Top 8 SMS Marketing Automation Platforms in 2024
You're more likely to open promotional texts than promotional emails – and so are your customers. Check out our expert sms marketing automation tips.
Updated November 29, 2023.
It's 5 p.m. You're about to close your laptop for the day, but you decide to check your email one more time. You scroll through your inbox and – what do we have here?! You've received a coupon code for the pair of shoes you've been eyeing.
Finally! They're on sale! You get excited, pull out your credit card, click the subject line, and... the offer ended three hours ago.
If only you knew...!
As a business owner or marketer, you know how effective eCommerce email marketing campaigns can be. But you also know it may not always be the best for time-sensitive offers. People don't check their emails for flash sales when they're busy.
Building a solid SMS program and sending time-sensitive messages in bulk is not an alternative to email marketing per se – but it can sure be a great complement. When you want people to actually see your offers, send personalized messages that feel like a friendly conversation, or nudge your mobile audience to make a quick purchase, a cloud-based text messaging solution with automation features can be a game changer.
Why send messages in bulk? How to make the most out of SMS marketing automation? How to choose a text marketing tool that supports your SMS program?
Keep reading and find out more.
What is SMS marketing automation?
SMS marketing automation uses specialized SMS marketing tools to help you personalize messages you send to customers, respond faster, win more business, and retain more customers. SMS marketing software is easy to test and run, cost-effective, and an overall great way to automate your communications.
How can SMS marketing automation benefit your business?
In 2022, 55% of businesses sent SMS messages to their customers, showing a sustained interest in using text messages as a marketing channel. And it makes sense – automating your business text messaging campaigns comes with a long list of benefits.
With automation, your marketing team is freed from the labor-intensive task of sending SMS messages manually. This allows them to focus on creative tasks and strategic matters, rather than wasting time clicking "send" for each SMS subscriber.
Grow your audience efficiently
Automated systems effectively manage contact lists. They can automatically segment and organize new leads, ensuring you reach the right audience with the right message. Plus, manually sending SMS messages to an ever-increasing list of contacts is not scalable. Sooner or later, your team's time will cost more than any SMS marketing software.
Generate leads faster
Triggered messages are particularly effective at capturing leads when potential customers express interest in your products or services. This swift response can significantly boost conversion rates.
Automation reduces the need for extensive manpower. As a result, your marketing efforts become more cost-effective, making SMS marketing automation accessible to businesses of all sizes.
Successfully Nurture leads
Automated follow-ups and alerts keep leads engaged. This ongoing interaction nurtures leads and builds trust and credibility, both of which are essential for conversions. SMS messages also happen to feel more personal, as they encourage conversations with customers on a very direct communication channel. Where marketing emails can feel detached (and easy to forget), a text message to your phone feels like a one-to-one conversation.
Enhance customer experience
Personalization is at the heart of SMS marketing automation. By sending tailored messages like anniversary greetings, VIP sales notifications, or exclusive birthday discounts, you can elevate the customer experience and foster customer loyalty and repeat business.
Improved customer retention
SMS automation isn't limited to acquiring new customers. In fact, it feeds into the entire customer journey, playing a huge role in conversion and retention. Automated messages can re-engage past customers, encourage them to make additional purchases, and even request feedback, making them feel valued.
Personalization and targeting
Automation allows for precise targeting and personalization based on customer behavior, preferences, and demographics. This tailored approach maximizes engagement and conversion rates.
Integrating SMS into your overall marketing strategy creates a cohesive customer experience. Consistency across channels helps reinforce your brand and message, increasing trust and recognition. It also creates more personalized experiences, as it meets your audience where they are, instead of waiting for them to come to you on a single platform.
Get real-time data
Access to real-time data provides valuable insights into campaign performance – exactly what message automation provides. You can use all this data to make informed decisions, quickly adjust your strategies, and seize opportunities as they arise.
Instant communication and high engagement rates
SMS is renowned for its high open rates and instant delivery. According to Gartner, open rates on SMS messages are as high as 98%, while response rates can reach a staggering 45%. This is exponentially higher than email open and response rates (20%, respectively 6%). When you need to convey time-sensitive information or promotions, SMS ensures your messages are seen and acted upon promptly.
That is precisely how loyal customers happen: when you constantly go the extra mile to provide the best, fastest, and most personalized customer experience, customer engagement goes up. This allows you to build real relationships with your customer base.
Easy integration with other tools
SMS marketing platforms often seamlessly integrate with other marketing tools, such as email marketing platforms or customer relationship management systems. This integration enhances your overall marketing efforts, creating a holistic customer journey. It also saves your team a lot of time and leaves less room for human error when transferring data from one platform to the other.
