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Mobilize Your Business

Three steps to mobilize your business now. (And why you need to...)

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Kim Dushinski

So does mobile marketing keep you up at night? Either figuring it out or being excited by the opportunities? Me too.

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Recommended Text Message Companies

U.S. Text Message Companies

Choosing a text message company can be daunting. There are so many choices with a wide variety of services available by each vendor.

Once you have eliminated any company that only offers SMTP email based texting (see why here) you can move on to choosing a provider based on the types of features a particular company offers and whether or not their service will work for what you want to do.

Need help getting started with text messaging? Want to be sure you are developing a smart campaign before you hire the vendor to get it done? Check out my Mobile Marketing Launch Kit which includes a module about creating a successful text messaging campaign.

Listed below are several text message companies that I have either personally used or have gone through an in depth tour of their platform.  Full disclosure: In some cases I will earn a referral fee if you choose to do business with them. However, no company is listed here that I wouldn’t personally do business with myself or suggest to a dear friend.

You will find companies that are Self-Service, Specialty Self-Service and Managed Service.

SELF-SERVICE

The following text message companies are set up so that you can sign up and handle your own campaign. Whether that means you are doing it yourself or have your in-house marketing team taking charge.

Texting Forward
Texting Forward is owned by Jerson Daganzo, a very smart and savvy marketer who also owns a Cold Stone Creamery franchise. His real world business experience translates into a very powerful text message platform that includes mobile coupons, a loyalty club with automatic tracking and reward delivery and the ability to create a variety of sublists for smarter marketing.

All campaigns are created and monitored in the easy to use campaign control center. Reports are built with a business owner mindset. It is easy to see what is working with your text campaign and what needs attention. The Texting Forward platform includes a coupon redemption module that makes every campaign trackable in a very easy way.

I highly recommend TextingForward, especially for businesses doing mobile coupons with staff who will be responsible for redeeming them. It is the business owner’s dream program because the reporting is so detailed. The easy to use user interface and powerful campaign features (including a social networking component) and robust reporting make this a knockout platform.

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markUmobile
markUmobile is run by Kathryn Rose, a smart businesswoman who understands that it is technology’s job to do what we want and then makes it happen. Her platform is set up to work for any type of business but she has specialty platforms for realtors (HomeSearchMobile), mortgage lenders (RateWatchMobile) and banks (Mobile Banking).

The admin panel is easy enough to find your way around in to get done what you want. Plus, Kathryn will walk you through it in your demo, so you’ll know what you’re doing.

There is an online widget available that you can use to capture text message sign ups from your website. This allows for the markUmobile platform to help you build your subscriber list from multiple sources.

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TxtWire

TxtWire, run by CEO Doug Moss, has txtdispatcher which is their service for schools and universities to send text message alerts (emergency and otherwise) to their students and faculty. They also have txtnet which is a network that lists participating schools, businesses and organizations in a given geographic area. Consumers sign up to receive information from only the entities of interest to them.  They also offer custom solutions for businesses.

One really great thing about TxtWire is that through txtnet consumers get to choose exactly what they want to receive – event alerts, coupons, other offers – and from whom. It works well for everybody.

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Mobivity
Mobivity is an excellent platform for small businesses that need a cost-effective way to get started in text messaging. The Mobivity platform has a lot of features, but is not as user friendly as it could be. Mobivity 2.0 is said to be coming out shortly which should solve that issue.

Campaigns are created in the admin site, but there is not much that can be monitored there.  (This is ironic because the Mobivity team is also responsible for Mobilytics, the best mobile web analytics available.)  Within Mobivity you can do SMS autoresponders, text clubs, mobile coupons, polling/voting and contests.

The best feature of Mobivity is its small business friendly pricing and variety of features. If you are open to figuring out how to use the admin panel, then Mobivity is a solid, smart choice. I use Mobivity for my Mobile Marketing Text News Brief and am very happy with their service.

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i2SMS
i2SMS is an Australian company with a U.S. branch office run by Giff Gfroerer. Their program handles text blasts, text clubs, mobile coupons and mobile originated information requests. I2SMS is the best text company to go with if you have a database of information that you want to serve up to customers via text messaging upon their request.

The admin panel is easy enough to figure out and there is some level of reporting you can see. When you sign up you will get a complete walk through of the system by someone from the company. That is one of the best reasons to go with i2SMS.

You also get unlimited secondary keywords that can be used to crate sub-lists and make campaigns more trackable.  A very cool feature of 12SMS is that you can send messages to your subscribers by using your phone.

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mobileStorm
The most robust and multi-channeled platform presented so far, mobileStorm helps you pull out the big guns. You can do mobile coupons, autoresponders, scheduled texts and text clubs. You can even use their platform to create a Text to Screen. Additionally, the mobileStorm platform does so much more than text messaging. It handles email, voice, faxing and also video promotion. They even have an RSVP Manager that is wonderful for clubs & restaurants who can use it to get more people in the door.

Customer service is high touch at mobileStorm. You will likely get a personal call from someone there when you sign up to make sure you are getting started OK. There is a lot of data and information about your campaigns you can access in the admin panel.

I highly recommend mobileStorm because their platform is more than text messaging and so it gives you more marketing channels in one. Plus they are a top of the line company with affordable introductory pricing to get started.

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SPECIALTY SELF-SERVICE


PhindMe / EverywhereIGo

EverywhereIGo is a mobile site building service with integrated text messaging. This is very smart to combine the two mobile marketing tools. The website builder is fairly robust and easy enough to use. As with all mobile site builders it feels a bit like wearing new shoes.

The user interface is mostly intuitive and you can certainly get at least a preliminary mobile site built in less than an hour. It will help to have a clear cut idea of what you want to create before you start using the site builder. Integrating in the text messaging component is super easy. Most of it is built in for you.

If you need a mobile site with a text messaging component, I highly recommend EveryhwhereIGo, especially because they have a fully functional free version so you can try it out.

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JitterGram
JitterGram is a local-oriented mobile coupon provider. You can very easily set up a mobile coupon offer and then send out coupons via this service. Their back end software takes care of everything you just plug in your initial offer and then you can send text message on a set pre-programmed schedule or whenever you want to send one.

There is a basic report for each JitterGram sent but you have to manually input the redemption numbers. JitterGram gets huge kudos for being super easy to use. Another bonus is that consumers who are signing up to receive JitterGrams from their website will see all the offers in a particular area.

If you need the easiest, fastest way to create a basic mobile coupon campaign, JitterGram is it. They offer the first month free as well, so there is no risk to give it a try.

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MANAGED SERVICE

The following are companies that actually do the text messaging for you. They work with your marketing team to create the campaigns and then they implement it for you. The minimum budget you need to work with a managed service company is $10,000 plus you need marketing support for your campaign.

Blast Companies / Smart Reply
If you are looking for a company that will handle the text messaging campaign for you, instead of you doing it yourself, then Smart Reply is the place to go. They will take care of every detail of your campaign from start to finish. In addition to text messaging they can also help you with a voice campaign.

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Confused by how to get started with text messaging? Want to be sure you are developing a smart campaign before you hire the vendor to get it done? Check out my Mobile Marketing Launch Kit which includes a module about creating a successful text messaging campaign.

Not Listed Here?
If you are an SMS text message company provider and would like to be listed, please contact me to set up a tour of your platform. I am open to reviewing companies worldwide even though right now I only list U.S. companies.

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