Whether you already have a marketing plan in place or are forming one for the first time, it’s safe to say any savvy business owner wants to identify the best methods for their small business marketing. After all, the better your marketing strategy, the better your business. There are numerous types of marketing campaigns you can try, some of which are specific to mobile marketing, or marketing to customers via their cell phones.
According to the Pew Research Center, 96% of adults own a cell phone today, and most of those devices can (at the very least) receive a text message. Meaning, SMS marketing can be a pretty solid way for you to reach your customers. But what exactly is SMS marketing and what are the best SMS marketing software options? Keep reading to find out.
What Is SMS Marketing?
You’ve probably received a text message from a store you’ve shopped at before or a restaurant you’ve made a reservation with—these are examples of SMS (short message service) marketing.
An SMS is essentially a text message; it’s typically limited to 160 characters per message and appears in your target audience’s messages section of their phone. You want to keep it short, to the point, and include a call to action in the message—what do you want your customer to do? Some call to action examples may be encouraging a customer to visit your store for a new sale, or asking them to confirm their attendance at an upcoming appointment.
Building a database for your SMS marketing needs makes it easy for you to send messages and increase your customer’s engagement or loyalty to your business. SMS marketing is just another piece of your marketing plan that likely includes other methods as well, like online marketing for your small business.
To send these messages efficiently, you’ll need SMS marketing software. Below, we’ll break down the best SMS marketing software options available so you can choose the best fit for your small business’s marketing strategy.
SMS Marketing Software: What to Look For
When choosing an SMS marketing software, you want to consider the capabilities you need, and how much of your marketing budget you’re willing to spend. Consider whether you solely want to stick to SMS marketing or if you might want to expand to MMS, email, or in-app messaging too. If you might want to expand, it’s important you find a company that can do more than just SMS marketing.
You also want to make sure that whatever service you choose is Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) compliant, meaning they follow the laws around messaging from companies to consumers.
4 Best SMS Marketing Software Options
If you’ve decided that SMS marketing is the right strategy for your small business, the next step is to find the best SMS marketing software so you can start reaching your customers. There are lots of options out there, and no one solution is the best for every business—it depends on your unique needs. Start with these SMS marketing software options to see which best fits your business.
Textedly is a great SMS marketing software option if you want to try a service before committing to it. They offer a 14-day free trial that offers you 300 messages to send to customers with free incoming messages, as well. They also provide SMS marketing services for companies like GoDaddy and Lyft. They scored a 9.3 out of 10 on Trustpilot and customers say it’s easy to set up and saves them time on their marketing efforts. Here are some of the features Textedly offers:
- Group texting: Send messages to your entire subscriber list at once with the click of a button.
- Mobile subscribers: Provide keywords to allow users to easily sign up for your messages. After texting the keyword, your subscribers will receive a customized auto-reply.
- Scheduled messages: Schedule single or group messages for any date and time you want.
- Automatic replies: Customize the auto replies to customers who subscribe to your texts.
- Free incoming messages: Get responses from customers for free and see them all in your inbox; you only pay for the messages you send.
- Unlimited subscribers: You can sign up as many customers you want, no restrictions.
- Extended character limit: While most messages in SMS marketing are limited to 160 characters, Textedly allows you to send a message with over 300 characters.
- Link shrinking: Shorten any hyperlinks you include in your message so you don’t waste precious characters.
- Analytics: You can see how many people click links included in your messages, performance metrics, user history, and more.
If you complete your free Textedly trial and like this SMS marketing software, you can sign up for their paid services. There are seven different tiers of service you can choose from, paid on either a monthly or annual basis. If you choose to pay on an annual basis, the service costs the same each month, but you get a bump in the number of monthly messages you can send.
- Plus: $25 per month for 2,000 messages, 2 keywords
- Enterprise: $40 per month for 3,500 messages, 3 keywords
- Elite: $55 per month for 5,000 messages, 4 keywords
- Business: $110 per month for 10,000 messages, 6 keywords
- Silver: $160 per month for 15,000 messages, 7 keywords
- Premium: $275 per month for 25,000 messages, 10 keywords
- Gold: $550 per month for 50,000 messages, 15 keywords
Businesses with marketing needs that vary from month to month might find Texting Base more accommodating as their SMS marketing software. If you’re not sure you’ll need to use all of your allotted messages every month, Texting Base is a great option for you because you can roll over the unused units or messages you have from one month to the next. There’s also no contractual obligation so you can cancel any time if you find you no longer need SMS marketing software.
Texting Base Features
- No-fee setup: You don’t need to worry about getting charged an extra fee for simply setting up your service.
- Unlimited keywords: If your SMS marketing strategy relies heavily on keywords, you’ll appreciate that Texting Base doesn’t limit the number of keywords you’re allowed.
- Scheduled messages: Schedule messages ahead of time, with the option to schedule recurring messages.