How to use SMS automation for marketing
SMS marketing software can be extremely versatile for businesses that want to make the most out of their marketing list.
Running promotional campaigns via text messaging can be extremely profitable, particularly for eCommerce businesses running email marketing campaigns that aim to integrate SMS messaging as a complementary channel.
You can use SMS automation to send sales promotions on special occasions (such as a Father's Day email, or anniversary promotions), notify customers of new product releases, and share exclusive discounts and offers. These campaigns should be tailored to each customer segment for maximum impact.
Follow-ups and alerts
Shipping notifications, order updates, and other types of follow-ups can be automated easily. Automated alerts also help you reach out to leads and customers at the right time. For example, you could send reminders with helpful tips when they've been inactive for a while or inform them about upcoming events.
SMS marketing automation tools can help your customer support team stay on top of requests and keep customers in the loop on their requests. Automated response messages can be used to notify customers that their inquiries have been received and are being processed. Automated customer support messages make customers feel valued and taken care of by creating a sense of immediacy and personalization.
No matter what type of business you run, obtaining feedback from customers is better than striking gold. SMS campaigns tend to be more engaging; thus, getting customers to respond and provide valuable feedback can be easier.
Automated messages make customer engagement and re-engagement easier, as they help you remind them of your brand and inspire them to take action. For example, you could use SMS for cart abandonment or browser abandonment campaigns.
These types of campaigns can be automated to send messages at the appropriate time, such as a few hours after a customer has left your site or left items in their shopping cart. The message could provide an incentive to complete the purchase with a coupon code or other offer.
Booking confirmations and appointment reminders
SMS automation is great for sending appointment confirmations, payment or delivery notifications, and other information that customers need. For instance, when you integrate your automated messaging with an appointment scheduling tool, you can make it easier to manage customer expectations and help alleviate the workload of customer service teams.
Want to keep your audience engaged from the get-go? Sending personal welcome messages is a great way to make them feel like part of your community from the beginning. Welcome messages can be automated and personalized based on customer preferences or other criteria, making it easy to send tailored welcome messages that are sure to leave a positive impression.
How to choose an SMS marketing app
Many SMS marketing services allow bulk text messaging, but if you want your automatic text message campaigns to be actually effective, you have to look for something with fairly advanced features:
Easy to use
You can't waste time onboarding your marketing and customer care teams into software that's complicated and difficult to use. SMS campaign management needs to be as smooth as possible. The app should be intuitive and user-friendly so that your team can get up and running quickly.
Obviously, you need the app to be able to automate SMS campaigns so that they are sent out on time and according to customer segment. The best automation features should also allow for easy personalization, such as inserting customer names into messages and tailoring messages based on individual preferences.
Segmentation options help you personalize your messages, creating tailored campaigns for each customer segment. Advanced segmentation features, like behavioral segmentation and demographic segmentation, allow you to create hyper-personalized messages based on a range of criteria. This allows you to personalize your campaigns and build relationships with your SMS subscribers.
Enables conversational messaging
The best texting apps should offer the possibility to create automated 2-way texting (or conversational messaging), enabling customers to interact with your business without dialing a number. While many businesses don't use it, two-way texting promotes an open relationship with your customers, which leads to more engagement, successful loyalty programs, and even brand advocacy.
Offers flexible integration options
Integration with apps is important for SMS tools because it allows you to connect your SMS campaign management with your CRM, email marketing software, and other tools. That way, you can maintain a holistic view of your customers and create campaigns that are more effective.
If your SMS app doesn't offer direct integrations, make sure it does, at least, offer some automation via integration (such as through Zapier).
Affordable for growing businesses
The right SMS marketing provider should understand the needs of growing businesses and offer plans tailored to their budgets. Look for a provider that offers transparent pricing, so you can decide which plan is best for your business without any surprises down the line.
Can be scaled when needed
You want to know your chosen SMS marketing platform can scale as you grow, and that you won't have to change it if you reach a certain number of customers. Make sure the app can accommodate any increase in traffic without affecting its performance or reliability.
MMS (multimedia messaging service) involves sending multimedia messages in addition to text. This is perfect for businesses that want to go beyond simple SMS campaigns and incorporate visuals such as images, audio clips, and videos into their automated marketing messages.
Complies with all regulations
When it comes to marketing via SMS (or using contacts with phone numbers or other personal details to build marketing campaigns), compliance is absolutely essential. Make sure you choose an app that complies with all relevant regulations, such as GDPR, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), and the CAN-SPAM Act.
SMS drip campaigns
Drip campaigns allow you to send a series of messages over time, which is particularly useful when it comes to onboarding new customers. Look for an app that allows you to create automated drip campaigns and customize them based on customer segment or user behavior.
