Business SMS platforms offer quick and convenient ways to connect with your customers, whether you’re reaching out to them with a special offer, sending them automated reminder notifications, or asking for feedback.
Given that over 75% of Americans currently receive SMS messages from companies, there’s a good chance that your business already has a text messaging service and strategy in place.
But is your texting platform as effective as it could be?
Today’s texting solutions offer new features, more competitive pricing and plans, and better ways to connect with your customers.
In this post, we’ll review the top business text messaging providers and offer tips on which platform is the best fit for the unique needs of your company.
Table of Contents:
- The Pros and Cons of Business Texting
- Key Business Text Messaging Software Features
- 5 of the Top Business Text Messaging Providers
- Additional Business Communication Channels
The below table provides a brief breakdown of the top 5 texting platform ratings and best features.
|Salesmsg||3.8||CRM integration, advanced opt-in opt-out options|
|ZipWhip||4.0||Bird’s-Eye View, Application Suite|
|TXTImpact||4.1||Numerous marketing text formats, text-to-email integrations|
|Avochato||4.2||Advanced tagging options, customer surveys|
|HeyMarket||4.8||Streamlined chat channels, superior customer service features|
One of the biggest benefits of texting is the high open rate it offers, especially when compared with other communication channels.
Recent research shows that not only do texts have an open rate of close to 100%, but also that 95% of texts are read within three minutes of receipt. 45% of texts receive a response, and that response comes within 90 seconds on average. Emails, on the other hand, offer only a 6% open rate — and any response takes, on average, roughly 90 minutes to receive.
Business texting is also convenient for you and your employees, as you can text customers from both your preferred mobile devices and desktop computers.
Texting is also one of the most popular modes of communication among customers. Studies show that over 80% of customers would like to get appointment reminders via text, while more than 50% of consumers want text promotional offers.
In addition to text message marketing and reminders, texting is also an excellent way to provide customer service. 60% of clients want to be able to text support agents back.
Texting also has an incredibly high Return on Investment (ROI.) One platform, Simple Texting, found that the average text marketing campaign has a 45% conversion rate — which is 200% higher than other ad channels like social media or email.
However, business texting does have its downsides.
Since text messaging is so instantaneous and convenient, clients will expect an immediate response — and some may feel that they can text you at any hour of the day or night. Without strong automation features in place, it’s easy to get behind — and frustrate your customers in the process.
Plus, because SMS texts must be short, (usually a maximum of 160 characters) it can sometimes be tough to get your full point across.
The below table outlines a few more of the top texting pros and cons.
|Allows for immediate and personalized responses||Can feel intrusive to some customers, not all customers willing to provide their phone numbers|
|High customer open and response rate||Not a suitable communication mode for all customer interactions, especially longer conversations or complex issues|
|Agents can send/respond to client texts when on the phone with other customers or in a meeting||Some segments of your target market may not have access to or interest in communicating via a smartphone|
|Automated text messages for basic interactions like appointment/reservation reminders save time||An additional communication channel can be difficult to manage without an omnichannel contact solution|
|Effective mass marketing tool, especially for limited-time offers, coupon codes, and market segmentation||Can take some time to grow your contact list, since customers have to opt-in|
|Offers in-depth analytics about customer behavior||Complex business texting laws with large penalties for violations|
Just as certain enterprise and small business VoIP features are non-negotiable, so are the standard features that any texting tool worth its salt will have.
Below, we’ll provide a brief explanation of the top texting platform features to look for.
- Shortcodes and Keywords
- Drip Campaigns
- Landline Texting
- Text Message Scheduling
- Customer Feedback via Voting and Polling
- Mass Text Messaging
- Analytics and Reporting
- Automated responses
Shortcodes and Keywords
Shortcodes are 5-6-digit numerical codes that businesses use when sending out marketing or customer service texts. (If you’ve ever seen a string of numbers in the “from” line of a text, you’ve been sent a shortcode.)
Keywords are also relevant words and phrases (like “Sale” or “Subscribe”) that customers can text to your business number or respond to a message from your business with. The keywords will trigger an auto reply text response, and make it easier for customers to make purchases, sign up for campaigns, and more.
Drip campaigns via text allow you to slowly and persistently guide your potential customers through a marketing funnel by sending them several texts about your company or a specific offer over a set period of time.
