Texting software for small business allows companies like yours to communicate with your customers and foster a loyal relationship, encouraging consumers to return to your business time and time again. Whether you’re new to marketing or have had years of experience making sales and closing deals, we’re here to give you the rundown on text message marketing for small businesses. From business text messaging apps to SMS marketing pricing, here’s all you need to know to compare features and value of different apps.
For a complete understanding of text message marketing software, keep reading below. Or, if you’re looking for an answer to a specific question, use the following jump links to navigate to that section.
Why is text message marketing important for businesses?
Text message marketing software is a platform solution allowing businesses to reach their target audiences for more direct interaction through SMS communication.
Home service businesses have huge advantages for leveraging this kind of technology. It helps boost customer satisfaction while providing a fast and clear communication channel between customer and provider. Service-based businesses may have difficulty when it comes to properly communicating with customers which could hurt your business ultimately – if you don’t address it.
Timely communication is an important aspect of business that helps increase your overall transparency and customer satisfaction.
Text message marketing software will help alleviate an absence of communication and sets appropriate expectations for both your business and customers.
At every touch point with the customer, communication is key. That’s where text messaging can come in to facilitate better conversation between you, the service provider, and the customer.
Here are a few additional reasons why you should consider adding text messaging software to your suite of business tools:
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Encourages prompt action to provide the best possible service
If a customer requests a service and the company responds quickly – within a few hours, for example – chances are the company will be able to circumvent the competition. In many cases, customers call several similar companies unless they have already built a trusting relationship with one of them. Quick responses mean you’ll be able to provide a quote before everyone else, giving them time to weigh their options. This may provide your business with a distinct advantage over other companies.
Defines expectations so you can exceed them
When you understand the customer’s expectations, you’ll be able to deliver on their wants and needs. Getting a clear grasp of a project or request means you understand the scope and desired outcome – perhaps making it more likely that a customer will leave you a glowing review.
In any industry, word-of-mouth is king. Communicating quickly, thoroughly and adding great service to that combination usually helps you get referrals so you can get a constant, reliable stream of customers. With 73% of customers saying positive customer reviews made them trust a business more investing in the proper tools and using them effectively will help increase customer satisfaction and boost your business growth.
Text message marketing for small business not only creates opportunities, but levels the playing field when competing against larger companies who have deeper pockets and dedicated marketing departments.
Over 18 million text messages are sent every minute. In fact, texting is one of the most effective ways to send personal and business communications. Because of its ubiquity, text messaging is a dependable medium through which almost everyone can be reached – including your customers.
Benefits of text messaging
There are plenty of benefits that text messaging marketing software can bring to the table. For example, businesses are able to respond to customer questions in real time, eliminating any wait time that could give a potential customer the chance to contact a competitor instead or lose interest. With a timely text, the customer gets exactly what he or she needs, and the company finds out whether or not they are the best fit.
In addition, multiple conversations can occur with ease, enhancing the number of leads and service calls that can be scheduled. Instead of back and forth messages over email or playing a frustrating game of phone tag, customers can simply send images and files through text message to the company.
Plus, companies can use video messages to demonstrate how a product should be put together or even troubleshooting guidance.
On the customer side, texts are helpful keeping track of documentation and communication. Text messaging allows both the customer and business to have a record of the initial conversation, making it easier to move forward and respond to customer complaints.
Businesses can also use text messaging software to communicate with their customers on a more personal level that feels a bit more genuine than emailing. Useful customer-to-business or business-to-customer texts could include information requests, document requests, service requests, appointment scheduling, reminders for appointments or payments, notifications, alerts, and personalized promotions.
The best text messaging software for small businesses
There are a number of text messaging software programs on the market, but some stand out more than others. For small, home service businesses, the following are recommended and here’s why:
Housecall Pro Chat
Deliver five-star customer service, turn more leads into jobs, and easily share real-time updates with your team. Boost communication across your business with one easy tool—from your desk and in the field. Our chat feature is built to increase conversion and customer satisfaction while providing a professional, memorable experience from the start.
SlickText is a good SMS marketing tool for businesses that are new to this type of platform but want full support and setup assistance. Fees to use this platform vary so be sure to check what’s current. This platform also has drip marketing campaigns, birthday notifications, repeat notifications and great customer support.
There are additional features, like integrations with Zapier to work with other business tools, and the ability to have customers opt into your SMS list when checking out of Shopify and syncing to your email platform. There are a host of reporting tools, customer analysis and analytics, too.