Analytics are essential for understanding what works and what needs improving in your SMS marketing campaigns. Make sure the app you choose provides comprehensive reporting and insightful analytics so that you can track your message performance and get better results over time.
If something goes wrong or if you have questions, it's nice to know that reliable customer support is just a phone call away. Make sure the app provider offers reliable support, so you can find quick answers to all of your questions.
Last, but definitely not least, you want to ensure your SMS marketing app is secure and customer data is stored safely. Look for an app with encryption protocols to ensure that all customer data is securely stored and protected from potential bad actors.
BONUS features: message templates and other functionalities
While this may not be available for all SMS tools, a template library can be a nice-to-have when you need text message templates you can customize and send. This can be a major time-saver, much in the way email templates save time for email marketers, for example.
Also, if you want to use your SMS marketing software to nurture your prospective or existing customer base on other digital channels as well, consider additional features, such as text-to-voice (for outbound calling), WhatsApp messages, or push notifications. The more useful features you have on a single platform, the more you'll be able to build an automation strategy that makes the most of your contact base and fuels revenue into your business.
Top 8 SMS marketing software options in 2024
Some of the most well-known message marketing software solutions include:
SimpleTexting is popular due to its user-friendly interface and robust features. It simplifies SMS programs for businesses of all sizes and makes it easier to create automated text message campaigns, segment customers based on behavior and demographics, and track performance indicators.
If you are looking for an SMS marketing solution that is very easy to use, can scale as your business (and list of phone number contacts) grows, allows you to send bulk text messages, and run more advanced text-to-vote campaigns, SimpleTexting is a great option. It also comes with an AI Assist feature, which helps you craft personalized communications quickly and easily.
SimpleTexting has different SMS pricing packages, based on how many messages you want to send every month. For instance, if you want to send 500 messages, your pricing package will be $29/month. If you want to send 7,500 messages, it will be $229/month. Extra costs are charged according to your pricing plan. For instance, on the 500-message plan, extra messages will cost 5 cents, while on the 7,500 SMS package, extra messages will be 3.5 cents.
EZ Texting stands out in the SMS marketing software realm due to its scalability, easy integration, and wide array of features. It accommodates businesses of all sizes, growing alongside them as their marketing needs evolve and expand. Its intuitive interface makes it straightforward to schedule and automate SMS campaigns.
Apart from these features, what sets EZ Texting apart is its advanced features, like its segmentation capabilities, text message drip campaign building, 2-way messaging, and a range of options when it comes to textable number/SMS code options (toll-free, ten-digit local number, dedicated short code, and high-volume numbers).
Furthermore, EZ Texting also comes with reporting and analytics, which can help you measure success and tweak your campaigns for better performance.
The basic plan for EZ Texting starts at $20/ month, with a cost per message of $0.027 and a limit of 500 messages per day. The highest pricing tier allows you to send up to 50,000 messages/day, at $0.018/ message, and the plan starts at $100/ month. They also have a custom enterprise plan for very high volumes, but you will have to contact their team to discuss this.
Twilio is an all-in-one text messaging tool that provides powerful SMS capabilities. It's particularly suitable for businesses with complex communication needs. One of the features that makes Twilio different than the other solutions is that it offers video and voice solutions as well.
Twilio can also be used for two-factor authentication, which is a great way to ensure customer data security while also providing a personalized experience.
The platform also offers robust reporting and analytics features, making it easy to track business text messaging campaign performance and measure the success of your text messages. Plus, its user-friendly interface makes it easier to manage your campaigns.
Twilio works on a pay-as-you-go pricing scheme, with most SMS messages priced at $0.079/message and MMS messages priced at $0.100/message. The costs may vary, depending on where you're sending and receiving the message from and what type of phone number you have.
ClickSend is popular for its MMS capabilities and strong security measures. It's a reliable option for businesses that prioritize multimedia messaging and data protection. Furthermore, ClickSend also enables businesses to make text-to-voice phone calls, send messages on other effective communication channels (like WhatsApp), and even send transactional emails (like post-purchase emails, for example.)
For their SMS tool, ClickSend will also work on a pay-as-you-go model. Inbound messages are always free, and outbound messages are priced according to how many messages you're sending and where you are located. For example, if you are sending under 5,000 texts in the United States, you will pay €0.0209 per message, but if you are sending more than 150,000 texts, you'll pay €0.0074 per SMS.
Klaviyo is an all-in-one platform that includes SMS automation, making it a valuable choice for businesses looking for comprehensive marketing solutions. What sets Klaviyo apart from other similar software options is that it is, in fact, an omnichannel marketing solution that includes email management as well.
