Guide: Top SMS Marketing Services & Mass Text Apps in 2022
Kyle Kuczynski
Kyle Kuczynski
MessageDesk Co-Founder & CMO
Updated: Jan 26, 2022
SMS Marketing Services

How to Choose the Best SMS Marketing Service or Mass Text App for Businesses and Organizations

SMS text message marketing is all about reaching the right people at the right time with the right message.

There’s no question that text message marketing works. But when it comes to selecting the right SMS marketing services, you’ve got a lot of choices (including MessageDesk).

So I’ve put together a list of 7 questions to ask before choosing a text marketing app or mass texting software.

And I’ve also included a list of the top 8 text marketing services and mass text apps.

By the end, you should have a clear idea of what to look for and which services will suit your marketing needs.

Read on for more.

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7 Questions to Ask Before Choosing an SMS Marketing Service or Mass Text App

Before you choose a business texting service ask yourself and answer the following questions:

  1. How many messages do you need to send?
  2. What kind of number do you want to send and receive texts from?
  3. How do you acquire and manage contacts and subscribers?
  4. How much automation and integration do you need?
  5. Do you want to share images and media?
  6. Do you need to track link clicks and see campaign analytics?
  7. How will you handle opt-in and opt-out TCPA compliance?

1. How many messages do you need to send?

You might already have hundreds or thousands of contacts you want to send promotional text messages to.

So the first step in choosing the right text message marketing platform is knowing how many messages you need to send. Some text messaging platforms don’t support high-volume text messaging.

And before you start sending bulk text messages, know that promotional SMS campaigns also come with some regulations and carrier restrictions.

To send promotional text messages in high volumes, you’ll need an SMS marketing service that offers:

When it comes to volume, standard texting services can send 1-3 text messages per second to up to 25 contacts.

But to send higher-volume bulk text messages for SMS marketing you’ll need a more advanced platform. One that supports carrier-verified high-volume A2P text message campaigns.

Without this special designation, you can’t send bulk SMS at scale, and your messages may not get delivered at all.

Most mass text messaging services undergo carrier vetting and approval through services like Campaign Registry. This is what allows them to register campaigns and send bulk text marketing messages.

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With MessageDesk, all it takes to get A2P approval for mass texting is a single form submission.

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Keep in mind: many business texting services do charge additional fees for A2P texting. So you’ll need to factor it into your pricing plan and/or per text message fees to gauge cost-effectiveness.

2. What kind of number do you want to send and receive texts from?

Originally, businesses and organizations could only text from five or six-digit short code phone numbers. These were special numbers set aside for mass texting.

Shortcodes are still around and they’re great for bulk SMS. But mass texting is changing and carriers are beginning to phase out shortcodes.

The good news is that businesses and organizations have multiple options. You can text enable your existing 10-digit business landline. Or you can use a toll-free 800 number to send high volumes of text messages.

Most text marketing platforms allow you to text from multiple phone numbers. MessageDesk even supports mass texting from both 10-digit and toll-free 800 numbers.

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But what if you’re running a smaller operation? Maybe you’re using your personal cell phone to send group texts with promotional messages?

I highly suggest that you don’t use group texts for marketing messages. This is for several reasons including privacy and security.

Additionally, group texts are hard to manage. And there isn’t a way to manage opt-ins and opt-outs (more on that later).

10DLC long codes vs. shortcodes vs. toll-free SMS numbers

5 or 6-Digit Short Code Numbers 10DLC Long Code Numbers Text-Enabled Toll-Free SMS Numbers
Number Formatting 99999 or 555555 (123) 456-7890 (888) 123-4567
Per Second Message Send Rate 40-100 1-10 5-20
A2P SMS Approved
One-Way Mass Texting
Two-Way Conversational Texting 🚫
Voice-Enabled 🚫
Cost $$$$ $$ $

3. How do you acquire and manage contacts and subscribers?

Groups, lists, forms, and custom fields are all-important bulk text service features.

They’re essential for organizing customers and contacts into lists. Each helps you craft more targeted messages for the right kinds of people.

This is called segmentation in the marketing world.

The best mass text apps allow you to segment and create all kinds of lists and groups.

Many text messaging marketing platforms like MessageDesk also offer custom fields. These allow you to add specialized data fields to further customize your contact segments.

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But as you start segmenting, how can you get more people to subscribe to your marketing messages?

To get more subscribers and to generate leads from your website you’ll want to look for additional features like:

  1. Click-to-text buttons from your website
  2. Website contact forms that automatically send texts
  3. Website chatbots that collect contact info and start conversations

Click-to-text buttons, contact forms, and chatbots are all great. They give contacts and customers an easy way to connect with you from your website. This makes them fantastic lead generation tools.

