So you’re looking for a texting service.
You know that you can get more sales or better group communication through texting.
(After all, everyone texts; there are over 6 billion smartphone users worldwide. And almost everyone has their phone on them constantly - 88% of us even use it while on the toilet.)
But you have questions. You’re exploring. You’re looking into it.
Here we’ll walk you through some different aspects of a texting service.
That way, you can make more informed and confident decisions about what a texting service is, what you can do with it, and how you can choose a provider that fits your needs.
So first, a few texting service basics…
“Short Message Service” (usually known by its abbreviation SMS) is the official name for basic text messaging.
It’s a simple text message, without anything “fancy” like GIFs or images.
Texting services enable the user to send SMS on both an individual and group basis, allowing effective communication through text messaging.
Recognizing the value of sending mass SMS to connect with customers, employees, and members, many businesses and organizations seek out SMS software solutions.
SMS providers offer an online platform (and often a mobile app) to allow you to easily send out your mass SMS and connect with your audience.
(They will also allow you to send MMS, or picture messages, but more on that later.)
These platforms also offer tools to manage the contacts within your text list and view analytics on your texting efforts.
Texting services are typically provided on a subscription basis, with discounts often given for paying annually rather than monthly.
Prices vary widely depending on how many messages you want to send, but typical starting costs begin in the $20-$40 per month range.
When looking through texting providers, some considerations to take in mind would be:
With these and other items in consideration, you’ll want to choose the platform that makes sense for you and your situation.
While businesses take advantage of texting services in order to get more sales and communicate with customers, churches and nonprofits utilize SMS too.
The use case for these types of organizations is more for connecting with members and employees - to have better, more efficient, and more effective communication.
Most of the texting services listed above will work well for churches and nonprofits as well as for businesses.
Another concept to consider in the sphere of texting services is the phrase “multimedia messaging service” (also known as MMS).
So let’s zero in on that.
What’s the difference between SMS (short messaging service) and MMS (multimedia messaging service)?
The basic difference is this:
Not too complicated! But let’s dig a little deeper into what “multimedia messaging” actually is.
In your everyday life, you don’t even think twice about this when it comes to your own personal texting with your friends and family.
A text is a text, after all. Right?
As highlighted above, there actually is a difference between messages that contain only text and messages that contain media as well.
But what does it actually mean that an MMS is “multimedia” and can include media along with the text?
It means that you can include attachments in your message - and it also means that your message can be longer.
Keep in mind that mass texting service plans typically charge an SMS as a single messaging credit unless it exceeds 160 characters.
Once it hits 160 characters, it doubles the number of credits needed to send the message. And if the text reaches 320 characters, it triples the credits, and so on.
MMS, on the other hand, can have up to 1,600 characters.
Now, MMS are typically charged more than SMS–Mobile Text Alerts charges 3 credits per MMS, for example.
But since they can contain so many characters, if you want to send longer messages, it can actually be more cost-effective to utilize this multimedia messaging option.
The most common use for multimedia messaging through a texting service is for photo messaging.
MMS allows you to include a graphic or image along with your text message.
This opens up a whole new world of possibilities, for marketers especially.
You can engage your audience with visuals, helping your business and promotions stand out, prompting better engagement and more sales.
With some of those basic texting service descriptions in mind, what else should you keep an eye out for?
Below are some odds and ends of things that a texting service can provide for you.
This is obviously the most important benefit a texting service can provide: an SMS (and MMS) sender tool to get your communication out in the easiest and most effective way possible.
But an SMS sender tool shouldn’t stop there.
It should allow the flexibility…
Texting services will provide those options to you so you can have more control over your SMS efforts.
Your texting service should have a robust yet easy-to-use SMS platform.
User-friendliness is the key to a smooth and enjoyable experience learning your mass texting tool.
Because who wants to be stressed out trying to learn something new? Not you!
It’s an extra bonus if the platform comes with a corresponding mobile app too.
Maximum convenience for the win!
Having an effective texting tool is not enough.
You also need to have easy options to build your text subscription list.
Otherwise, you won’t have anyone to send texts to and all your planning and effort will be wasted.
To make things easy for you and your audience, use convenient tools that allow them to sign up and subscribe to your text messages.
These can include:
Use any of those (or a combination) to get more subscribers for your texts and see better results.
What if you want to have more control over the phone number your text messages go through?
