13 SMS Text Messaging Services for Marketing in the Mobile Age

13 SMS Text Messaging Services for Marketing in the Mobile Age

Ninety nine percent of the time statistics can drive you to heavy drinking. In researching this post on SMS or Text Message Marketing, I wanted to find out how many people use text messaging, how quickly they are read, and are business owners using it as a way to reach customers.

More than any other topic that I’ve written about recently, the data is all over the place:

  • Text Messages have a 98 percent read rate
  • Text Messages have a 100 percent open rate
  • Texts are typically read within 15 minutes of being received
  • Mobile phones have reached 100 percent penetration in the United States

Let’s go with something more trustworthy: Do you know very many adults without a mobile phone? How about business owners without one? Have you had a customer without a cell phone? Here’s the leap, but I have pretty good evidence it is true: If they have one, they likely use text messaging on it, too.

Text message marketing is a permission-based approach to sharing short updates or specials with your customers. It lends itself to point of sale or retail offers, but not entirely. My gut or intuition tells me that it’s a good way to share news, updates, ideas, and special offers with customers with whom you have a relationship and who express interest in signing up.

Here are services that can make it easy and affordable; some are completely free if you keep your efforts small and focused:

TXT180 offers 500 messages for $19.95/monthly or $14.95/annually. Other plans are available for other volumes of messages. Includes “text 2 win,” text 2 vote,” “birthday messages,” many other features, and reports. They offer a 15-day free trial that includes 100 messages.

TellMyCell is useful if you want to give your customers a specific keyword to text in and receive a special offer (or any response really). You can have unlimited contacts and unlimited groups, but you pay on a per message basis. You can pay-as-you-go for five cents per message or plans start at $29/month.

Simple Texting has one of those sites that is just clear and easy to grasp and the main screen calls out to business owners. I like that. You can integrate with social media like Facebook and Twitter. Free 14-day trial, then prices start at $45/month for up to 1,000 messages.

CallFire offers a variety of telephone-based services like IVR (interactive voice response – you know those automated attendant types) and a virtual call center service. But their pay-as-you-go SMS plan is a basic flat rate of five cents per message. Or you can go for a monthly bundled package starting at $99 per month.

Mozeo is another text platform with flat message pricing – three cents per message. Unlimited contacts, unused messages roll to the next month. You pay a one-time charge for keywords (as in your customer texts in the word PIZZA to your number to get a special offer). You get 10 free text messages to trial the service.

TextMagic is a text messaging service that you don’t even need a phone to use. You can forward your emails to this SMS service, too. You buy credits in 100 pack increments starting at $4 (4 cents per text message). I discovered this UK-based service via a terrific post at the Content Marketing Institute: Why SMS is a Must for a Younger Audience.

Betwext is one of the few text message marketing companies that had unlimited keywords (which could be important if you intend to do a lot of different campaigns) and a low rate of only two cents per message. Monthly plans start at $9 per month for 3 keywords or $19/month for unlimited keywords.

Trumpia sells texts in packaged units (i.e. 10,000 or 25,000) and they don’t expire. You can use them in your text message marketing in a variety of ways, from appointment reminders to event coordination to standard marketing messages. Plans start at $142/month – provided you prepay for 2 years. The lowest monthly plan is $285/month.

Groovv Offers is a text, email and social marketing solution by Total Merchant Services. Groovv Offers acquired Fanminder, one of the SMS text messaging services included on this original list. Groovv does not make pricing public on its website.

Editor’s note: Since this original article was published, the following five SMS text messaging services no longer appear to be operational. We’ve left them in for historical reference purposes.

SnapGiant knows that many small businesses (including restaurants and food service businesses) use text message marketing and their page gently reflects that. You only pay for outgoing messages, not incoming, and unused messages roll over to the next month (that’s kind of cool). Plans start at $19.95/month after free 30-day trial.

Signal is pretty robust and lets you send text messages, QR codes, barcodes, and mobile optimized web pages. You can do coupons, sweepstakes, polls and plans start at $29/month with a free trial.