Many of the best mass text apps (including MessageDesk) offer these additional features. So be sure to look for them when researching solutions.

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4. How much automation and integration do you need?

Text message automation breaks down into two main categories.

  1. Basic text message scheduling (scheduling one-time, individual, non-recurring SMS messages)
  2. Advanced text message automation (stringing together multiple recurring, scheduled text messages and autoresponders as part of a campaign)

Most mass SMS services offer basic text message scheduling. This means scheduling one text message, to one person, one time.

Looking for drip campaigns and automation? Then you’ll need a more advanced mass texting service.

So look for automation features like campaigns and autoresponders.

Additionally, integrations can help you and your team automate, save time, and scale your messaging.

For marketing, integrations with email providers like Mailchimp and ConstantContact and other marketing platforms and CRMs might be valuable.

But your needs will differ depending on your messaging needs and workflows.

For specialty workflows, many business text messaging apps integrate with Zapier. Zapier is a slick tool that allows you to set up text message automation based on triggers.

5. Do you want to share images and media?

Having the ability to text images, videos, and media (MMS messages) is particularly useful when it comes to SMS marketing.

So you’ll want an SMS marketing platform that allows you to upload, manage and share media with your customers.

You’ll also want to be able to compose your media messages and save them as templates. Text message templates work especially well for saving messages you send all the time.

Instead of having to type the same message over and over again, you can save the text as a templated message. This is an advanced feature that not all mass text apps offer.

Text message templates also make messaging more consistent. Especially if you have multiple people texting contacts and customers.

Here’s an example of a templated MMS message with a QR code advertising a deal:

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6. Do you need to track link clicks and see campaign analytics?

Once you text a marketing message to your customers, you’ll want to gauge its performance.

Analytics capabilities vary from platform to platform, but almost all come with some sort of analytics tracking capabilities.

More advanced text messaging platforms will show you metrics like:

  • Successful delivery rate
  • Failed message delivery rate
  • Non-mobile phone number recipients
  • Number of contacts opted-in/out of messaging
  • Numer of contacts unsubscribed
  • Text message link clicks

Link click tracking is particularly useful. It’s what allows you to gauge open rates, response rates, and your message’s effectiveness.

And best of all, they make it easy to calculate your ROI and revenue per text message.

7. How will you handle opt-in and opt-out TCPA compliance?

Opt-in and opt-out TCPA compliance is important and often overlooked. This is especially true when it comes to SMS marketing campaigns.

Text messaging is a regulated form of communication per the Telephone and Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA). This means your business or organization needs to get the right level of consent for promotional messages before you text customers.

Don’t worry if this sounds complicated. Many mass text messaging apps like MessageDesk will automatically handle opt-in and opt-out compliance for you.

When a contact texts STOP, they automatically go in a do-not-contact list. Everything gets automated for you in the background.

messagedesk-opt-out-message.png
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Top 8 SMS Marketing Services, Platforms & Mass Text Apps (In No Particular Order)

  1. MessageDesk
  2. SimpleTexting
  3. EZTexting
  4. Textedly
  5. SlickText
  6. Postscript
  7. TextMagic
  8. ClickSend

1. MessageDesk

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Best for:

Local service-based businesses and organizations that need a shared team inbox to conversationally engage with their contacts, customers, and clients.

Overview:

Of course, I have to mention MessageDesk as part of my best-of list. How can I not? I am a co-founder after all. 🤷

MessageDesk is the best texting app for businesses with teams. It works great for texting one-on-one and broadcasting to large groups from a 10-digit phone number or 800 number. You can also connect your existing business phone number or text enable your landline.

MessageDesk is a great tool for businesses and organizations looking to create conversational experiences with their customers. It's well suited for text message marketing. It also works great for customer support and service, appointment reminders, review and feedback collection, and payments.

After a free trial, starting costs are $14 per month for one user. We also offer custom pricing for larger teams.

Features:

  • Scheduled and automated text messages
  • Templates and MMS messages
  • Group texts and broadcasts without reply all
  • Call forwarding and voicemails to any number
  • Desktop, tablet, and mobile apps
  • Supports high-volume A2P carrier verified messaging
  • Built-in opt-in and opt-out tools for TCPA compliance

Pros:

  • Highly functional shared team-inbox
  • Affordable starting price
  • Excellent customer service

Cons:

  • Currently, few integrations with other apps

What users say:

Contributor Image
Sylvia L.
Programmatic Account Manager
"MesageDesk is great for sending mass texts for the staff or communicating with returning clients. We have sent promotional deals to our returning clients. We can also group clients if need be based on categories."
Contributor Image
Joylyn O.
Marketing Consultant
"MessageDesk is an effective texting app with excellent customer service. The templates are customizable with tagging features to personalize messages. MessageDesk also has fantastic customer service where real people answer your questions."