You can write out all the texts ahead of time, and then just click a button to automatically send them out at the opportune time.
It’s a great way to generate more leads and increase your profits — and an incredibly cost-effective way to advertise.
Landline texting allows you to communicate with customers via text message using the same business traditional desk phone number you already have. This means you can keep your toll-free or local number — or purchase a new one from your provider, as well.
You can send/receive texts to your landline number on your desktop computer, cell phone, or tablet.
Not only is this more convenient for everyone, but it also means you won’t have to give out your personal number to all of your clients.
Text Message Scheduling
Just as features like remote call forwarding make it easy for you to work from anywhere without having to be chained to your desk, so too does text scheduling.
Users can schedule mass or individual, one-on-one messages ahead of time, so they can attend to more pressing issues. You can also schedule recurring messages for individual campaigns, segments of customers, or at set intervals.
Customer Feedback via Voting and Polling
Texting is an excellent way to get customer feedback, because your clients can fill surveys and polls out on their phones from anywhere, at any time.
All they have to do is either click a texted link to be redirected to the survey website or simply use their keypad to respond “YES” or “NO” or give a numbered rating to questions. You can set up surveys to be sent out after every purchase or customer service interaction. In addition to providing shorter answers, you can also offer customers boxes where they can write their own additional comments.
Polling capabilities give customers a say and make them feel like you make business decisions based on their interests and input.
You can ask customers about their texting preferences, what kind of product or service they’d like to see from you next, or even when they’re most likely to take advantage of a sale.
Mass Text Messaging
Texting tools already make it much easier to send out numerous texts to a customer per day by letting you type out texts on your computer.
But what about if you want to use texting to market your business, or to send essential security updates and other news to those on your list?
For that, you’ll use mass texting, also called broadcasting.
This lets you send out a message to a high number of subscribers (usually a minimum of 100) simultaneously. You can send out the same message to all your clients, or send out several different messages to clients simultaneously depending on their specific interests and demographics.
This is an excellent way to find out which of your products/services your customer base is the most interested in, as well as an efficient way to alert customers of serious issues like data breaches.
Analytics and Reporting
Make sure you’re just as familiar with your texting analytics as you are with essential call center metrics.
Text message reports can be customized or built from pre-made templates. Key live and historical data to track includes:
- Text message open and click rate
- Campaign monitoring
- ROI per text/average lead cost
- Subscribe and unsubscribe rate
- Most popular message type (sale alert, poll, coupon code, etc.)
- Best times of day and days of the week to send messages
- Segemented market data
- Customer demographics data
- Average interaction length
- Agent activity
- Average response time
- Average support resolution time
Automated Responses and Notifications
Using tools like keyword analysis, texting scheduling, and conversational AI text message chatbots can provide automated pre-written responses to customers.
As with multi-level IVR in phone conversations, customers can access self-service options like paying with a credit card via text message, scheduling a phone call, booking an appointment, checking order status, or simply getting the information they need from canned responses.
These automated responses can be personalized through CRM integration, so they’ll still feel personal.
In addition to responses, texting tools should also send out automated reminders at set intervals. This ensures customers remember and confirm appointments, makes it easy to cancel if needed, and cuts down on the number of no-shows.
The top five business text messaging providers are:
#5 – Salesmsg
#4 – ZipWhip
#3 – TXTImpact
#2 – Avochato
#1 – HeyMarket
How We Determined Our Ratings
Before we tell you more about the top providers of business SMS messaging, let’s quickly discuss the methodology we used to create and rate this list.
In order to be considered, the providers were required to offer two-way text messaging. Apps that offered only mass marketing, one-way messages were not eligible.
We also studied the pricing structure of available providers, both in terms of affordability and scalability. This meant tools with only one plan were not considered. Any texting app featured here has a minimum of two available paid plans or offers customizable pricing options.
To rate pricing, we examined how close the most affordable plan was to $50, the average cost per month of messaging services.
Each provider has a rating from 1-5, with 5 being the highest score and 1 being the lowest.
Providers were scored according to:
- Overall pricing
- Number of texts available per month (the higher the number, the higher the score)
- Quality of one-on-one customer service communication features
- Quality of marketing features
- Overall user experience
Salesmsg is a scalable two-way texting provider that’s especially geared towards helping companies increase their sales.