ReachPeople charges by the number of contacts and number of messages. They have a full free plan with up to 25 messages and 100 contacts. Paid plans start at $29/month. I like that they had a voice broadcasting option if you wanted to leave a voicemail for a group.

SMS Marketing has a one-time flat rate of $35 to setup your web-based text messaging account, then a per message fee. You get unlimited autoresponders and can schedule text message offers with ease. It even comes with one free keyword.

Notifo is another that handles notifications to the iOS platform.


If you simply want to replace your mobile phone text plan for something less expensive, these five options are worth a look:

Go SMS Android App. Free texting. Handcent is another.

JAXTR MOBILE (Formerly JaxtrSMS) is sort of like Skype but just for texting. If you text another Jaxtr user, it’s free. Otherwise a low message fee based on destination country. Makes international texting pretty easy.

Kik Messenger is texting for smartphones. Or more like texting with an instant messenger feel. Free.

Google Voice is a free voice-over-IP phone (like Skype) but offers free texting, too. You can send to up to five people at one time.

GroupMe is part of Skype and is a novel way to text a group of people. Totally free. Might not work in a business situation with a group of customers, but might be good for internal teams.

If you just want to be able to get Twitter or Facebook updates on a mobile device, but not cell phone type text messages, then Boxcar for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad is a notification app that allows you to get updates from many different web services (Curdbee, FourSquare, GitHub, Google Voice, just to name a few more). Free for the iOS world. Android and PC versions coming.

If you’ve been contemplating how to offer your customers a way to get special marketing offers, via cell phone, then one of these text messaging solutions will help.

Like all services we review, I try to pick ones with transparent, affordable pricing and that make it easy for a busy small business owner to figure out. Let us know what services you’ve been using in the comments below.

For additional reading, please visit:

14 Android Texting Apps That Should Be On Your Smartphone
11 Best Practice Tips for Professional Text Messaging
How to Create the Perfect Marketing Text Message

Text Photo via Shutterstock


TJ McCue TJ McCue served as Technology/Product Review Editor for Small Business Trends for many years and now contributes on 3D technologies. He is currently traveling the USA on the 3DRV roadtrip and writes at the Refine Digital blog.

83 Reactions
  1. It’s my first time to read about Mozeo. Is it good? What do you think?

    • This is a great list. I think geotargeted apps are great as well (Foursquare, Whatspp or Yelp). They’re not quite SMS, but they definitely cater to mobile audiences.

  2. Thanks for including Signal in your list! We offer an unlimited frees trial with 100 messages per month, so no risk in checking it out. We’re rolling out a bunch stuff over the next few weeks that people are going to pretty excited about.

  3. This is a great list. I think geotargeted apps are great as well (Foursquare, Whatspp or Yelp). They’re not quite SMS, but they definitely cater to mobile audiences.

  4. I second the warning about making sure you are using text messaging services approved and certified by the mobile carriers. Service providers operating on a 5 or 6 digit short code are the only ones permitted to send A2P messaging traffic on the mobile carrier networks.

    I’m happy to explain the ins and outs to anyone who is considering text messaging and isn’t sure what the difference is between certified and not permitted.

    • I’d like to learn more about permitted verses not permitted texts. So, are you saying http://www.betwext.com sends texts that aren’t permitted? Looks like they aren’t using a short code. What happens if you don’t use a “permitted” system?

      • Ryan,

        Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe what you are referring to is also called “unsolicited” text messages. If you are using text messaging for sales and marketing, you will want to make sure that you are sending SMS messages to people who want to receive them. There are many lawsuits which have been settled as well as are on going which are because of unsolicited text messages.

        Most often, whichever provider you choose will offer a mechanism for handling opt-ins and opt-outs. This way you are sending text messages to those who have expressly said they want to (by opting in) and you will no longer send text messages to anyone who as opted out.

      • This may be a little late to jump in, but I thought I might add a little more clarification to Ryan’s question for those who may find compliance a scary thing.

