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The 5 best SMS apps for small businesses

02 23 2021 | 16:41View: 56

The 5 best SMS apps for small businesses

TextMagic for getting started quickly with an SMS service

SimpleTexting for easy-to-run SMS marketing campaigns

Salesmsg for small, local businesses using SMS

EZ Texting for non-technical people who want some guidance on SMS marketing

Twilio for customizing your SMS marketing

What makes a great SMS app?

SMS marketing is a big industry, and there are dozens of different apps out there. Not all of them, however, are appropriate for small businesses. A lot of text message services are designed for enterprise companies sending thousands of SMS messages a day as part of a marketing push, rather than for smaller businesses that have a more personal relationship with their customers. Similarly, a lot of popular options are API services for developers looking to build their own apps, rather than a service anyone can sign up for and use straight away.

To cut through the crowd, I set five key criteria that every app needed in order to make the list.

Easy to use, even for the non-technically inclined. Setting up an SMS app for your business shouldn't require a doctorate in software engineering. Some of the SMS API services (and even a few of the dedicated apps) just aren't user friendly enough to recommend. I've only included apps that a regular person could set up, connect to their existing systems, and use. Yes, you might need to read through the help documents or ask the support team a question or two, but all of my picks are easy to use. In practice, this means that almost all the apps on the list have a dedicated web app you can use to send and receive messages. A lot of them also have the ability to send and receive text messages through your email client or with mobile apps.  

Capable of true two-way messaging, so you can have a conversation with your customers. There are some great marketing SMS apps that can send 100,000 text messages with the click of a button. None of them are on this list. They're for enterprise companies operating at a huge scale. For small businesses, that kind of one-way, mass marketing is kind of unnecessary—and even inappropriate. It could only be used to spam customers. Instead, as I said, I looked for apps that have proper two-way messaging, so you can have a normal text conversation with your customers if needed. You can still automate responses and collect survey data with a lot of them, but they aren't completely hands-off platforms. 

Able to integrate with other apps and services, so you can automate things like reservation reminders. Integrations with other apps and services were a must. This means that, in addition to texting your customers directly, you can also (for example) have your reservations service automatically remind customers about a booking and follow up with a customer satisfaction survey.

Affordable with low volume requirements, so small businesses can get started. When it comes to sending SMS messages to your customers, pricing matters. I required all the SMS services on this list to be affordable for small businesses. This meant no high monthly pricing or large volume requirements. Instead, all the services are either pay-as-you-go or have low volume, low fee monthly plans. 

Able to scale with your growth and seasonal needs, so you can send out more messages as part of a holiday campaign, for example. Being locked into a plan that's too small for your business is no good either. So as well as being affordable when you're starting out, I also required the services to be able to scale up, either as you grow or because you're doing a shorter-term marketing campaign.