by Ernesto Comodo
When is the last time you didn’t read an email you received? You might have some emails on your mailbox right now that have not read. How about your text messages? Any unread? Not as common. Gartner reports that, on average, emails are opened about 20% of the time, while SMS messages are opened up to 98% of the time.
If you have a small business and want to feel confident that your customers are looking at their appointment reminders, invoices, and special offers you send, using an SMS is one of the most if not the most effective ways to do it.
There are many benefits of using text message marketing, as well as some potential cons.
The direct, personal nature of text messaging should be taken with caution as it provides an excellent opportunity for businesses to speak directly with customers, but is also a thin line to walk in terms of respecting customers’ privacy.
• High conversion rate. About 90% + open rate versus email usually hovers around 20%
• People quickly open, read and respond to texts.
• It’s a cost-effective marketing method.
• You can customize and personalize texts to fit your customers.
• The services offer a wide variety of tracking and analytics features.
• There can be a learning curve to use the services effectively.
• It can be time-consuming to grow your contact phone number list.
• A text message marketing campaign requires constant attention and effort
And it should be integrated with other channels for a bigger effect
There are many options to use, so I will review my top 5 to help you decide on the best service for your business.
Pay as you go .04¢ per text in the US
Virtual Number $4
Best SMS app for getting started quickly
TextMagic is the simplest one. If you have a quick text to send out or have events a few times a year; this could be the best way to go. You hve no monthly fee and just pay as you go 0.04¢ per text. Now it does add up if you are sending 5,000 or more texts at a time you might want to consider other options.
Free – 50 Text/mo / $29 500 texts
Easy with some advance campaign features
SlickText is another simple platform and very easy to get started with a little more advance features than TextMagic.
SlickText allows MMS on all messages which extends your character limit from 160 to 1,600 characters. Easy to do sweepstakes, text to win, birthday texts and drip campaigns to subscribers after they join a list.
Other campaigns also include auto repeating messages, coming soon automated workflows. Mobile Coupons that can be used with POS barcode.
Integrates with Shopify ecommerce platform to create subscriber segmentation, integrates with zapier CRM, email capture and email integration sync with MailChimp, ConstantContact
ActiveCampaign and a few others.
$25 – 500 text / $45 – 1,000 text / $75 2,000 text /
Easiest to app to run campaigns.
For example, potential customers can text PIZZA to 555888 and get put on your pizza deals list.
As soon as they join, an autoresponder can immediately text them with a discount code and ask them if they want more information. If they do, it can respond with another text.
With SimpleTexting’s built-in apps available in the Apps tab, you can also conduct more technical marketing efforts like running surveys, polls, and sweepstakes.
SimpleTexting’s analytics offer detailed breakdowns of how your campaigns are going with information like the number of new subscribers, what keyword they’re using to join, how many autoresponders have triggered, how many people have unsubscribed, and what responses you’ve been sent.
0.024¢ message under 2,000 / Inbound messages free
Dedicated number $1.77/month
Best SMS app for integrating with other marketing channels
You can send someone both a text message with a short summary of a special offer and, at the same time an email with the full details on how they can claim it. Or you can set up an automation so that if someone sends you a text message, you respond with an MMS or email.
The app is simple but each channel is controlled separately. To send a text message campaign, select SMS then SMS Campaigns from the sidebar; to send an email, it’s Email Marketing then Email Campaigns. Conversations such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and similar platforms are coming soon, so you’ll really be able to reach your customers wherever they are and whatever apps they use.
Overall is a little learning curve as they have a pricing model for each channel.
0.0075¢ to send and to receive, picture message 0.02¢ to receive 0.01¢
Dedicated number $1/month
Best SMS app for customization
Currently Twillo is the biggest name in SMS services, and, while it’s mainly an API and aimed at developers, you don’t actually need to be a developer to use it.
It has great integration with CRM apps like Zapier, HubSpot, and Zoho. You can also use Twilio’s API directly, without the need for you to do any coding. For example, by connecting your Twilio account to your Zapier account, you’ll be able to send and receive text messages using your email account or collect texts in Slack or a Google Sheets spreadsheet.
Twilio also offers, a drag-and-drop app builder for creating things like SMS surveys and autoresponders. You start with a trigger, like an incoming message or a calendar event. You can then create reply criteria based on what’s happened. It’s all very intuitive, and the built-in tutorials and project templates make it possible for anyone to get started.
For most use cases, Twilio should work out cheaper than the other services if you’re prepared to do the work to get it up and running.
If you have 500 texts it will only cost you $3.75 or send 10,000 messages for just $75.
Which App Should I use?
Which app you should use depends entirely on what you’re trying to do. If you want a simple, easy-to-use service that you can get up and running quickly, TextMagic and SlickText are great options. If you’re looking for something that’s more marketing focused, SimpleTexting and ClickSend are your best bets, and you can make Twilio do more or less anything you want if you are patient with setup and integrating everything. All the apps offer free or $1 trials, so give a few a try and then decide.
Note of caution; if you have 500 contacts but plan to repeat a text message to all your contacts you need a plan for 1000 messages.
And one last tip would be to review what current software you use to run your business: eCommerce, CRM, email, social media see which has the most integrations and that should give you your answer.
If there is any other apps you prefer that where not mentioned please put them in the comments and explain why you like them.
Creative Director of 907K Marketing , Co-Owner of eBiz Marketing Academy and Marketing Director of LA South Chamber of Commerce.
15+ years of experience working in Marketing, is a Shopify Partner and Google Ads Partner.