2. SimpleTexting

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Best for:

Larger businesses and organizations looking for a sleek way to run large-scale text message marketing campaigns.

Overview:

SimpleTexting is a great mass text messaging software. They offer a slick, polished user interface that gives you easy ways to run text message marketing campaigns.

SimpleTexting also offers texting with shortcodes for very large-scale text message blasts to thousands of contacts. With SimpleTexting you get a host of automation features and a built-out list of integrations as well.

Features:

  • Scheduling and automation
  • Campaigns and triggers
  • Autoresponders
  • Automated birthday texts
  • Feedback campaigns

Pros:

  • Clean and intuitive user interface
  • Flexible number selection (shortcodes, 10-digit and toll-free)
  • Automation and campaign triggers
  • Great customer service

Cons:

  • Not the most functional inbox for managing many 1-on-1 conversations
  • Weak mobile app experience
  • Pricing can be prohibitive for smaller organizations

What users say:

Contributor Image
Andrew S.
Associate Missions Pastor
"SimpleTexting is so easy to use. I created the account, and within a few minutes, I scheduled my first SMS reminder. The interface is simple, and that's what I was looking for in an SMS reminder product."
Contributor Image
Sam M.
Marketing Coordinator
"I do wish there wasn't a character count on the replies for our automatic messages since that's not really a "thing" anymore with iPhones and newer phones these days. I wish it would all just send as one message even if they needed to count it as multiple credits from our account."

3. EZTexting

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Best for:

Businesses and organizations that already know how to get the most out of large-scale text message marketing campaigns.

Overview:

EZTexting is a long-standing business texting platform. Like SimpleTexting, they started with shortcodes for marketing campaigns and have since evolved and expanded their text messaging capabilities.

In the time that EZTexting has been around, they’ve developed a lot of excellent features. You’re getting a lot of capability with this platform. But you also get some bloat. EZTexting can do it all, so long as you know what you’re looking to accomplish.

Features:

  • Bulk text messages
  • Add unlimited contacts
  • MMS picture messaging
  • 2-way texting and text-to-landline
  • Shortcodes
  • Personalized templates

Pros:

  • Many phone number options, including shortcodes
  • Great for text message marketing and drip campaigns
  • Robust automation features
  • Integrations with email marketing platforms and CRMs like Hubspot

Cons:

  • Poor mobile app experience
  • Needs better conversation assignment features (not a shared team inbox)
  • Character limits

What users say:

Contributor Image
Ryan B.
Programmatic Account Manager
"I had to stop using the EZ Texting App. The App functionality was very poor and did not allow the same functionality as the web. I would have liked more helpful notifications about message replies so I could respond quickly to customer needs."
Contributor Image
Luis B.
Human Resources Manager
"We have been using EZ Texting for employee communication for 2-3 years, the website is easy to use and set up. Support responds to inquiries in a timely manner. Pricing is reasonable for the amount of use we can get out of it.The organization has been able to send mass texts during shutdowns due to weather. The link shortener tool is very convenient to use when sending long website likes, and also can see how many have clicked on it."

4. Textedly

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Best for:

Businesses and organizations that need a straightforward way to market to a text list and set up automation using keywords.

Overview:

Textedly is another standard texting messaging platform that’s been around for a while. But like SimpleTexting and EZTexting, it's quite powerful.

Textedly offers standard mass texting, scheduling, and automated reply features. It's on par with what you’d expect from the other platforms on my list.

They’ve got a long track record of offering great SMS deliverability and customers comment on how good their support is.

Features:

  • Mass text messaging
  • Scheduled and automated messages
  • Keyword-based autoresponders
  • MMS picture messaging
  • Zapier integration

Pros:

  • Standard, well-built text message marketing features
  • Great user interface
  • Robust selection of pre-made text message templates

Cons:

  • Not a great way to manage conversations (not a shared team inbox)
  • Unused texts don’t roll over to the next month
  • Each feature incurs a new cost, no straight monthly fee for access to everything

What users say:

Contributor Image
Lindsay G.
Marketing Coordinator
"We use this texting service to market our courses and events, and the service is very user-friendly! Anytime I have ever needed assistance or help, the customer service team has always been very prompt with their response time. I would recommend this service to other business owners!"
Contributor Image
Kate S.
Recruiting Coordinator
"I wish I could send a message right after adding a new subscriber. I could get to the message board just after making a new user"

5. SlickText

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Best for:

Marketing agencies and large-scale eCommerce businesses who need to send marketing messages and maintain carrier promotional messaging compliance.

Overview:

SlickText is another slick tool for crafting text message marketing campaigns. They’re a great way to generate and send out coupons and for getting people to opt-in to marketing messages.

