How to Choose the Best Texting App for Small Business
12 Things to Consider When Choosing The Best Texting App for Your Small Business
Texting enables you to connect with your customers in a really fast and personalized way. In fact, 98% of text messages get opened immediately and 67% of customers would rather text than talk or email with a business. For short messages and up-to-date communication, texting your customers is the way to go.
Interested in texting your customers? Not sure exactly what should you look for in the best text apps for small businesses? To help, we’ve put together a guide that walks you through the features and capabilities you should look for in a good text messaging service for your business.
Generally, the best texting apps for small business have these features:
- Easy to use and get started with
- Accessible on desktop, tablet, and mobile devices
- Supports adding multiple users
- Uses a local 10-digit phone number
- Has call forwarding features
- Saves text messages as templates
- Creates groups and lists of contacts and customers
- Sends texts to multiple recipients without reply all
- Schedules text messages for sending later at any time
- Manages opt-in, opt-out and consent
- Integrates with other apps
- Provides good customer service and support
The first thing to consider is easy-of-use. If your text messaging app isn’t easy to use then it’s not worth paying for. Look for text messaging apps or service with a simple, clean, easy to understand interface.
Just because an app gives you more options, doesn’t mean it’s better. It just means that it’s going to take you and your team longer to understand and use.
Whatever app you choose, make sure that it enables you to connect with customers more efficiently. Chances are, you already have to do everything for your small business, so an app that only makes it harder to respond to customer texts is really of no use.
Many people are used to getting SMS text messages on their mobile apps on their phones. But if you’re looking at text messaging services for your business, you’ll probably need a way to text from your desktop or tablet as well. It is actually possible to text from a desktop and having an all-in-one solution saves time and increases efficiency across your business.
If your business works almost exclusively from mobile devices in the field, then you’ll need mobile support as well. Consider that many business texting platforms are desktop-oriented. You’ll need to make sure that if a service does offer mobile support that you as the user have access to the same features on the mobile app as you do from the desktop and visa-versa.
Depending on the size of your business or organization, adding multiple users to your account can be important. Good text messaging platforms allow you to add multiple users at various permission levels.
You may want to keep certain employees or users from seeing sensitive customer information. If it’s just you sending messages, don’t worry. But if you have a team, think again. Having multiple users seeing conversations can also ensure that all text messages get a timely response.
Many text messaging platforms actually give you 5 or 6 digit short codes to text from. These aren’t bad but they’re really meant for large-scale mass texting, marketing campaigns. Some text messaging services actually allow you to use both shortcodes and long codes.
However, when it comes to true customer engagement you’ll want a messaging platform that uses 10-digit long codes (10DLC). The reason? Short code text messaging is one-way and typically impersonal.
Texting from a 10-digit phone number with a local area code gives your customer a number that they can respond to. These numbers are also recognizable, reputable, and not typically spammy.
Texting customers from a 10-digit phone number lets them know that the message they’re reading just came from a real person. Businesses and organizations that send from local 10-digit numbers almost always get better responses.
If you’re a small business, no doubt you started out with a landline or even a personal cell phone number. This becomes a bit of a problem if you start texting customers from a different number.
What you need in this situation is a texting app that allows you to either forward calls to an existing number, or text enable your existing landline. With call forwarding, if someone calls your new text-enabled phone number, that call will get routed to an existing phone number that’s voice-enabled.
Call forwarding is typically an easier and more cost-effective solution. Other text messaging apps let you text enable your current number or integrate VOIP and voice-to-text features. Keep in mind, these features often come at a premium.
Saving text messages that you send all the time is a time-saving power move. This is an advanced feature that not all texting apps utilize. Messaging apps that do allow you to write and save a message that feels personalized are best for productivity and efficiency.
Organizing your customers and contacts into a list is essential. This is especially true when you want to send a text to a bunch of people.
Good platforms allow you to create all kinds of lists that you can base on certain custom features. An example would be: “create a group of customers who are all late on their payments.” Another example is “create a group of customers who have birthdays in January.”
Suggested Article: The Guide to Selecting a Group Text App
8. Send Messages to Multiple Contacts Without Reply All
You have to think about the person on the other end of the message when you start sending texts in bulk. Imagine a deluge of inbound text messages to your phone and they’re all contained in a single group message. That’s not exactly good.
The best messaging platforms will actually archive, sort and order all of your inbound text messages. This keeps individual customer conversations separate and well ordered.
The best business text messaging apps all have some sort of text message scheduling functionality. Be aware that scheduling messages can be vastly different between messaging apps. Some apps only give you select date/time intervals to schedule from. You’ll need a platform that allows you to exactly set the date and time delivery of a text message relative to timezone.
Opt-in and opt-out or TCPA compliance is actually very important and often overlooked. This is especially true when it comes to SMS marketing. You’ll want to know about the Telephone and Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA) regulations.
This means that text messaging spam is regulated. Your small business needs to make sure it has the right level of consent before texting customers. If your small business is interested in text message marketing and sending promotional SMS messages then you have to think about consent for marketing purposes. For all promotional messages, you’ll need “express written consent” before you text.
Additionally, the best text messaging apps will help you handle opt-out and a do-not-contact list. These features keep a dynamic list of customers who have opted out. This saves you from texting customers who have already said they don’t want to receive a message.
Suggested Article: The Small Business TCPA Compliance Checklist and Guide
Depending on your needs integrations may actually be super important. We live in an age where many small business systems can talk to each other. However, not all apps or platforms have native integrations that can support this.
Some text messaging solutions use third-party services to pass data back-and-forth. Apps and platforms with native integrations typically work better in terms of functionality and storing data. They’re also typically easier to use.
If your business uses QuickBooks Online, for instance, you may want a business text message app that integrates natively. For others, having a Facebook Messenger or Slack integration might be important. Regardless, check out the ways an app integrates first before actually deploying it.
Customer service and support are important when evaluating any product or service. When it comes to text messaging platforms this consideration is two-fold.
First, does the text messaging app allow you to perform customer service for your customers? For this, you need real-time conversations.
54% of businesses already use text messaging to perform customer support. The reason? Immediate response and triaging of issues. The faster you can resolve a problem, the better.
Additionally, customer service features work well for happy customers too. If you have happy customers, chances are good that they would leave your business a glowing review through Google Reviews, Yelp or any other review platform.
This is where a business text messaging app comes into play. Collecting reviews doesn’t have to be hard. All you need to do is make sure your text messaging app supports sending links.
If you can send your customer a link in a text message to review your business chances are good they’ll actually complete. Some text messaging platforms will include link shorteners as well. This is the final feature that makes review collection easy and painless.