credits).
Their Value plan ($19/month) is quite minimal. You can have only one textable number, one keyword, and you can’t send MMS.
In their Essentials plan ($29/month) you have access to features such as:
- their premium image editor,
- Shutterstock subscription,
- reporting and analytics,
- and list growth tools.
To access their entire marketing feature set, you need to subscribe to the Premium plan ($49/month).
SlickText is an all-in-one SMS marketing software platform with great features.
SlickText top features:
Their platform has all the standard features mentioned above. Here are some highlighted features:
Text surveys: you can set up surveys and questionnaires within your dashboard. You can also assign keywords and shortcodes for them to encourage customers to take them. SlickText offers analytics and reports for surveys. So you can analyze your customer feedback. It is a crucial step for providing a great customer experience. As much as 89% of customers want companies to ask them for user feedback. To customers, this is a sign that you’re willing to listen and learn.
Automated workflows and drip campaigns: they offer amazing workflow features. You can build automated message sequences that engage and qualify potential customers. Send a constant drip of messages based on time delays or other actions. Great to provide personalized and timely offers.
Detailed analytics gives you metrics such as click-through rates and abandoned cart rates. You can also toggle the view on any workflow to watch people flow through your automations.
Double opt-in: you can require subscribers to confirm their subscription by sending “Yes”. Or similar confirmation messages. This is a useful step to ensure you have a clean phone number list and avoid extra costs or spamming people. You can turn this feature on with a simple flip of a switch!
Self-cleaning subscriber lists: the system detects numbers that aren’t valid and removes them.
100% Carrier & CTIA Compliance: they guarantee the delivery of messages. They also maintain compliance with cellular carriers and CTIA (Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association). So you won’t need to worry about legal issues.
Knowledge base and live chat support: they have great tutorials in blog posts and videos. Additionally, they offer live chat support in all their plans. In their “The Lil Bro” and higher plans, they offer 1-on-1 onboarding sessions with their experts as well.
SlickText offers a 14-day free trial with 50 free text messages (no credit card needed). Their paid plans differ based on the number of messages you can send per month and the number of keywords you need. So their Basic plan ($29/month) offers 500 messages and two keywords. If you reach your limit, you simply need to upgrade to the next plan. It seems that you can have access to all their features in all of their plans — so it’s pretty straightforward.
Textedly is another popular text message marketing platform with various nifty features. Compared to other SMS platforms discussed so far, it seems to offer more for the price.
Textedly top features
Textedly has all the standard features of the best SMS marketing platforms. Standard features are all available such as:
- mass group texting,
- two-way messaging, autoresponders,
- drip campaigns,
- comprehensive analytics,
- and MMS.
Some of their other important features are:
Voice services: turn your toll-free number or long code number into a voice call center. This way your customers can easily call the same number they text to if they prefer so.
Incoming MMS messaging: your customers can send you multimedia messages just like you. You’ll receive all these messages right in your inbox.
Instagram texting: they have a great integration with Instagram. You can add a “text us” button to your Instagram profile. This lets your followers text you when they click on that button.
Great integrations: they offer direct integrations with popular marketing and sales platforms. Additionally, you can use Zapier to integrate with even more third-party apps. For example, you can connect Textedly with Jotform. So when someone submits data to your customized Jotform web forms, they’re added to your list.
Text Message Data Collection: the platform will get and input the State, City, and ZIP code for subscribers. Additionally, you can add more custom data fields such as First and Last name and email address.
Multiple User Support: add as many users as you need to your account free of charge. This is an amazing feature for sharing your account with your team members.
They offer a 14-day free trial with 50 text messages and one custom keyword included. Their premium plans differ based on the number of text messages and the number of keywords.
Their Bronze plan ($24/month) offers 1,200 messages/month and 1 custom Keyword. If you need more you should buy their Plus plan ($39/month) which offers 2,400 messages/month and 2 custom Keywords.
