The 10 best SMS marketing platforms & software
Choosing the best SMS marketing automation platform can be complicated. All companies that offer SMS capabilities boast dozens of features for brands, but not all are created equal.
Like with launching any new, strategic marketing channel, it is important for marketers to choose the best text marketing platform for their use case. SMS marketing automation or text messaging automation for businesses is the ability to create SMS campaigns at scale through the features offered within a platform. This can include personalization, segmentation, A/B testing, artificial intelligence led analytics and more.
This means you need an SMS marketing platform that helps you meet your business goals, appropriately track SMS attribution as part of your holistic marketing funnel, personalize your text messages for high engagement and segment your audiences to achieve that personalization to begin with.
In general, you have 3 options when it comes to SMS marketing tools and software.
1. Complex solutions or legacy technology like Salesforce
Complex or legacy solutions are often too expensive for even large brands to maintain, and they require a lot of extra work.
- They are difficult and complex to use for you marketing team, slowing down your ability to execute on campaigns.
- They require months of implementation that stall important launches––like missing BFCM for instance.
These solutions also have limited data store and compute capacity, which means they run slowly, adding additional time to your marketer’s day. And of course, they are costly to maintain and customize.
2. Point solutions, like Attentive or Postscript
Point solutions are often the first SMS tools brands use as they explore this new marketing channel. However, point solutions don’t connect into key component of your marketing funnel, they have limited integrations, and only basic data gathering and cross-channel reporting.
Worse, these tools over-attribute their impact on your bottom line, similar to how Facebook ads used to over-report revenue generated from ads before Apple’s iOS update.
This led many brands––and arguably the entire direct-to-consumer industry––to over-invest in performance marketing. Many of those brands have struggled to correct their marketing activities to a balance between paid and owned marketing in the wake of the privacy-first changes.
A similar reckoning may be coming with SMS point solutions that have long attribution windows associated with SMS marketing, rather than a co-operative model that more accurately shows SMS attribution to your bottom line.
3. Unified customer platform, like Klaviyo
Our recommendation, of course, is to use a united customer platform like Klaviyo. This is because
- Klaviyo helps leading brands personalize communications to their customers at scale and across various communication channels including email, SMS, and push notifications.
- Built-in form capture also helps brands easily acquire new leads and customers.
- And finally, Klaviyo’s CDP capabilities house individual customer data to properly segment marketing campaigns to the right audience, and use your own data to drive revenue.
Here is what the Klaviyo tech stack looks like.
Using a unified marketing platform or software that puts email and SMS marketing services under the same roof helps you more effectively build out your automations and more accurately measure the performance of your campaigns.
But perhaps we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s define what these platforms are and the best ones on the market.
What is an SMS marketing platform?
An SMS marketing automation platform––sometimes referred to as an SMS marketing service or software––is a tool used to create and send text messages to a specified list of phone numbers.
You can use text message marketing to send anything from flash sale notifications to shipping confirmation emails, back in stock notification texts, abandoned cart texts, and much more.
Most also allow you to send campaigns as well as automated text messages that trigger based on a shopper’s actions, such as signing up for text alerts or requesting more information about a product.
Best SMS marketing platforms
Below is a list of the top SMS marketing platforms. This is not an exhaustive list and is meant to represent a wide variety of options for different businesses based on their size, goals, and customer base.
Let’s dive in.
Price: You can start sending text message campaigns and automations through Klaviyo for free up to 50 profiles. From there, Klaviyo offers competitive pricing that scales as you grow. Get more information on SMS pricing.
Year launched: 2012
Target audience: Small, medium, and large businesses can take advantage of Klaviyo’s ease of use and powerful SMS features. Klaviyo has more than 90,000 paying customers globally, making it one of the most popular ecommerce software choices after Shopify.
Other features include easy setup, multi-channel automations which include SMS and email in the same workflow, a complimentary toll-free number, SMS two-way conversations, SMS consent at checkout, A/B testing, SMS campaigns, ecommerce specialization and pre-built use cases for brands using Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Wix, or a custom-platforms via APIs, automatic consent management, two-click text personalization, single channel revenue attribution, email and SMS on one platform, multi-step sign up forms, best-in-class deliverability and text compliance, email and text messaging revenue and ROI tracking, and best-in-class segmentation across email and SMS.