        As long as the company you use follows these guidelines who shouldn’t have anything to worry about:

        1. Your subscribers have provided express consent to receive your messages (i.e. they text in a “keyword” to “x-number” requesting to be part of some kind of program. often times to receive special deals.)

        2. As part of the opt-in process there should be a brief description of the program they want to be apart of, including a reminder that message and data rates may apply, the terms, privacy policies, etc. (i.e. “Message and data rates may apply. Text STOP to 91011 to cancel. Text HELP to 91011 for help. T&C: http://www.url-to-your-program-description-and-terms.com”)

        3. Be sure that you only send messages from the program opted into. (i.e. someone who opts-in to get weekly lunch deals shouldn’t start receiving daily promotions about special deals on sporting goods.)

        4. For opt-in methods outside of texting (i.e. web forms, taking down numbers at a convention, etc.) you need to use a double opt-in method. this usually means that the first text you send will have the basic program description letting the person have another chance to say no.

        5. You should clearly provide methods for opt-out (i.e. STOP, HELP, etc.) and they need communicated during the opt-in process as mentioned above.

        6. Make sure to honor all opt-out requests in a very timely manner. (i.e someone replies “STOP” they should be opted-out in no more than a day or two.)

        Hope that helps. As a side note, txtwire would be a great option to add to this list! 🙂

    • Noel,

      Can you elaborate on the your suggestion to use services certified with mobile carriers.

      And Seth,

      you supported his claims implying long codes SMTP are somehow either illegal or inappropriate versus SMPP.

      What is the reasoning behind the comments?

      • Sure.

        Only providers using 5 or 6 digit short codes are technically certified by the mobile carriers. When you step outside of mobile marketing, there are some other routes, but if you’re looking to manage a list of opted in subscribers in the multiple hundreds or thousands, short codes are technically how you are supposed to go about this.

        I keep using the word “technically” because I believe in people doing whatever they feel is right and don’t want to get flamed by a mobile marketing company using long codes/virtual numbers, but they are supposed to be strictly for person to person messaging, not mass texting. It’s still the wild wild west out there, I’m just sharing the information I’ve heard (including an email directly from the President of the CTIA).

        SMTP = Email to SMS (sending emails to 4155551212@vtext.com for example)
        IMO, probably the worst way to do mobile marketing, the carriers watch this traffic closely because it is way too easy for spammers to set up and I’ve heard you’ll get blocked extremely fast.

        Long Codes/Virtual Texting Numbers
        Not nearly as strong as short codes because you’re still playing cat and mouse with mobile carrier spam filters (again, these are supposed to be for person to person. At any significant volumes these virtual numbers will get blocked. More people are having problems with Google Voice because they have internal filters (sending of the same message over and over for example to multiple numbers) so as to not set off carrier spam filters and get the GV number blocked.

        My company isn’t in mobile marketing (we focus on other uses/industries), so I’m not competitive with any of the companies listed (although quite shocked this list doesn’t include Tatango http://www.tatango.com as they seem to be a top tier mobile marketing company in the space), but I figured I would chime back in and reply to your note, since you asked.

        Finally, I’m not here to upset anyone who may be doing mobile marketing in any ways outside of short codes, I’m just sharing what knowledge and experience I have. Do whatever works best for you. If a company doesn’t use short codes, but they are knowledgeable about mobile marketing, go with your gut. Best of luck!

      • Sending one-to-many messages via long code or SMTP is not illegal. But that doesn’t mean you are immune to civil cases if someone is to sue you for possible spamming. If you run into a lawsuit, using something other than SMPP makes it hard to have a foot to stand on. The reason being, using a short code requires you to follow rules put in place by and audited by the CTIA. That affords you that you are at least doing what is considered best for those who you are marketing to.

        Noel is right, surprisingly, it is still the wild west in this medium of marketing and it is about how you choose to go about using the technology you are most comfortable using based on how you feel it comes across to the end recipient. After all, it is marketing and if you are trying to entice them to buy something from you, the first thing to do isn’t to make them dislike the way you are doing it.

