Texting enables you to connect with contacts and customers in fast and personalized ways. In fact, 98% of text messages get opened immediately and 67% of customers would rather text than talk or email with a business.
If you're interested in business-grade text messaging you have a myriad of options (including MessageDesk). But what you really need is a way to know which texting app will work best for your business or organization.
To help, we’ve put together a guide for evaluating the best texting apps. The following is a list of the twelve features and capabilities you should look for in a good text messaging service.
The first thing to consider is ease-of-use. If a text messaging app isn’t easy to use then it’s not worth paying for.
Look for text messaging apps or services with a simple, clean, easy to understand interface.
Just because an app gives you more options, doesn’t mean it’s better. It just means that it’s going to take you and your team longer to understand and use.
Whatever app you choose, make sure that it enables you to connect with customers more efficiently.
Chances are, you already have to do everything for your small business, so an app that only makes it harder to respond to customer texts isn't of much use.
Many people are used to getting SMS text messages on their phones. But if you’re looking at text messaging services for your business or organization, then you’ll probably need a way to text from your desktop or tablet.
If your business or organization works almost exclusively from mobile devices in the field, then you’ll need mobile support as well.
Many business texting platforms are desktop-oriented, but you will want an all-in-one solution that gives you the same experience across all devices.
You’ll need to make sure that if a service does offer mobile support that you as the user have access to the same features on the mobile app as you do from the desktop and visa-versa.
Depending on the size of your business or organization, adding multiple users to your account might be important. Good text messaging platforms allow you to add multiple users at various permission levels.
You may want to keep certain employees or users from seeing sensitive customer information. If it’s just you sending messages, then there's no need for this.
But if you have a team, think again. Having multiple users seeing conversations can also ensure that all text messages get a timely response.
Many text messaging platforms only allow you to text from 5 or 6 digit short codes. These aren’t bad but they only allow you to send one-way text messages. Contacts and customers can't respond.
This makes short codes great for large-scale, massive, text marketing campaigns, but...
When it comes to true customer engagement you’ll want a messaging platform that lets you text from a 10-digit phone number.
Texting customers from a 10-digit phone number lets them know that the message they’re reading just came from a real person that they can respond to.
Businesses and organizations that send texts from local 10-digit numbers almost always get better responses. Their numbers are recognizable with local area codes, making them more reputable.
If you’re a small business, no doubt you started out with a landline or even a personal cell phone number. This becomes a bit of a problem if you start texting customers from a different number.
What you need in this situation is a texting app that allows you to either forward calls to an existing number, or text enable your existing landline.
With call forwarding, when someone calls your text-enabled phone number, that call gets routed to an existing voice-enabled phone number of your choosing.
Call forwarding is typically an easier and more cost-effective solution than text enabling a landline. Other text messaging apps let you text enable your current number or integrate VOIP and voice-to-text features. Keep in mind, these features often come at a premium.
Saving the text messages that you send frequently is a time-saving power move. This is an advanced feature that not all texting apps offer.
Instead of having to type the same message over and over again, you can save the text as templated message. This feature works great for canned messages and quick responses to frequently asked questions.
Text message templates also make your messaging more consistent. Especially if you have multiple people texting contacts and customers.
Organizing your customers and contacts into lists is essential. This is especially true when you want to send a text to a bunch of people.
Good texting platforms allow you to create all kinds of lists based on various custom fields.
As an example, you'd want this feature to create a group of all customers late on their payments, or if you wanted to create a group of customers who have birthdays in January.
Suggested Article: The Guide to Selecting a Group Text App
You'll want to think about the person on the other end of the message when you start sending texts in bulk.
Imagine a deluge of inbound text messages coming into your phone. With a normal text messaging app they’d all be contained in a single group message.
The best messaging platforms will archive, sort, and order all of your inbound text messages. This keeps individual customer conversations separate and well-ordered.
Suggested Article: How to Send A Group Text Without Reply All
The best business text messaging apps all allow you to schedule text messages. However, this functionality can range vastly between different messaging apps.
Some apps only give you select date/time intervals to schedule messages. You’ll also need a platform that allows you to exactly set the date and time delivery of a text message relative to your contact's or customer's timezone.
Suggested Article: Guide to Automated Text Messages
Opt-in and opt-out or TCPA compliance is important and often overlooked. This is especially true when it comes to SMS marketing campaigns. You’ll want to know about the Telephone and Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA) regulations.
Text messaging is regulated. This means your business or organization needs to get the right level of consent from contacts and customers before you text them.
If your organization is interested in text message marketing and sending promotional SMS messages then you'll also have to think about consent for marketing purposes.
For all promotional messages, you’ll need “express written consent” before you text.
Additionally, the best text messaging apps will help you handle opt-out with automatic do-not-contact lists.
This feature keeps a dynamic list of customers who have opted in and out. It saves you from texting customers who have already said they don’t want to receive a message.
Suggested Article: The Ultimate TCPA Compliance Checklist and Guide
Depending on your needs integrations may be important. We live in an age where many small business systems can talk to each other.
However, not all apps or platforms have native integrations that can support this.
Some text messaging solutions use third-party services to pass data back-and-forth. Apps and platforms with native integrations typically work better in terms of functionality and storing data. They’re also typically easier to use.
If your business or organization uses QuickBooks Online, for instance, you may want a business text message app that integrates natively.
For others, having a Facebook Messenger or Slack integration might be important. Regardless, check out the ways an app integrates before you deploy it.
Customer service and support are important when evaluating any product. When it comes to text messaging platforms this consideration is two-fold.
First, does the text messaging app allow you to perform customer service for your customers? For this, you need real-time conversations.
54% of businesses already use text messaging to perform customer support. The reason? Immediate response times. The faster you can resolve a problem, the better.
Additionally, customer service features work well for happy customers too. If you have happy customers, chances are good that they would leave your business a glowing review through Google Reviews, Yelp, or any other review platform.
This is where a business text messaging app comes into play. Collecting reviews doesn’t have to be hard. All you need to do is make sure your text messaging app supports sending links.
If you can send your customer a link in a text message to review your business chances are good they’ll actually complete. Some text messaging platforms will include link shorteners as well.
Suggested Article: The Ultimate Guide to Google Reviews (2020)
Ready to start texting your customers? MessageDesk is here to help with smarter, simpler business text messaging for keeping connected.
You’ll also want to check out our list of free SMS text message templates. Just copy and paste to start texting.
Finally, feel free to start a 7-day free MesageDesk trial with 50 free text messages..