It’s also a good choice for companies that rely heavily on customer data from third-party CRM tools like Salesforce.
Advanced integrations allow agents to personalize messages by automatically integrating customer data from CRM or marketing automation platforms into outbound texts. Salesmsg then automatically updates your CRM tool with notes, activities, and messages from the text message.
Salesmsg also makes it much easier to organize internal teams and ensure customers connect with the right agents by letting agents share a team-wide phone number. This means that if one agent isn’t available, another team member can immediately step in to respond to the customer. You can allow any team member to answer on a first-come, first-serve basis, or set round-robin routing. The process is similar to VoIP call routing.
Private numbers are also available for every team member for increased security.
The tool also offers extensive automated replies and one-click canned responses.
Popular options include autoresponses that text customers your business hours when they contact you during out-of-work hours or responses to FAQs. Users can create a title, limit which team members/department can use a specific canned response, and specify any necessary integration.
Salesmsg offers a free 14-day trial and three paid plans. One message is equal to 160 characters, and additional messages can be purchased for $0.025 per text.
All plans include:
- Unlimited contacts
- Unlimited app integrations
- MMS picture, GIF, emojis, and vCards
- Landline texting
- Built-in call forwarding
- Tag segmentation
- Searchable contacts
- Message broadcasting
- Double opt-in, opt-out security measures
The below table outlines the three available plans:
|Number of Texts per Month||750||7,500||Customizable|
|Integrations||Basic Apps, Zapier||Premium Apps and Zapier||Premium Apps and Zapier|
|SMS Broadcasting||Limited||Up to 1,000||Up to 79,000 and with Short Code|
|Customer Success Team and Onboarding||X||✓||✓|
|Advanced Customer Support||X||X||1:1 phone support, managed account setup|
|Dedicated Short Code Access||X||X||✓|
|Pricing||2.5||The cheapest plan is $35.00/month, and the plan with advanced features is $300.00/month, with no options in between|
|Texts per Month||3.5||The cheapest plan offers 750 texts/month|
|Customer Service Features||4.5||Routing options for responses, private phone numbers, advanced CRM integrations|
|Marketing Features||4.7||Good mass texting options, advanced autoresponse options|
|User-Friendliness||4.7||Excellent onboarding training and customer support according to user reviews|
Overall Score: 3.88
ZipWhip is a two-way texting solution designed to cut down on other forms of communication like phone calls and emails.
Their top feature is landline texting, which enables you to receive texts on your business landline number, not just on your mobile phone.
ZipWhip also offers a “Click-to-Text” feature. It allows customers visiting your website on a mobile or desktop application to click on your business number to start texting your company. You can even create a default, pre-written text like, “Hi, I’d like to text about your product now,” that you’ll receive via text when anyone hits the Click-to-Text button. In addition to text phone alerts, you’ll also get an email notification when anyone uses the Click-to-Text button.
The interface is also unique, as it allows you to get a bird’s-eye view of all of your incoming texts in one unified feed. This way, there’s no need to search individual conversations to find the latest information, and it’s easier to ensure you’ve followed up with everyone who texted you in a day.
Team members can access ZipWhip’s application suite, which lets them send/receive messages and notifications via a Mac or Windows desktop app, an iOS iPhone or Android mobile app, or a web-based app. A Google Chrome browser extension is also available.
ZipWhip offers a free trial and four paid plans. Each plan comes with:
- Unlimited contacts
- MMS messaging capabilities, allowing you to send videos and photos
- Access to the full application suite
- Message push notifications
- Basic reporting and analytics
The table below outlines the four plans.
|Number of Messages per Month||500||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Number of Users per Month||1||3||5||Unlimited|
|Lines per Month||1||1||1||Unlimited|
|Keywords||X||For purchase||3 Included, Additional for Purchase||Unlimited|
|Group Texting||X||X||Up to 100 BCC group members||Up to 100 BCC group members|
|Advanced Personalization Options||X||X||X||✓|
|Dedicated Account Manager||X||X||X||✓|
|Custom Signatures and Payments By Text||X||X||Payments by text only||✓|
|Pricing||4.5||The starter plan is only $20/month, and users can send unlimited messages and access more features on the average-priced plan|
|Texts per Month||3.00||500 messages/month on the basic plan, (lowest number on the list) unlimited for others|
|Customer Service Features||3.5||Fairly standard features|
|Marketing Features||4.00||Good, but only up to 100 mass marketing text recipients at a time|
|User-Friendliness||5.00||Application Suite and Birds-Eye View|
Overall Score: 4.00
TXTImpact is a business text marketing and customer service platform with a specific focus on mass messaging.