        Regardless of the method, please make sure you use a provider that respects STOP, QUIT, END, CANCEL, UNSUBSCRIBE, or STOP ALL requests. It is just the right thing to do.

  5. Ditto on Noel’s comment about making sure that whichever SMS Marketing service you choose does use a carrier approved short code (SMPP) and not using long code (SMTP).

    The importance of SMS marketing is to provide quality messages that allow the recipient to perform an action. Whether it be “Redeem a coupon”, “An ending sale/promotion”.

    Also, when sending a offer/coupon, be sure to include an expiration so that employees aren’t having to deal with stragglers coming in to redeem. This also allows you to continue to send different offers/coupons.

    • Seth, there wasn’t a reply button under your response to my comment above, so I figured I’d reply here.

      I’m not referring to unsolicited messages. I’m referring to sending it through a carrier approved short code, not a long code. http://www.betwext.com is one of the services mentioned in the article, however, it looks like they use long codes. They are also very cheap. What trouble could I run into if I use a service that uses long codes? Are there legal implications, delivery issues, or other problems?

      • Hey Ryan,

        From a mobile marketing perspective, long codes are kosher as long as they follow the rules put in place by the wireless carriers (rolled up into one lowest common denominator standards by the MMA and administered by the CTIA).

        Short codes offer three advantages over long codes, they are (1) generally easier to use in terms of memory recall, (2) generally offer higher throughput then long codes, and (3) are generally less expensive than long codes.

        To elaborate:

        – re: #1, It’s easier to see a call-to-action (CTA) where you text a keyword to a 5-digit number vs a 10-digit number.
        – re: #2, at Signal we have a throughput of over 300 messages per second for a short code, vs where long codes are typically limited to 1 message per second
        – re: #3, at Signal, we charge a $0.01 per outbound text message, where as a long code would charge $0.0075 to $0.01 for both the inbound and outbound text message.

        Long codes (or really just regular phone numbers) are definitely great – just wanted to highlight the differences that I see between the two.


      • In the eyes of the carriers, short codes are what should be used for mass marketing/sales messages. Using a provider which uses a short code means the provider is making sure they are complying with the rules, which then means you would be complying with the rules which the CTIA (http://www.ctia.org/) has setup. Whether right or not, short codes will be given priority delivery and also be able to receive metrics regarding being sent to carrier, received at handset, etc. While it can’t say whether it was read or not, there is a comfort level to it being received.

        Using a short code does not exempt you from legal trouble, as anyone can sue whenever they want (see: http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nhl-puck-daddy/fan-sues-pittsburgh-penguins-excessive-text-message-alerts-211205341.html),however, it might set you up to have a better defense as you were following industry best practices.

        Unfortunately, there is a lot of ambiguity in the text message sales/marketing arena. As it is now, we recommend siding with the carriers and going short code.

  6. Those stats are crazy! “Text Messages have a 98 percent read rate
    Text Messages have a 100 percent open rate” I wonder how many new web-based companies incorporate SMS marketing into their strategies at all?

  7. hi Duncan, i’m not saying those stats are accurate or true (noted above). I have read them in different reports. I question their validity, too. Question everything is a great motto (and bumper sticker)! But, one thing is sure — mobile is the future. Forget all the hype and just look around, right?

  8. Duncan, TJ – What’s interesting is that there’s no evidence behind that stat. The carriers don’t provide any mechanism to measure open rate. You can calculate delivery rate and click though rate depending short URL usage. We wrote a blog post about SMS click through rates a few months ago. We’ve been spending a lot of time around this area in our platform lately.

  9. RE: TJ’s reply
    Mobile sure is the future. Hard to know the way it will go with the Apps though. We’re debating whether to make an App or do a html5 version of the web app we’ve got. We’re favoring the cheaper html5 version at first.