SimpleTexting is an all-in-one text message marketing platform. They offer unlimited keywords in all its plans. They also have all other standard SMS marketing features. This makes them a valuable choice for a text message marketing platform.
SimpleTexting top features
Multiple keywords: with SimpleTexting you can have many keywords for your phone numbers at no extra cost. Other platforms typically limit this number for their base plans.
Great integrations: they offer many software integrations and also custom integrations. You need to reach out for custom integrations.
Templates & Duplicates: Save time by reusing your frequently-sent messages.
Advanced automation: send an automated series of messages after someone joins your list. This reduces drop-offs. Generate an automatic response when someone texts a particular keyword to your number.
Multi-user access: you can invite team members to your account and give them access to an SMS phone number. Loop them in your conversations with customers within the platform.
Link shortening: the system automatically replaces your long URLs with short bit.ly. Shortened links can only take up to 20 characters of your message space.
Great analytics: you get analytics on your subscribers, link clicks, messages sent per list, and more. With data like this, you can tweak your campaigns for best performance.
SimpleTexting offers a 14-day free trial with 50 outgoing text messages. Their paid plans are different based on the number of text messages you can send. The only pricing issue is that custom integrations are only available in the $145/month plan and above. Zapier integration and their API are available for all plans.
Postscript is one of the best text message marketing apps for Shopify stores. This means that you can use them only if you have a Shopify store. It also means that they’re deeply integrated with Shopify.
This allows you to use Shopify data for text messaging. Segment and target your customers according to:
- what they bought,
- how much they spent,
- where they came from,
- and much more.
Postscript top features
Postscript offers some great features for eCommerce businesses.
Deep Shopify integration: use your Shopify data for your SMS marketing campaigns. Features include custom coupon generation, results-based analytics, and customer+order level segmentation.
List management and growth: you can import your existing list to Postscript manually. Or grow your list using popups, keywords, opt-in forms, QR codes, or checkout collections.
Text compliance: they follow US TCPA regulations and automate compliance in the background. So you won’t need to worry about legal risks.
Good analytics: you can view analytics at two levels of messages and subscribers. You can view performance data related to the messages. This is for automations, keyword replies, confirmed opt-in messages and replies to customers. At the subscriber level, you can view behavior data and data related to opt-in sources.
Postscript offers a 30-day free trial with unlimited messages and two keywords. They offer plans according to the number of monthly messages you send. The more messages you send monthly, the less you need to pay per message. The lowest plan is $25/month for 2500 monthly messages.
SMSBump is another SMS marketing software platform designed for eCommerce stores. Besides Shopify and Shopify Plus, this platform integrates with Bigcommerce as well.
SMSBump top features:
Many list building and growth features: they offer lots of options for growing your lists. These include pop-ups, floating buttons, embedded forms, footer forms, social media opt-ins, etc.
Automated SMS flows: are a sequence of automated actions based on different triggers. These usually cover the entire sales funnel. Send messages after actions such as new registration, orders, shipping confirmations, and more.
A/B testing: before using any messages in your campaign, you can run A/B tests on them to make sure they’re the right fit. The A/B Testing feature is only available to users on their Powerhouse plans and above.
Campaign scheduling: send your messages on a given date and time using the Campaign Planner.
International sending: send SMS to the US, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and France. MMS messages are only available in the US.
They have fixed monthly prices for each one of their plans. But you need to pay separately for your messages (pay as you go). Their plans are only different in the features they offer. For example, their free plan contains their basic features, but for each SMS you send in the US, you need to pay $0.0149.
Their premium plans have more features and are $19/mo (Growth), $59/mo (Prime), and $199/mo (Powerhouse). Some advanced features are only available in their Powerhouse plan such as:
- conversational SMS flows,
- unlimited A/B testing,
- and AI-powered predictive segmentation.
8. Octane AI
Octane AI is a Shopify quiz and messenger app. They offer text message marketing services as well. You can gather customer data through quizzes and interactive pop-ups. You can use this data for sending personalized text messages.
