The 5 Best Apps for SMS Marketing Marketing for Small Business

Melanie Balke
May 1, 2023

Digital marketing has expanded the reach of many brands, but it also breeds fierce competition.

Fortunately, there are still ways to amplify your marketing budget.

There is (of course!) email marketing, which boasts consistently impressive ROI and revenue. You can also try your hand at social media marketing. But — if you really want to stand out — one of the best marketing channels is SMS.

Why SMS Marketing for Small Businesses (and Big Businesses) Works

A phone and a laptop. "The Benefits of SMS Marketing for Small Businesses."

As one of the world’s most personal communication channels, text messages are ubiquitous in everyday life. Love them or hate them, these handy 160-characters-or-less blurbs let people maintain constant contact with one another. And — by extension — they can help your brand build similarly strong bridges.

SMS Marketing Lets Businesses Build Strong Customer Relationships

A circus. "Relationships: SMS marketing is perfect for building lasting relationships."

One of the key benefits of SMS marketing is its ability to draw in both old and new customers. Well-written and perfectly timed messages are fantastic ways to keep customers interested in your brand, even when there’s no  active push for a new product or release.

The inherently personal status of a mobile device also makes it the ideal way to keep the lines of communication open. After all, don’t you usually have your phone in your pocket?

Now, think of how many customers are doing the same! Who knows how many people have their phones with them right now?

Each of those individuals has the potential to become a loyal customer. With a two-way line, you can also facilitate one-on-one conversations with your consumers, further boosting your brand’s image.

Boost Your Customer Engagement With a Text Messaging Service

A side show. "Engagement: Text marketing boasts high open rates and huge engagement."

Speaking of open communication, both generic and personalized messages show consistently high engagement rates.

One of the reasons for these results is interest. Generally, you don’t collect phone numbers from prospective customers who feel lukewarm at best towards your brand. No, you’re snagging leads from genuinely interested folk! The narrow target audience of text message marketing makes it an even more effective way to send customers updates and sales. It also makes it more likely that you’ll receive customer feedback.

Remember, too, that you’re being trusted with a customer’s personal contact information. All of your texts are held in the same esteem as messages from friends and family. Now, I am not saying to abuse that trust. In fact, I’m going to say the opposite.

If you want your SMS marketing efforts to be successful, you must maintain and uphold that trust by using your powers responsibly.

Gain New Leads With the Right Marketing Tools

A person shopping. "Grow More: A small business can leverage SMS as a lead generation tactic."

Should you maintain that trust, you’ll often find yourself handling an even bigger reward!

Well… Yes, there are purchases. There’s the money that inbound messages can bring. But I’m talking about something else.

I’m talking about how your SMS marketing campaigns can net you even more leads. Well-implemented customer loyalty programs — particularly those with referral programs — have the potential to become massive business opportunities. A single discount code can be forwarded to friends and family through the same intimate channel, turning a few existing customers into dozens of new purchases.

And you still maintain the same perks. Every message still goes to SMS inboxes, and individuals doing their routine mobile phone checks still see your marketing campaigns.

A Quick Word of Caution

Now, before you get too excited, I must make myself clear.

You should always strive to maintain a squeaky-clean reputation. That means following all relevant laws (e.g., The United States’ CAN-SPAM Act, CCPA, and the European Union’s GDPR) and avoiding unsolicited messages. You’ll also want to brush up on your target audience and stay on top of what makes people tick.

Don’t just send SMS messages willy-nilly, either!

Keep your marketing messages focused.

Your text marketing is not a newsletter. It’s exactly what it says on the box: a short message service. The best SMS marketing for small businesses is targeted and personalized but not too personal.

Summarily: It takes a lot of work to make effective SMS marketing campaigns, and you can’t exactly send them from your personal phone. So, what does a small business owner looking to invest in SMS marketing do?

The Magic of SMS Marketing Services

Multiple rotary phonnes. "How to Do It: All about Text Message Platforms."

As is usual for these blogs, it’s time for me to answer my own question.

Small businesses (and large ones, for that matter!) use either in-house or publicly available SMS marketing services to manage and maintain marketing efforts. These programs are similar to email marketing platforms, and some email providers offer SMS bundles.

What Does SMS Marketing Software Do?

Think of all the services you’d need to send messages:

  • A way to send customers your marketing messages (duh!)
  • A way to receive SMS messages
  • Insights on your marketing
  • A platform to create promotions
  • A scheduling platform
  • Secure storage for your contact list
  • Services for contact management
  • Technology for automated messages (e.g., appointment reminders)

There are also add-ons — the odds and ends you don’t necessarily need but are nice to have. Some examples of additional features include:

  • The ability to see previews of your text marketing material
  • Advanced automation features (e.g., for customer loyalty programs)
  • Customer engagement tools
  • A service to send personalized messages

The best text marketing platforms have these features and more.