    Re: Jeff’s reply
    …the other thing is that I don’t know about your phones, but on the phones i’ve had before, there is no mechanism by which to delete an SMS without opening it. So you either leave it unread forever and probably miss important messages because you don’t know the number of Unread SMSs changed, or you delete it…

  10. This is a great and very comprehensive list! We at Austin Scott Mobile Marketing offer many mass SMS as well as picture mail services, but take our offerings further with voice broadcasting, mobile coupons, text to screen, Facebook and Twitter integration and more. We offer a free trial with access to all of our features and support with helping you set up your mobile campaigns.

  11. Perhaps if you ever update this list you might consider our company Text Republic. Great list though I am familiar with many of these great companies especially Signal.

  12. This is a very good list. I’d like to add a new startup to the list: PriceMob. It is in a class of its own compared with the ones mentioned above, as it has a very narrow focus: generating more customers and sales from existing customers via text messaging. They only do this one thing, and I think they are on the right track to being the ones who do it the best. Check them out here, I think they’re still in BETA. Or, they’ve just launched last week. http://pricemob.co

  13. Text message marketing has many advantages in addition to the ones listed. I think a main one missed is the ability to create same day sales. If your business missed the sales goal for the lunch period or early in the week, send out a text blast to increase sales and meet or exceed your goals for that day or week.

  14. I’d like to add Clearstream into the above list.

    We offer free SMS marketing through the shortcode 97000. Our platform is user-friendly, we integrate with Facebook & Twitter, and we utilize Bitly to track clicks on links included in any text message blasts you send.

    Trevor Gehman

  15. Great article. No matter the platform you choose make sure it fits your needs. Talk to the provider about what you are looking to accomplish, metrics to benchmark success and resources you require.

    Now for a shameless plug:

    I would add TextSprout to the list
    -No contracts,
    -Cancel anytime,
    -Training included,
    -Complete Client Resource Center
    -Optional account management
    -Text credits roll over
    -Packages to fit every budget!

  16. Thank you for including Trumpia in your list of top providers!

  17. Hello,

    Please add onepgr.com to your list of service providers. Using OnePgr, businesses can create an entire page and invite their prospects or customers to the page by sharing the link using SMS or email. The page also offers integrated audio and video conferencing. Would appreciate any feedback.

    Best regards,

  18. SMS marketing will for sure become even more “trendy” in 2015.

  19. ProTexting is huge sms marketing service, offering free trial and over 70 different apps for engaging the audience via SMS, MMS, Social channels.

  20. http://Avaamo.com is the best texting service for mobile

  21. This was a good article but sadly leaves some excellent companies out of the mix. I was especially saddened to see that our company http://www.etextco.com was not on the list as we probably have the most comprehensive platform for small businesses and at the lowest price with a $39 monthly flat rate all services included.

  22. you forgot to mention https://calltools.com I think they have the best price.

  23. Does any one know of a sms app that has a auto billing feature?? for ex, where client can sign up for a service or pay for a product via a reply sms,?

  24. Another one to check out is http://www.omnilert.com

  25. Check out http://www.MercuryFlight.com It has every method of communication all in one spot. Very convenient

  26. Another great text messaging tool is Sendtree.com. Highly profession and reliable…and reasonably priced!

  27. Hii McCue,

    you covered really an awesome list of sms text message service. I have used ReachPeople.com once and it’s really great. Thank you so much for sharing this helpful list.

    Keep sharing !!

  28. if a consumer provides their cell phone when talking with a sales person about our services, does that imply we have permission to text them going forward? Are the rules different for one-on-one texting vs. mass texting?

    • Margaret,

      The rules for consent are different when it comes to the type of message. If the message is a sales message, which I’m assuming it will be in your case, then a verbal opt-in is not enough to send a sales message. As for quantity of texting, there are no rules which limit quantity of outbound messages.

      I’d recommend going with a service which will handle opt-ins and opt-outs for your SMS campaigns.