Klaviyo excels with its built-in eCommerce integrations, allowing you to build advanced automation workflows, send messages, and create email campaigns that are highly personalized and effective. This tool allows you to segment your audience based on customer behavior and preferences, ensuring your messages are sent to the right people at the right time. Its analytics features help you measure performance indicators and see how different segments respond to each campaign.
Pricing plans for this SMS tool are based on the number of contacts in your list and the number of messages you want to send. Thus, Klaviyo's initial plan for email and SMS starts at $60/month for up to 1,500 contacts and 1,250 credits for messages. Each type of message and location uses a different number of credits (e.g., one SMS in the US is 1 credit, one MMS in the US is 3 credits, and one SMS in the United Kingdom is 5 credits).
The best part about this pricing scheme is that it is quite easy to scale once you move past the basic plan needs, as you can adjust both the number of contacts and the number of credits in close increments, to make sure you pay for what you actually need.
TextMagic is one of the oldest cloud-based text messaging solutions for businesses. It's been around since 2001! This tool offers email-to-text, 2-way texting, scheduled messages, MMS, compliance features (like SMS opt-out management), phone number segmentation, and virtual phone number options.
Remember that TextMagic is available in a wide range of locations, but not necessarily worldwide, so check and see if your destination country's phone numbers are supported.
TextMagic works on a pay-as-you-go model, with one SMS to a phone number in the United States priced at $0.049 and one MMS to a US phone number priced at $0.08. The costs differ according to the location of the contacts. For example, one SMS to Spain is $0.118, while one SMS to Norway is $0.093.
Omnisend excels as a multi-channel marketing automation platform, offering robust email, SMS, and web push notification capabilities. It underpins the success of modern marketing strategies by seamlessly integrating various communication channels, helping businesses reach their audiences effectively.
Furthermore, Omnisend is renowned for offering one of the most competitive pricing options for SMS messages on the market, making it an affordable choice for businesses aiming for high ROI from their marketing efforts. Omnisend offers reasonable pricing for a versatile, and efficient solution for your marketing needs.
Omnisend has two pricing plans for email marketing services and one pricing package that includes email and SMS. Depending on how many contacts you have in your list, the SMS + email plan will cost between $59/month and $1,650/month. Each pricing bracket comes with its own number of text messages you can send. Thus, for the $59/month plan, you can have up to 250 contacts and send up to 3,933 SMS/month. However, for $90/ month, you can have 4,500-5,000 contacts and send up to 6,000 SMS/month.
Provides a comprehensive suite of communication tools, including SMS automation, to enhance customer interactions and reputation management. In addition to automated SMS sending, Podium also offers website chat features your customer support reps can use to respond to customers quickly and efficiently. Also, Podium comes with payment solutions and phone call features, which can be useful for certain businesses. platforms
Podium comes in three pre-set pricing packages, at $289, $449, and $649/ month. The lowest pricing tier will only allow you up to 1,000 contacts. The middle-tiered plan will allow unlimited contacts and it will come with advanced segmentation. And the highest-priced package will come with automatic lead nurturing and an AI chatbot. All plans come with free 14-day trials to allow you to test the product before you commit.
SMS marketing automation best practices
To make the most of SMS marketing automation, follow these best practices:
Tailor messages to individual preferences and behaviors, making customers feel valued and understood. Incorporate their names, past purchase history, or location to enhance personalization.
Spread the word about campaigns
Promote your SMS campaigns through multiple channels, including email, social media, and your website, to maximize reach. Encourage subscribers to share your flash sales with friends and family.
Use the scheduling features
Timing is crucial in SMS marketing. Use scheduling features to send messages at optimal times for your target audience. Consider time zones and the nature of your message to determine the ideal sending time.
Analyze the results
Continuously monitor and analyze campaign data to optimize performance. Use metrics like open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, and ROI to refine your SMS marketing strategy. Adjust your content, timing, and targeting based on what the data reveals.
Keep regulation in mind
SMS campaign management should always include compliance with local and international laws. Ensure that you only send messages to people who have consented, and provide an easy way to opt out of your campaigns. Not only will this help you stay on the legal side of things, but it w
ill also help you be more transparent (and thus, more trustworthy) with your audience.
SMS marketing: a (yet) untapped potential
Sure, you don't want to be invasive with endless push notifications on mobile and waves of annoying text messages, but you can use this channel to send well-timed dynamic discount codes, promote your loyalty programs, or enable two-way texting when you need feedback from your customers.
People are far more likely to open an SMS message than an email. If you base your SMS marketing on respect for personal boundaries, human psychology, data analysis, and automation technology, you can unlock an untapped potential in your mobile audience.
It's more than worth a try, right?
Looking for someone to help you with your SMS marketing? Hire a Mayple-vetted email marketing agency and work with experts who know your industry, your audience, and how to make them click!