Octane AI top features
Quizzes and interactive pop-ups: you can build quizzes or interactive pop-ups. Use them to engage customers and collect contact information. Using the data you gathered, you can send targeted text message marketing campaigns.
Facebook messenger + SMS: Octane AI offers Facebook messenger solutions besides SMS marketing services. So you can streamline all your data between these two channels. To take this a step further, you can sync this data with your email marketing if you use Klaviyo. Octane AI is deeply integrated with Klaviyo.
Custom messenger/SMS automation: they offer automation for their messaging services. You can automatically send messages to people who comment on your Facebook posts and ads. Some other automated messages are abandoned cart messages, order confirmation, and win-back campaigns.
Octane AI pricing
Octane AI offers two pricing plans: Starter ($29/month) and Enterprize (custom pricing). Their plans generally differ according to the features they offer. In the Starter plan, you have 500 engagements but you can buy more engagements at $0.06 each.
Engagement is when customers interact with any Octane AI product or feature. Some engagement examples include:
- when a visitor takes a Shop Quiz,
- engages with you via Facebook Messenger,
- or when someone subscribes to your list via their opt-in tools.
For their text message marketing software service, they offer pay-as-you-go pricing. For example, for 2000 messages, you need to pay $24 ($ 0.012 per message).
Podium is an all-in-one messaging platform that offers business solutions to small businesses. They offer text message marketing services as part of these solutions. The platform also allows you to:
- collect reviews through text messages,
- send and receive multimedia,
- create on-site webchats,
- and collect payments through text.
They also enable you to manage all this in one single inbox.
Podium top features
Omnichannel messaging: with Podium’s Inbox you can manage all messages from different sources in a single place. It brings all the messages from Google, Facebook, Instagram, iMessage, your website, email, and text messages into an inbox.
Webchat: you can have the option to receive messages from people and respond to them on your website. They need to fill in their contact information to send you a message so this could grow your contact list.
Teamchat: they give you the option to chat with your teammates as part of their messaging platform. You can also assign tasks to team members.
Video chats: you can have a secure video call with your customers by sending them a link through text. Podium also offers voice service so you can send voice messages to your customers as well.
Contact list building tools: using their tools you can build and grow your contact list. There are different options. You can create forms and popups for your website. You can use your website chat to include an opt-in whenever someone leaves an inquiry. You can integrate an opt-in point within a check-out cart or a POS system. Or even ask for your customers’ contact information after they leave a review.
Text-to-pay: send a payment request to your customers via your text message conversations. Give the flexibility to pay with credit, debit, HSA, bank transfers, Google Pay or Apple Pay.
You need to contact them to receive their plans and pricing. But, considering the features they offer, their pricing might be on the high side. Some websites mention that Podium offers three plans at $359, $499, and $700 monthly. So it’s a good idea to consider whether you need all the features before committing to a paid plan with them.
Omnisend is an email marketing and marketing automation platform. But they offer text message marketing services as well. Using SMS with your email marketing allows you to align your messaging campaigns. And take advantage of all the data you gather along the way.
Ominsend top features
Email+SMS: natively integrate SMS into your email marketing without any extra cost. This allows you to take advantage of SMS within your standard email workflow. This lets you provide a more personalized experience.
Global audience reach: they support all country codes for SMS (text-only messages). So you can reach your international customers and drive conversions from anywhere.
SMS Automation Workflows: create SMS workflows or add SMS to your email automations. They even have pre-built SMS workflows to automate your text message marketing efforts.
SMS channel reports: track the performance of your texts with channel-level filtering. Analyze how SMS is performing compared to other channels, and make data-driven decisions.
They offer three plans: Free, Standard, and Pro. Omnisend pricing differs according to the size of your contact list. For example, for up to 500 contacts you need to pay $16/month for their Standard plan, and $59/month for their Pro plan.
Their Free and Standard plans include 60 free SMS credits. For their Pro plan, free SMS credits equal the price of your plan. For example, if you pay $99/mo for the Pro plan, you’ll get $99/mo in free SMS credits. If you exceed your free SMS credits, you need to buy more credits at $0.015 per credit. They actually have an SMS/MMS cost calculator which is pretty straightforward.