Best Uses: If you want a simple texting app, Text Magic may be the solution for you. It’s dedicated exclusively to SMS communication, and you don’t pay a monthly fee (only the costs per text). Though Text Magic specializes in marketing SMS, there is still a pretty broad selection of services. You can manage your contacts list online and send texts from a computer. In addition, Text Magic makes it simple to:
- Send text messages from your email address
- Schedule text messages for notifications, alerts, campaigns, and more
- Use text-to-speech to send long messages quickly while your hands are busy
- Create automated replies for incoming after-hours messages
- Use the SMS sender ID tool to brand the way your sender ID appears on clients’ mobile phones
Best Uses: Skipio is a software designed for customer communication through text messaging marketing. With the tool, you can send personalized and automated text messages and engage with customers without breaking the conversation flow when you revisit. Other features include:
- Contact capture forms
- Link tracking
- Ringless voicemail
- Message library
- Appointment reminders
- Custom fields
- Grouping customers
Best Uses: Sonar is a desktop software that mainly focuses on lead engagement and conversion. Its features are more flexible and allow for more marketing engagement tests. Some feature highlights include:
- Lead qualification bot for personalized conversations
- Lead scoring
- Drip campaigns and automated text follow-ups
- Chat widgets
EZ Texting is another text software you can use to get your small business on the next level. This automated text marketing software, with pay scale options from $49 and $149, is replete with capabilities to make the most of your business.
The standout feature of this platform is a suite of marketing tools which include contests, polls and surveys. For companies that wish to evaluate different levels of consumer engagement, this is a good start to get foundational knowledge.
High-volume plans are available, supporting 5,500 to 50,000 monthly messages per month. This is great for companies looking for high-volume support.
The platform also excels at collecting valuable customer contact information, with the ability to divide up audiences based on demographics and user habits. The drip campaigns allow targeted sends based on a pre-set schedule triggered by sign-ups. There are in-depth reporting features, such as reports for opt-in and out rates, percentages of customers joining with keywords and more. It integrates with several platforms but does not have a direct integration with Zapier.
Trumpia has five packages to offer businesses at a variety of price points. The price you choose depends on what features you want and the volume of each. For example, their Enterprise packages are replete with advanced options such as campaign consulting features and unlimited keywords.
This platform grants users the ability to build detailed customer profiles to create targeted text campaigns to better grab users’ attention. Trumpia also lets users view click-through rates, voting reports, and delivery reports to indicate what has been sent and what failed.
It also integrates with Salesforce so you can automatically sync leads you obtain but unfortunately, it lacks text-to-win capabilities.
TXT180 is great for businesses that need tons of flexibility with the keywords you want to choose. The packages in this platform vary but each comes with the ability to utilize a single custom keyword. More keywords are available at a nominal cost.
Another great benefit to TXT180 is the ability to create a custom SMS plan. One unique feature of this particular platform is that it is structured around the number of messages sent. For instance, packaging can come in bundles of 500 text, 100,000 texts, or even bulk pricing for businesses needing more than 100,000 texts.
Auto-responders are another awesome feature of the software, which can be changed as needed with discount codes, updates, or additional content. The platform can also provide you with helpful message templates so you can get a blueprint for great customer communication.
For the business side, the app provides users with live support for chat, email, and phone options. In addition, the app provides you with helpful resources such as tips, tutorials, and articles.
Textedly is very simple to use for the business owner who wants a basic automation approach. If you just want to try out the platform, just like Housecall Pro, you can use it for free for 14 days before making a decision. If you decide to go with a plan, prices start at $29 and go up to $350 per month which is determined by the number of texts and keywords.
If you’re running a business on a shoestring budget, this is a great platform that still provides you with plenty of benefits. Here are a few things you can do with this platform: generate automated campaigns and send them out at certain intervals, and create auto-replies. While there are no integrations, there are basic reporting capabilities so you can monitor different aspects of your marketing campaigns.
One great aspect of this platform is that you can send up to 300-character messages to customers. This platform doesn’t include all the other bells and whistles of other platforms on this list, but works well if you’re looking to save money.
Bonus solution: Housecall Pro
Available On: Web browsers, iPhone App, Android Google Play App
Best Uses: You can forget about piecemealing your business software when you use Housecall Pro. From estimate to invoice, we have you covered on all your customer and team communication needs.
Our all-in-one solution for home service businesses is built to help you keep in touch with customers. With automated marketing texts you can let your next appointment know you’re on your way with a simple text. Automated marketing with Housecall Pro also lets you set up notification reminders about recurring service appointments for routine maintenance. Plus, you can also schedule text messages, so you won’t forget to follow up with an important client.
In addition to using Housecall Pro to schedule text messages on Android or Apple devices in advance, you can:
- Create an estimate, change, or schedule customer appointments from the same app that you’re using to text them
- Add automated email marketing to your follow-up process to engage beyond texting
- Communicate in real-time with your team and customers
- Access to seasonal postcards for direct mail communications too
Considerations for using text message marketing software
While text messaging apps can be a great resource to use to connect with customers, there are a few rules you should be aware of before diving in. It’s up to you to do your due diligence and know the laws surrounding texting and business.