After all, with a texting service, you’re typically assigned a random number AGAINST YOUR WILL.
Which is fine, and works for many, many businesses.
But if you want a different number or more options, it’s nice to have that choice.
Some texting services will give you more robust choices for what types of numbers you can use to send your messages, so that’s one thing you can be on the lookout for, if it interests you.
If you don’t know what API is, don’t worry!
It’s simply what allows web developers to connect different software together.
Many texting services will allow API access so that you or your web developer can set up your own automations and integrations with various services.
Because, why not make your life just that much more convenient?
If you’re interested in a texting service’s API, you can check out their API documentation to see some of the different ways you can use it to create automations and integrations.
Speaking of integrations, what if you don’t have access to a developer?
Or what if, for one reason or another, you can’t use the API with a service you’re wanting to connect?
That’s why Zapier exists.
It allows you to integrate 2 services together, no coding required.
So you can set up your OWN integrations all by yourself. Pretty nifty!
What if you want to engage with customers (or other audiences) individually with SMS or MMS, rather than on a group basis?
A texting service will allow 2-way SMS and should have some conversation management options so that you can easily engage back and forth.
Think of it like an email inbox, but for business texting.
Those are just a few of the benefits and features to look for when scoping out a text alert service.
Which elements are important to you and your situation?
It’s up to you to decide that.
But now that we’ve gone over some of the texting service basics, let’s get into a couple of more specific ideas related to the topic.
First, we’ll talk a little about “short codes.”
You may have heard of the phrase “short code.”
What does it mean, exactly?
Put simply, a short code is a short phone number used by SMS texting services.
You’ve seen it before - Companies will say things like, “Text the word ‘sales’ to 74121 to receive discounts and deals!”
So what is short code texting and how do you go about it?
Consumers and businesses like short codes because they are easy to remember and type in.
For instance, it’s much easier to remember the number 74121 than to remember 800-568-3493.
Short codes are also good because they are heavily vetted ahead of time by cell phone carriers, which results in a higher success rate for delivery.
What does that mean?
Basically, non-short code numbers can have a higher chance of messages being filtered out as spam by the phone carriers. (Which means, therefore, a higher chance of not getting delivered.)
Short code numbers aren’t under the same scrutiny because they are pre-screened by phone carriers.
And yet another benefit of short codes is a high throughput - they can send messages out at a fast speed.
For many businesses, higher sending speeds aren’t necessary.
But for large businesses with a lot of recipients (hundreds of thousands or more) – higher sending speeds can mean the difference between your recipients receiving the message within minutes of sending, or within hours.
Up until recently, mass texting services as a whole primarily utilized “shared” short codes to send messages.
They were called “shared” short codes because they were shared across multiple businesses.
If your shared short code was the number 74121, for example, you wouldn’t be the only business to send messages through that number.
Dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of other businesses may be sending messages through the same number.
Due to changes in industry standards, shared short codes are being phased out of use, so they are no longer an option.
The good news is that businesses can still take advantage of the benefits of short codes by leasing their own dedicated short code.
“Dedicated” means it belongs to you and you only, so it’s even better than “shared” short codes which belong to multiple senders.
Dedicated short codes cost $2,500 to set up and $500-$1,000 per month to lease, so you’ve got to be willing to shell out the cash. (And they also take several weeks to get provisioned and ready to go.)
Despite all that, this can be something to consider if you’re a larger company with a robust marketing budget.
If you decide you don’t want to use dedicated short codes, we would recommend sending through “text-enabled toll-free” numbers.
These numbers are 10-digits long and are sometimes included for free with a texting service account.
Before wrapping up, we’ll mention one more consideration regarding how texting services can relate to Zoom - a platform more and more of us are increasingly familiar with in our ever-more-remote, COVID-19-impacted world.
Do you use Zoom for webinars or for scheduled meetings that require registration?
If so, you can use a texting service to automate reminders to your Zoom registrants.
Effective communication via texting with your registrants = a greater show-up rate for your webinar or meeting.
And a higher show-up rate = more engagement, and more sales.
The excellent news is that…
This Zoom reminder process can be totally automated!
And who doesn’t love saving time with a good automation?
With all that in mind…
You already know a texting service will be good for your business.
Ready to give it a try?
Start sending mass text alerts to your entire list today!GET FREE TRIAL