- Automated holidays and birthdays: You can make sure your customers know you’re thinking about them around holidays and on their birthdays by setting up automated texts on those occasions.
- Personalization: You can personalize the messages you send with the information you have in the database about your customers.
Texting Base measures their monthly allotments in units, rather than messages. One unit is equal to one message or one minute of calling in the U.S. Messages in other countries cost more units, so if you are looking to include international customers in your SMS marketing, this is worth noting. The number of units you’re allowed is determined by which plan you opt into. All of the plans come with unlimited keywords, so if those are important to your plan, that could be a major perk.
Texting Base Pricing
- Trial: $0, includes 250 units for one month (after one month, you’ll automatically be signed up for the standard plan)
- Standard: $50 per month for 1,250 units
- Executive: $100 per month for 4,000 units
- Executive II: $200 per month for 10,000 units
The SMS marketing software from Pocketstop, Straightxt, offers similar services to Textedly and Texting Base, but it’s just one of the many services Pocketstop offers, so if you’re looking for multiple services, this might be a good option for you. They also have a mass notification system for things like crisis communication and staff communication. They also offer text-to-chat and proximity marketing services.
- iOS and Android app: You can access Straightxt via an app on your smartphone so you can manage, make, and send messages from anywhere with service. You can also use the app to check on the campaigns you’ve already completed and get data insights on them, as well.
- URL tracking: Shorten the URLs in your SMS campaigns and check the click-through rate and other performance stats through a custom report.
- Audience segmentation: Choose specific groups to send messages to by the keyword they use to sign up, area code, or other profile data.
- Automated messaging: You can set up your campaign to send auto-replies to customers who reply to your messages.
- Deadlines: Add a custom expiration date based on when a customer opens your message.
Pocketstop doesn’t provide any pricing information for their Straightxt services. To learn more you’ll need to sign up for the free demonstration they offer or contact them directly. The good news is that even though there are no prices listed, they have rave reviews from users and are highly rated on sites like Software Advice and G2 Crowd. Something else you’ll want to confirm when you reach out for a demo or pricing, though, is how many keywords you’re allowed, since this information is not readily available.
If it’s options you’re looking for and an expansive tier of choices, definitely check out SMS marketing software SlickText. They have nine options for you to choose from, plus the option of creating a custom plan. Each plan includes an increasing number of messages and “textwords” (SlickText’s name for keywords) so you never need to sign up for more than your business requires. Here are some of the features you’ll get with SlickText’s SMS marketing software.
- Data collection: Send out multi-question surveys to collect data from your customers. This can help you learn more about your subscribers and create lists that better serve you.
- Extended character count: SlickText doesn’t limit your messages to just 160 characters; they allow six times the characters, or up to 1,600 when sending campaigns that include a photo.
- Recurring messages: To keep things organized, you can automatically send recurring messages when necessary like daily, monthly, or weekly reminders.
- Self-cleaning subscriber list: SlickText automatically goes through your subscriber list and removes any inactive numbers, landlines, and numbers that were accidentally added.
- Rollover texts: Any unused messages will rollover to your next month for free.
- Integrations: SlickText works with Zapier to offer more than 1,000 integrations with other services and also offers integrations with Shopify, Facebook, and email marketing services.
SlickText works with companies like FedEx and ESPN and has a 4.95-star rating out of 5 from Software Advice and a 4.9-star rating out of 5 from G2. They also offer a free trial if you want to check out their services and extensive features before committing to a paid plan.
- The Freebie: $0 per month for 50 messages, 1 textword
- The Basic: $29 per month for 500 messages, 2 textwords
- The Step Up: $49 per month for 1,000 messages, 4 textwords
- The Lil Bro: $79 per month for 2,000 messages, 6 textwords
- The Big Bro: $139 per month for 3,600 messages, 8 textwords
- The Boss: $189 per month for 5,000 messages, 14 textwords
- The Albatross: $350 per month for 10,000 messages, 16 textwords
- The Whale: $750 per month for 25,000 messages, 20 textwords
- The Monstro: $1,250 per month for 50,000 messages, 30 textwords
SMS Marketing Software: The Bottom Line
With how much time your customers spend on their smartphones, it shouldn’t be a surprise that short message service marketing, or SMS marketing, can be so effective for marketing to millennials and beyond. It’s a direct method that’s short enough to get your target audience’s attention and provide them with a call to action.
If you’re comparing several SMS marketing software options, there are some things to consider, including how many texts a month you need, whether you want texts that roll over month to month, how many keywords you need, whether you want the option to have auto replies to messages, and more.
Some of the best SMS marketing software options available today are Textedly, Texting Based, Strightxt, and SlickText. Each SMS marketing platform offers similar services, but they vary in keyword and message allowances, pricing, and extra features. Luckily, most of them offer a free trial, so the best option when deciding which SMS software option is right for your business may be to try out a few platforms before you make a final decision.