It’s a great option for businesses that are looking for a more basic, user-friendly texting provider, as well as those who primarily want to use texting for marketing purposes as opposed to customer service.
TXTImpact makes it easy to manage texts from your email, whether that’s through Gmail, Yahoo, Lotus Notes, or Outlook. It has a unique Outlook Text Message feature that lets users send texts to customers and coworkers from Microsoft Outlook 2007, 2010, and Sharepoint 2010. Users can even send personal mass texts directly from Excel spreadsheets, or simply via TXTImpact’s mobile app.
In addition to a click-to-text website button, WordPress website users can use the WordPress plugin that allows blog visitors to sign up for texts every time you create a new blog post.
SMS API options allow for advanced message scheduling, two-way texting, and extended length texts.
In terms of marketing features, TXTImpact goes above and beyond. Texting autoresponders, text-to-join campaigns, and built-in link shorteners make it much easier to connect with consumers. You can also send drip messages, mobile coupons, automated birthday wishes, and Text to Win sweepstakes. It also offers a store locator feature, so customers can text to learn more about upcoming deals, store hours, and access store-specific sales/coupon codes.
It also offers international texting capabilities within over 200 countries.
TXTImpact offers a free 7-day trial and three paid plans. One text credit is equal to 160 characters.
Each plan comes with the following features:
- Free inbound messages
- 1 free local or toll-free number
- Picture texting
- Recurring texts
- Landline to text
- SMS polling and surveys
- Zapier and Zendesk integration
- Market segmentation and contact grouping
- Broadcast mass texting
- Forward replies to email or smartphone number
- Automated appointment reminders
- Click-to-text website form
- Automatic opt-out
- Tiny URLs included in texts
- Multi-user accounts
- Real-time message delivery reports
- Coupon codes
- Import existing contacts
The below table outlines the three paid plans.
|Number of Users||1||5||10|
|Monthly Text Credits||1,000||2,500||9,000|
|Overage Text Credit||$0.05||$0.04||$0.33|
|Number of Keywords||1||2||5|
|Branded Short URL||X||X||✓|
|Shared Short Code||X||X||✓|
|Pricing||4.00||The cheapest plan costs an average of $50.00/month, but the Pro plan is expensive|
|Texts per Month||4.00||Cheapest Plan has 1,000 texts/month|
|Customer Service Features||3.7||Advanced website click-to-chat capabilities, but the tool is primarily geared towards SMS marketing|
|Marketing Features||5.00||Advanced features like text-to-win, recurring texts, polling|
|User-Friendliness||4.00||Consistent mentions of excellent customer support in reviews, but the interface is a bit outdated|
Overall Score: 4.15
Avochato is a text messaging platform with a collaborative inbox that combines messages from your website chat widget and SMS messages. This means customers can choose between texting and chat messaging, but no matter their choice, agents will be able to see every conversation in one interface.
You can use the texting feature on existing numbers or add new toll-free or local numbers provided by Avochato.
Its dashboard offers a live view of your inbox and current chats, showing valuable data like average wait time, current agent status, and the average time for first response and resolution. You can view this data for teams or for individual agents.
In addition to one-on-one two-way texting, you can also use the Broadcast feature to send out mass texts and track their performance.
One of Avochato’s most unique features is that it allows you to add Tags to your contacts and chats for better segmentation and easier organization. You can tag according to location, specific campaign, internal vs external messages, company, and much more. You also have the option to create entirely customizable tags, as well as to create expiration dates for tags related to certain projects or campaigns.
Avochato is a particularly good option for companies interested in getting customer feedback through text surveys. Customer surveys are activated via keywords that allow you to ask your customers the most important questions and collect their contact information in the process.
Note that Avochato offers two types of separate paid plans: one for customer support and follow-up messaging, and the other for marketing messaging.
The two tables below outline the available support and marketing plans.