      We talked about some of the latest TCPA changes that went into effect here: http://blog.call-em-all.com/tcpa-changes-go-live/

  29. There are a lot of companies and those listed are pretty good. I would like to add one to the list. I have researched a lot of companies and this one provides great platform that obeys all privacy laws. Check out Automated Sales Intelligence, they have an awesome software that can handle text messaging marketing to any scale and any where in the world. Also includes a great sales system that is easy to use and actually works.

  30. One thing I’ve seen in text marketing campaigns that has worked well is to tell those who are already subscribed to “come in and get a treat!” For some reason offering even a tiny lollipop can influence people to travel to your location and get higher marketing value out of on-site presence. The reward can be many things, but an “offering” can make a big difference!

    • Agreed. We find from feedback from our customers that the most successful SMS marketing strategies are a combination of permission based marketing (opt in only) and the frequency of the SMS campaigns. We advise once per month is enough for an SMS campaign as it will keep customers engaged but not overexposed. Sometimes customers tend to oversend and we see a spike in opt-outs in these cases.

  31. I would like to know which is the best company that offer bulk sms services in Africa, some companies offering sms api gateway are not ligitimate.

  32. I want to suggest another best software for Cloud Text Messaging service Leadsrain’s Text messaging service creates a simple & unique infrastructure for sending notifications, reminders, verifications & making surveys too. – See more at:

  33. Mobile phones have NOT reached 100% penetration in the United States. I still know folks how don’t own a mobile phone.

  34. Thanks for putting this together and the great thread of comments around all the different services.

    Ive used Heymarket.com and its got a lot of what people are asking here.


  35. One of the best and reliable business level text message platforms I’ve used is MercurySend.com in the US. Affordable and clear pricing, their customer service experience is A+. I used some of the services you mentioned above and they don’t compare to MercurySend

  36. We find from feedback from our customers that the most successful SMS marketing strategies are a combination of permission based marketing (opt in only) and the frequency of the SMS campaigns. We advise once per month is enough for an SMS campaign as it will keep customers engaged but not overexposed. Sometimes customers tend to oversend and we see a spike in opt-outs in these cases.

  37. Hi, sometimes I get a 500 site error when I view your site. I thought you may wish to know, regards

  38. I want to talk in favor of bulk sms advertising
    I consider the greatest advantage of advertising using the sms distribution is that it is not so persistent, I mean you receive the sms – and you can yourself decide whether read it or not, if the information in it is interesting (sales, some discounts, etc.) you will definitely take the advantage of it. It is even useful information, I honestly always glad to get some sales offer, promocode or so… If not – you just can ignore it, delete it. This way of ads is not so obstinate, in comparison with the calls…

    some people get irritated when receiving many SMS in bulk. But for me this way of getting the information is much more better that receiving cold calls, junk e-mails or so…

    I often receive the ads from taxi – and I cant say it’s of a great importance for me, but these sms stay in the phone and I can use it when looking for taxi at some urgent situation.

  39. I’ve been looking for a good messaging service for a while now. I’m glad you talked about a few different options for messaging services. I’m going to have to look for a few good messaging options and see what I can find!

  40. Eztexting.com is my favorite!

  41. I have just read your blog.Really great and helpful to all.Thanks for the sharing.

  42. You can also add SandeshLive to the list. Get secure and reliable Bulk SMS services with SandeshLive API and Fastest bulk SMS Gateway and ensure the highest productivity and success in your businesses. And assure bulk SMS platform offering bulk SMS services across different bulk SMS gateways through its smart & robust API interface helping Enterprise communications.
    Click here for more info: https://sandeshlive.com/bulk-sms-bangalore/

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  46. I’d like to add Text In Church into the above list.
    We’re the leading provider of text messaging for churches, serving 17,476+ leaders, and helping them to engage their communities more effectively

  47. Your post is very professional and engaging. Just keep promoting!

  48. bantertext is one of the best texting platforms which I am using since the year .. Hope I will continue my journey with bantertext for more and more years …
    Thank you…