Price: Free trial, prices start at $.01/message, minimum $25 / mo.
Year launched: 2018
Postscript features: SMS marketing for Shopify stores, SMS automation, segmentation, SMS Conversations, SMS campaigns, SMS-specific revenue and ROI tracking, and text compliance.
Price: By request.
Year launched: 2016
Attentive features: Triggered text messages, list growth tools like signup forms, text campaigns, segmentation, SMS-specific revenue and ROI tracking, and text compliance.
Price: Start for free.
Year launched: 2018
Attentive features: SMS marketing, segmentation, custom flows, A/B testing, SMS automations, link shortening, campaign scheduling, and an integration with Yotpo’s loyalty and rewards program––Swell.
Price: Free trial then custom pricing.
Year launched: 2018
Attentive features: SMS conversation at scale using auto-responders and artificial intelligence, one-click set up, text compliance, pre-built conversation flows, SMS-specific revenue and ROI tracking.
Price: Free trial. $0.04 per text.
Year launched: 2001
TextMagic features: Send texts online, email to SMS in which you or your application send out a standard email which is converted into an SMS to be delivered to the recipient, two-way SMS, integrations, reporting and analytics, and SMS STOP command.
Price: Tiered pricing starting at $0.02 per message.
Year launched: 2013
ClickSend features: SMS, MMS, rich messaging, and integrations.
Price: Free trial. Plans start at $25 per month.
Year launched: 2010
SimpleTexting features: Two-way messaging, scheduled texts, autoresponders, import contacts, keywords and short codes, data collection, and segments.
Price: Get started for free. Plans start at $99 per month.
Year launched: 2015
Avochato features: SMS campaigns, automation, reporting and analytics, surveys, and message templates.
Price: Start for free with 50 texts per month. Prices start at $29 per month.
Year launched: 2011
SlickText features: Send mass text messages, text message scheduling, auto-replies, text to join, MMS, two-way text messaging, text-to-win contests, and birthday texts.
An SMS service solution for every business
Whether you’re just getting started with SMS marketing or have been texting since the invention of the cell phone, this list will have an SMS marketing provider or software for you and your unique business needs.
Be sure that as you launch, you follow a crawl, walk, run approach to integrate SMS marketing into your larger marketing funnel.
SMS marketing platform features
Some text marketing features that you should look for in a text messaging platform before you make a final choice.
- Provides built in SMS marketing compliance globally
- Offers short code and toll free numbers
- Multi-step forms, click to text forms and consent form at checkout
- Integrations with third party forms
- A/B testing of textual campaigns
- Two way SMS and MMS conversations between brand and customers
- Data and predictive analysis
- Personalization and data capture through browse abandonment, MMS, dynamic images, coupon codes
SMS marketing best practices
Below you’ll find a checklist to run through before any SMS marketing campaign or automation you send. This will make sure that your texts get delivered and are engaged with. Make sure that as you look for an SMS marketing software to use, that the tool makes going through the following checklist possible and easy for your team.
Make sure that:
- The images clear and not blurry if using MMS
- You’re sending to an audience segment or relevant group rather than batch and blast SMS marketing
- The message is A/B tested––either prior to this send or ensure that this send has an A/B testing component set up so you can measure against the benchmark and constantly be improving
- You’ve used smart send time, if you are using Klaviyo, or that you have manually set up an appropriate time to send your text. Do not send text messages to folks in their local time zone prior to 9 a.m. and after 8 p.m.
- Your messages doesn’t include any spam words
- You only have one CTA / link in your message
- You’re use of emojis in the message––if you are using them––is relevant and on brand
- You can short, clear and concise messaging in your text marketing
- You’ve double-checked that the CTA / link in the text message goes to the right location
- Your message conveys a sense of urgency
- You message has a friendly tone or conversational voice that is in line with your brand standards
- Your message makes your target audience feel like a VIP
- Your image or GIF fits the concept of the message or compliments it
- You choose the appropriate medium––either SMS or MMS, or even email!
- You are not using a ton of CAPs