You can create keyword-focused campaigns for “text this number to receive” offers. Or you can craft longer messages and set up automated long-term drip campaigns.

Features:

  • “Text to” campaigns
  • Text surveys
  • MMS / picture messaging
  • Multiple ways to manage opt-in
  • Automated workflows, drip campaigns, and text message scheduling
  • List management features

Pros:

  • All of the standard text marketing features you’d expect
  • Great managed opt-in and promotional messaging compliance
  • Good customer support and service

Cons:

  • Pricing can get expensive
  • No message roll-over

What users say:

Contributor Image
Brooke G.
Small Business Owner
"I have tried a few text services and Slick Text far exceeds the value, ease of use & customer service of the others. Also, no contact is what got me started after having a horrible experience with another similar company & getting locked in."
Contributor Image
Daniel K.
Director of Digital Strategy
"I disliked how the roll out of switching from shortcodes to toll free was handled. We had just setup our account and started promoting our short code and then were informed we would have to switch. "

6. Postscript

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Best for:

Shopify stores that want to add SMS marketing to the communications strategy.

Overview:

Postscript is a Shopify partnered text message marketing platform. It's great for businesses built on Shopify. Specifically, those who are looking to build an SMS subscriber list, automate text marketing, and segment using Shopify data.

These guys are great at tracking revenue and ROI from campaigns and helping you to text compliantly. Because they integrate so directly with Shopify, Postscript can help you make the most of your customer base with great segmentation.

Features:

  • Automation tools
  • Segmentation features
  • Desktop and mobile popups
  • Keyword-based autoresponders
  • Landing pages and opt-in forms
  • QR codes
  • Full TCPA compliance

Pros:

  • Shopify partner with deep integration
  • Great additional tools like popups and landing pages
  • Standard text marketing features
  • Great customer support

Cons:

Shopify-centric (obviously not a con if you’re a Shopify user though)
Some users complain about the analytics dashboard and reporting features

What users say:

Contributor Image
Marianne F.
CX Manager
"It's great for customers to have a quick and easy way to reach out about promotional texts and other inquiries."
Contributor Image
Pranjali G..
Sr. Marketing Communications Strategist
"I'm not too fond that they still haven't worked on list exclusions, which means that you have to spend a few more minutes creating separate lists. Also, they need to work on better-looking analytics and reports on the platform."

7. TextMagic

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Best for:

Overview:

TextMagic is another, well-established, text message marketing software. They offer all of the standard text message marketing features you’d expect.

With TextMagic, you can send notifications, alerts, reminders, confirmations, and SMS marketing campaigns. It’s great when you need to send short and accurate messages to customers, partners, or employees.

Features:

  • Automated and scheduled text messages
  • SMS attachments and MMS
  • Email to SMS
  • Mail merge SMS and templates
  • Opt-in and opt-out and list management features

Pros:

  • Good reporting and analytics
  • Open API
  • Simple per-message pricing

Cons:

  • UI/UX is a little dated
  • Not as deeply integrated or feature-rich as other text marketing platforms

What users say:

Contributor Image
Simi T.
Billing Specialist
"I love the template option, it works well for my business, its an amazing time saver. instead of rewriting the same message a few times or copying and pasting, I have it right there in the system."
Contributor Image
Glenn R.
CIO
"When you have a large number of account with local or toll free numbers associated with the accounts, the monthly spend can creep up."

8. ClickSend

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Best for:

Businesses and organizations that need multiple “gateways” (email, voice, and text) to send messages.

Overview:

ClickSend is a unique text message marketing platform that allows you to send texts, emails, voice messages, and more. They call these “gateways” and each comes with its own features.

The SMS and MMS gateways that ClickSend offers allow you to send both promotional and transactional messages. You can also send emails, rich messages, text to voice messages, faxes, and physical postage messages.

Features:

  • SMS/MMS Gateway
  • Email Gateway
  • Rich Messaging
  • Voice Gateway
  • Fax Gateway
  • Online Post

Pros:

  • Robust API and developer documentation
  • Many ways to send a message
  • Zapier, Slack, and Salesforce integrations

Cons:

  • Some assembly required - developer and API centric
  • Not user friendly for the average marketer

What users say:

Contributor Image
Kristen C.
Small Business Co-founder
"So far I like everything! I thought I would not like using a shared number for sending the SMS's (I could have got a dedicated number but didn't) but the shared number worked great and had great responses to it as well! So I like everything!"
Contributor Image
Jim L.
PHP Web Developer
"When I initiate an SMS message through ClickSend, the message gets sent to the recipient within a few seconds, usually. I no longer wait for the cellphone provider network to eventually get around to sending my SMS messages. I am using PHP as my server process. It interfaces very easily to the ClickSend API. I use the PHP curl library to do the interfacing, which is very easy."
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