Customer Support Plans
All Customer Support plans include:
- Unlimited contacts
- Conversation tagging
- Custom message templates
- Real-time analytics
- Live chat
There are three paid plans.
|Pricing||$27.00/user per month, minimum of 3 users||$40.00/user per month, minimum of 5 users||$57.00/user per month, minimum of 7 users|
|Number of Free Messages Per Year||24,000||60,000||120,000|
|Number of Phone Lines||3||5||7|
|SMS Drip Campaigns||X||✓||✓|
|Zapier and Slack Integration||X||✓||✓ Plus Salesforce and Full API Access|
All Marketing plans include:
- Unlimited contacts
- Unlimited keywords
- Three phone numbers
- Real-time analytics
There are three paid marketing options.
|Number of Free Messages Per Year||24,000||60,000||120,000|
|Number of Users Included||3||5||7|
|SMS Drip Campaigns||X||✓||✓|
|Slack and Zapier Integrations||X||✓||✓ Plus Salesforce|
|Full API Access||X||X||✓|
|Pricing||2.5||Though the cheapest customer service plan is under $50.00, users must buy separate customer service and marketing plans|
|Texts per Month||5.00||The cheapest plan offers 2,000 free texts per month|
|Customer Service Features||4.5||Conversation tagging, advanced customer surveys|
|Marketing Features||4.5||Aside from analytics, fairly standard features|
|User-Friendliness||4.5||User interface showing agent status and current conservation status is intuitive and uncrowded|
Overall Score: 4.2
Heymarket is a centralized, omnichannel SMS and chat messaging platform that combines business texts with messages from other popular social media and messaging platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and more.
It’s especially ideal for large, enterprise-level companies with a high number of employees and a high SMS contact volume. It’s also a smart choice for businesses of any size that need an affordable texting tool with advanced features. Given that it integrates with more than 1,500 business communication tools, it will certainly be a benefit to companies using multiple platforms.
As with other tools on this list, it provides both private and team-wide shared message inboxes. However, it also allows you to assign specific messages and interactions to specific agents. Even better, while communicating with a customer, team members can tag each other in private messages during the conversation in the same message thread. This makes it easy to get quick clarification without having to leave the conversation with the customer.
It also offers text-enabled landlines, drip campaign management, and advanced APIs that make custom templates, message scheduling, and contact management even easier.
Unlike many other platforms, Heymarket also has functionalities specifically geared towards texts related to logistics, dispatch, and operations. This includes options for shift scheduling, the ability to send photos of work sites or shipments, and real-time shipping and shipment location updates.
Heymarket offers four paid plans and a free trial. Each plan includes:
- Unlimited users
- Unlimited contacts
- Unlimited devices
- Unlimited keywords
- Unlimited message retention
- Message templates
- MMS messages
- Channel integration with WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Google Business Messenger, Apple Business Chat, and your website’s chat messaging widget
- Message scheduling
- Custom signature
- Automations and autoresponses
- Mass SMS messaging campaigns
- Team administration and assignment
The available plans and prices are outlined in the table below.
|Included Text Messages per Year||12,000||30,000||60,000||Quote-Based|
|List Size per Day||400||600||800||Unlimited|
|Reports||Up to 90 days||Up to 1 year||Up to 2 years||Unlimited|
|Export Chats and Reports||X||X||✓||✓|
|Prioritized Customer Support||X||X||X||✓|
|Pricing||5.00||Excellent value, especially for the number of texts and lists|
|Texts per Month||5.00||The cheapest plan includes 2,000 texts per month|
|Customer Service Features||4.8||Unlimited message retention, omnichannel messaging view|
|Marketing Features||4.5||Large daily list sizes|
|User-Friendliness||4.7||Excellent customer support, the interface can sometimes get overcrowded due to the number of options|
Overall Score: 4.8
In addition to business text messaging, there are numerous other communication channels to explore.
The channels you choose will depend on your customer base, the number of agents/employees you have, your preferred main channel, and additional factors.
Top channels include:
If you do decide to expand your contact channels, it’s best to transition to an omnichannel contact center. This means that, as opposed to having to transition between multiple apps throughout the day, you will be able to view and communicate through all your channels within a single app.
To learn more about available contact center software, as well as additional modes of business communication, read our reviews of top providers.