What is SMS marketing?
SMS marketing or text message marketing is sending business messages like receipts, promotions, and coupons to people’s phones. It begins with an opt-in process through which people agree to receive messages from you. This makes SMS marketing permission-based and legal.
SMS vs. text messaging vs. MMS:
SMS stands for short message service. “SMS messages” and “text messages” are two popular phrases used to refer to a text sent to a mobile phone device. So there’s no difference between the two terms.
MMS (multimedia messaging service) is a different concept though. The difference between SMS and MMS is that SMS is limited to sending only text and only up to 160 characters per message. MMS can carry multimedia (image, video, voice) and deliver more than 160 characters per message. The capacity to deliver multimedia makes MMS a more engaging marketing channel than SMS.
Benefits of text marketing
If you’re anything like me, you’re cautious about where you’re spending your marketing budget. You need more than claims and promises – you need to know for sure what you’ll get for investing in SMS marketing.
Here are some of the benefits you’ll get from SMS marketing:
You don’t need to look up on the internet to make sure SMS is extremely popular among people. People have been using SMS (or text messages) for 29 years now (since 1992). And it’s part of everybody’s life: more than 97% of Americans own a cell phone. SMS message open rates are as high as 98%.
SMS marketing among marketers
Between 2016 and 2020, SMS messaging for marketing grew by approximately 197%! Marketers are fond of text messages because they’re:
- easy to compose,
- and have high engagement rates.
Preferred by customers
75% of all mobile users have no issue with getting SMS messages from brands, as long as they opted in to the service. People don’t mind getting texts from brands. Another survey shows that 48% of people surveyed preferred to receive updates from brands through text messages. It’s important to note that these texts should not be limited to promotional messages. They should also include important notices and customer support.
SMS marketing ROI
In short, SMS marketing has one of the highest ROI’s among other marketing channels. Attentive estimates that in 2020 their customers were able to generate “an average of $71 for every dollar spent” on SMS marketing. But, to better understand its effectiveness you need to know detailed metrics like open rates, response rates, and so on.
SMS marketing best practices:
As explained in our SMS marketing guide, to have a good SMS marketing strategy, you need to start with two questions:
- In what way will you use SMS marketing, and how frequently?
- Where do you draw the line between use of the channel, and overuse?
Overarching strategy aside, here are 5 SMS marketing tips and best practices:
1. Segment. Customers love feeling like a message was crafted especially for them. Conjuring such sentiments depends on segmentation. Imagine the lists you can create around shopping behaviors, marketing campaign engagement, demographics. Draft appropriate messages for each. And if you’ve got them, add first name or other profile information to personalize further.
2. Integrate with other channels. You can only take advantage of the full potential of SMS marketing if you know how to use it with other channels. For example, you can use social media to encourage contact list subscriptions. Or you can use SMS as part of your email drip campaigns to provide an omnichannel experience.
3. Be brief. The limit is 160 characters for SMS and 1,600 for MMS. Use the space wisely. Ask yourself, “What’s the point of the message, and the shortest way I can say it?” Include a link to more detailed information.
4. Ban slang. The use of SMS for a business is very different from personal texting. Reserve text slang for your personal messages. Stick to proper, yet casual, English.
5. Be mindful of your sending times. Text message notifications are enabled at all times on most phones. The guideline: send messages between 9 AM and 9 PM.
6. Prompt your customers to make a move. Include a straightforward call to action (CTA) with the corresponding link.
Best text message marketing tools conclusion
The success of your text marketing efforts depends a great deal on the SMS marketing tools you use. Limited features and delayed deliverability could waste your whole efforts.
In this article, I’ve listed ten of the most popular and efficient SMS marketing tools. These tools all offer guaranteed deliverability, nifty features, and reasonable pricing. Spend time to compare their features and pricing and read their reviews to pick the right one.