The FTC has created guidelines surrounding commercial text messages. The main rule you’ll want to note is that small businesses cannot send text messages without express permission or an opt-in from a customer. Why? Text message spam is illegal. There are exceptions, of course, like direct texting, which includes sending a text to a particular customer with a service or product you’re providing. The rules also state texts can be saved forever, so pay extra attention to what you’re writing.
Additional considerations include the timing and frequency of text messages as well as the charges incurred when people utilize or opt-in to certain places.
Having an auto-reply for business is useful, however, as it is a quick and responsive way for customers to interact with the business. A platform that integrates with service dispatch software can assist you with handling numerous clients and provides a seamless experience. The advantages small businesses gain by using automated marketing software go well beyond the obvious.
Here are the key takeaways for why small businesses should consider using automated texts:
Sending out a text message marketing campaign is highly effective because consumers are likely to actually open the text. A text message is much harder to ignore than an email or a phone call.
Just check out the stats: with an almost 98% open rate, mobile marketing is a great, effective way to reach out to customers. Text message call-to-actions show more engagement than any other kind of marketing.
Get customer feedback on-the-fly
Research has suggested that over a third of customers respond to surveys via smartphone. A custom SMS number can also provide the flexibility and easy access to the target market so customers can reply.
Quick information transfers
The average time to send a mobile message is only 10 seconds. Businesses can use this information to their advantage and send important, timely messages to customers.
Creates brand loyalty and recognition
Text marketing can allow you to leverage feedback from your customers immediately. With text updates, you can send customers the status of their rewards and upcoming service specials and other business news. You can also send customers invitations to easily join a loyalty program. Texts simplify your company’s ability to gain customers and more importantly, keep them.
An economical choice
Small businesses can enjoy the same success bigger corporations have using these different platforms. By sending special discounts to a particular demographic of customers, you can help your company grow – without squeezing your budget too much.
Increases consumer loyalty and brand awareness
Most people always have their smartphone on their person, so any given customer is likely to receive and see your text – no matter their physical location. Ready to get the biggest bang for your buck with this more personalized method? If so, remember that it is critical to regularly communicate with your customers. It is also crucial not to overwhelm your customers with a constant slew of text messages – this may lead to them opting out of your updates all together.
Help your bottom line
If you’re experimenting with a new strategy, ROI is an important measure of a strategy’s effectiveness. A great SMS strategy may help your business increase overall sales so you can enjoy a better return on investment.
How to curate custom texts to your customers
Ready to reap all the benefits we’ve just discussed and start your own text messaging campaign? Here are a few considerations as you build out your strategy:
Send exciting service updates and product previews
You can use your SMS strategy to deliver a first-look at upcoming products or services to customers. By doing so, you can start to build hype around a new product or service that makes certain consumers feel in-the-know. This may also help you build a network of word-of-mouth marketing, a great tool for small businesses.
Offer specials sales and discount codes
Coupons and codes sent via SMS are a convenient way for customers to store these deals until they’re ready to use them. These special discounts may also help encourage customers to opt in to your SMS marketing campaign in the first place. But remember, by law, you can’t start sending customers texts without their authorization.
Mastering your discounts and offers will incentivize your customers to purchase new products or to sign up for special services.
Send out timely appointment reminders
If you own a service-based business where appointments are the norm, send your customers a simple reminder text – ideally, one that gets sent automatically to remind them a week or a few days out. It’s a great way to make sure that customers remember their appointment and don’t accidentally “no-call no-show.” Plus, it’ll enhance your professional image as an added bonus.
Consider contacting happy past customers with new product news
Customers who’ve used your services in the past and were pleased with the results are a good resource to tap into. Note: make sure the products and service alerts you send are relevant and part of their previous interests.
Update customers with order alerts for transparency
In our world of instant gratification, customers expect updates regarding when a product will arrive on their doorstep. Instead of forcing your customers to wonder where their products are in the transit process, you can send them regular updates about the ETA of their delivery. Status updates from start to finish will help keep your business transparent and may help put customers more at ease.
Create word-of-mouth buzz
With a select group of customers in your SMS marketing campaign, you can effectively make those customers feel like VIP members. For small businesses, these kinds of marketing campaigns may help with lead generation.
The bottom line on text message marketing software
Text message marketing software is a great way to talk directly to the customers you want to reach and make a huge impact. With a short pithy message and access to special discounts or loyalty programs, you can create a loyal VIP following. You’ll reach customers right where they want you to while delivering the messages that can boost your bottom line.
During the Coronavirus pandemic now, it’s extra helpful to use text message marketing apps to communicate with existing and new customers and let them know what new changes or safety protocols your business has.
*For more Coronavirus tips for home service businesses, click here to learn more.