Text message marketing services are more than a way to send text messages. They are full-scale marketing solutions that help you engage with your audience, track results and improve your customer service.
When you're looking for a text message marketing provider, it can be challenging to know which of the many features you need. Here are the features we think are the most valuable for businesses to look for in a service.
Analytics and Reports
Analytics are a vital part of text message marketing. These numbers tell you which campaigns were successful and which ones were not. Analytics also provide insight into why they performed the way they did.
Automation tools allow you to program messages to send automatically at the same time every day, week or month.
You can't have a text message marketing campaign without a strong base of subscribers to receive them. The contact management feature keeps your contacts organized, fresh and easy to access.
Customization Personalization goes a long way in customers' engagement with your messages. Some texting solutions capture customer data, such as the person's full name, birthday, and ZIP code, which opens up new possibilities for your marketing campaigns. For example, you could send a customer deals on their birthday or alert them to your sales in their area to show appreciation for them as unique customers. Other customization options extend to your integrations – for example, SimpleTexting can create free custom integrations for you in-house.
Drip Campaigns With this feature, you can send out automated messages based on conditions you set using if-then commands. Each step of the customer journey can trigger its own message, such as a greeting upon opt-in, a confirmation for each purchase, or a request for feedback after a customer service encounter.
Free Incoming Text Messages
The best text message marketing companies offer complimentary incoming text messages. This means you can allow your customers to reply to you without bringing up your costs; you only pay for the messages you send.
Some text message companies integrate with other platforms, such as email marketing programs Mailchimp and Constant Contact. These integrations can significantly increase your productivity and capabilities, letting you automatically import and sync data across all your business software. [Learn more about these email marketing solutions in our Mailchimp review and Constant Contact review.]
SMS messages typically allow no more than 160 characters. This limit can pose challenges when you need to insert links – how can you send a compelling text when half of it is a link? Some text message marketing platforms offer link shorteners that solve this problem, reducing any link to 15 characters at most.
If you send the same text message frequently, look for a solution that lets you create and save templates so you can send messages faster.
Multimedia Messaging (MMS)
Some services allow you to send pictures, videos and audio clips to make your messages stand out.
You can build your contact list with mobile keywords, allowing customers to opt in to your messages by texting you a single word. The best solutions allow you to choose custom keywords and track their usage. Many plans require you to pay extra for more keywords, though.
Small businesses often print QR codes on flyers and other physical materials to automate the customer's text message subscription process. Customers can scan the QR code to load the marketing numbers and keywords into their text messaging apps. This feature is increasingly common but not yet universal among SMS marketing platforms.
Tip: The next time you print out ads that you'll hand to people at events, include a QR code for your text message marketing list. This way, potential customers can sign up in just a few seconds – and you can keep engaging them thereafter. Learn other ways to use QR codes in marketing.
Scheduling text messages in advance can increase your productivity, because you won't have to remember to send texts out manually at certain times. The timing of text messages is important, especially if you have customers in various time zones, so it helps to automate this function.
You can gather customer feedback with polls and surveys. The best solutions make it easy to gather responses and adjust your campaigns or analytics with these tools. Learn how to send your customers an SMS survey.
A text-to-landline feature lets you send and receive text messages through your business landline phone number with no changes to your voice service.
Web Signup Forms
Engaging customers via text can start with getting them to subscribe while they're engaged with your brand in other ways. Web signup forms are a great example. You can embed them on your website or e-commerce store to generate text message marketing leads already interested in your business.