But they aren’t free.

What Is the Best Software for Your SMS Campaigns?

A person with painted nails using a cell phone. "The Top 5 Picks for SMS Software."

So, to spare you some time (and to get to the meat of today’s blog post), I’ve compiled a list of the best SMS marketing software. That being said, it never hurts to do more research! Always double- and triple-check before you make that final call, and remember that any investment can turn into a nightmare if you’re  not careful.

1. Klaviyo

Tools on a wooden table. "Klaviyo: The best multi-channel marketing platform for SMS and email."

How good is Klaviyo?

Well, it’s one of our favorite options at The Email Marketers! How’s that for customer satisfaction?

As one of the most expansive email marketing tools on the market, it’s no surprise that Klaviyo expanded to include text message marketing. Its software includes the ability to personalize messages and schedule campaigns according to time zones. It’s also a fast and easy-to-use platform, although there’s a slight learning curve.

However, Klaviyo does not offer standalone SMS marketing. You’ll have to get both programs, but that’s not really a bad thing. The ability to reach other marketing channels is a huge plus, and the price difference is negligible (about $25 more).

The free Klaviyo plan offers 150 email and SMS credits, while the lowest tier (1,250 combined credits) is $65 per month.

You can also expect access to tools that help you manage your contact list, support for email compatibility on mobile phones, and tutorials about amplifying your marketing strategy.

2. SimpleTexting

Farming tools laid out on a table. "SimpleTexting: A small business' best friend for low-cost SMS marketing."

The best all-around budget service is SimpleTexting.

For just $29 per month, you get 500 SMS credits. Your fee also covers the necessary services to send and receive text messages. The platform’s analytics are rich enough to give you insights without being confusingly complex.

SimpleTexting is a standalone platform, so you won’t get the same email marketing access as Klaviyo. That being said, it offers native integration with MailChimp and Zapier. If you’re not looking at an advanced marketing strategy and have a small handful of phone numbers, SimpleTexting may be the best pick.

3. Attentive

A pile of pennies. "Attentive: The best option for small businesses with big needs."

Looking for something more powerful?

Attentive is the Klaviyo of SMS marketing for small businesses. Its SMS service is packed with content and insights, although this makes it a complex platform with a steep learning curve. Moreover, pricing is done on a case-by-case basis.

Nonetheless, if you’re not afraid of expenses, Attentive is one of the richest text marketing platforms available. In addition to the basic features one would expect (e.g., sending and receiving messages), Attentive also comes with a native AI-powered writing assistant, countless integrations, and audience management tools.

It’s the ideal tool for small businesses seeking massive growth, and it scales seamlessly as its clients grow. Its advanced technology and rich features have earned Attentive countless loyal customers, and it’s one of the most popular SMS platforms on the market.

4. Twilio

Assorted European coins. "Twilio: The low-cost option for sending SMS messages."

With its pay-as-you-go pricing, Twilio is a great choice for a small business owner with a budget. Single messages — both incoming and outgoing — are around 1–2¢. And the platform includes analytics with its services. Local number messages are slightly less expensive, while toll-free services are a fraction of a cent more expensive.

However, Twilio is a multi-channel platform, so don’t expect the same depth as Klaviyo or Attentive. Nonetheless, you can easily pair Twilio with other apps in the brand’s portfolio to cross-promote your brand on other marketing channels.

In addition to its SMS platform, Twilio offers email, voice call forwarding, and video-based platforms.

5. SMSBump

Grassy hills. "SMSBump: A scalable solution for small business owners."

Prices for SMSBump range from $19–$199 per month, making this standalone service a great way for small businesses to ease into text marketing.

Like Attentive, SMSBump focuses on SMS marketing for small business owners, although it also powers some major brands. The platform’s technology supports automated messages, constant contact strategies, and the ability to receive messages. You can also expect to receive plenty of insights for your campaigns.

Higher-tier plans — starting at $59 per month — come with a native AI assistant, branded short URLs, and built-in segmentation. The highest tier comes with a personal strategist to help you reach the most prospective customers with the least effort.

Feeling the Pressure? Don’t Worry!

"Relax! Hire Us to Help With Your Texts." The text is overlaid on multiple overlapping leaves.

Overwhelmed by the options?

Don’t sweat it! The experts at The Email Marketers also handle SMS marketing for small businesses, and we’re more than happy to get you hooked up.

When you team up with us, your journey to find the perfect software is over. We’ll handle all of that for you; just sit back and wait for the results.

Not convinced? Give me a call for a free strategy session. We’ll discuss your business needs and show you how our services can amplify your brand. And don’t forget to check out the rest of our blog for more info!