5 Text Messaging Platforms for Businesses

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Young people hate talking on the phone — and they don’t like talking in person, either. According to a survey from LivePerson, 73% of internet users between the ages of 18 and 34 prefer to communicate digitally, either via email, SMS, or social media. In a Gallup poll, 68% of millennials admitted to texting the previous day, compared to just 7% who said they had made or received a call on a home landline phone.

If millennials don’t want to call their grandmothers, they certainly don’t want to call businesses for answers to basic questions like store hours or product availability. That’s part of the reason why click-to-call platforms have taken off in recent years. A number of new vendors have entered the market, and other more established players have upped the ante with updated SMS programs designed to improve the way business clients interact with a younger customer demographic.

Here are five vendors with click-to-call platforms for businesses.

1. Textline
The idea behind Textline is to make texting a business as easy as texting a friend. Companies can start using the service to accept SMS messages for everyday customer communications, as well as support and sales. For example, a customer who sees a picture of a new product on a retailer’s Instagram feed can text the retailer and ask to have the product set aside until she can pick it up. Textline has a handful of “Text Us” widgets that businesses can embed on their mobile sites. Automated responses can be setup to go out during offline hours, and metrics are available to track response times. Textline integrates with a number of platforms, including Zapier, Slack, Zendesk, and Help Scout. A Limited plan is available for $29 per month. The Enterprise plan costs $2,500 per month.

2. Text Request
Text Request helps businesses generate and convert more leads with improved communications. Businesses have the option to choose their own text-only numbers or use their current numbers, and they can send and receive messages from customers via SMS right away. Click-to-text buttons can be used to add text messaging to Google My Business listings, Google AdWords ads, and Instagram business profiles. An open API is also available. Text Request offers a Starter plan that costs $49 per month. Corporate plans are available for $199 per month.

3. Zingle
Zingle offers business SMS solutions designed to improve customer engagement. Using a dedicated phone number or an existing landline, businesses can start accepting text messages from customers and they can reply through a dedicated mobile app. Incoming messages filter into a team inbox, which includes messages from all channels. Within the Zingle platform, companies can create reply templates to save time when responding to frequently asked questions. Analytics are also available as a way to link incoming messages to marketing campaigns or days of the week. Although Zingle’s pricing starts at $39 per month, it offers an Enterprise plan for large companies with custom pricing.

4. Zipwhip
Zipwhip says it’s the only business texting provider offering full coverage for any phone number in North America. That means businesses can send and receive texts from their existing landline numbers. The company’s platform includes a texting inbox, accessible on any device, where businesses can view complete conversation histories and analyze larger texting trends. Zipwhip’s platform also supports scheduled texting and picture texting. An Economy plan costs $35 per month. Volume discounts are available for larger businesses that opt for a Custom plan.

5. Instaply
Businesses that are overwhelmed by inbound call volume, or dissatisfied with live chat’s limitations, can use Instaply as a differentiating tool. On-site text widgets encourage web visitors to convert by sending text messages to the business. Those incoming messages are funneled into an inbox, where businesses can respond directly and answer questions via desktop or mobile. Whereas phone calls have to be answered and dealt with right away, text messages give the business owner more flexibility. Companies using Instaply can also incorporate texting into their follow-up procedures or collaborate internally on responses before they’re sent out. Businesses can contact Instaply directly for pricing.

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.