Business News Daily receives compensation from some of the companies listed on this page. Advertising Disclosure

Podium Review

Max Freedman
Max Freedman
  • Podium is an easy-to-use text message marketing service with a unique focus on obtaining customer reviews and feedback.
  • Podium fully integrates with Google Business, so when you solicit customer reviews through Podium, they immediately appear on your Google page.
  • Podium includes a webchat widget you can install on your website. Messages you receive through this tool appear alongside all your texts for improved customer relationship management.
  • This review is for small business owners and marketing professionals interested in using Podium for their text message marketing campaigns.

Podium is a highly user-friendly text message marketing platform with one-of-a-kind customer relationship management tools. Podium includes a unique Google Business integration through which, alongside Podium's review solicitation tool in its messaging window, you can obtain reviews via text. These reviews will immediately appear on your Google page. This feature, along with Podium's webchat and payment widgets, makes Podium our top SMS marketing pick for customer relationship management. 

Podium

Podium

The Verdict

Podium offers seamless Google Business integration and easily accessible tools for soliciting reviews and customer feedback. These features distinguish Podium as the top text message marketing platform for customer relationship management.

Podium Editor's Score: 92/100

Ease of use 100
Review management 100
Webchat widget 100
Onboarding 90
Pricing 70

Why Podium Is Best for Customer Relationship Management

Podium offers straightforward tools for obtaining customer feedback and reviews. Its Google Business integration is unparalleled and equally great for customer relationship management and online reputation management. You can also use Podium to obtain customer feedback such as a Net Promoter Score from your customers. Collecting this information in the first place is as important as acting on it, and Podium makes the former as easy as could be.

Podium reviews page
A reviews page on the Podium marketing dashboard shows all your customer reviews at a glance.

Podium also lets you install a webchat widget on your website to improve your customer experience. Any messages you receive through this tool will appear in your inbox alongside your actual text messages. This webchat tool is uncommon among other SMS marketing platforms that we reviewed.

From your Podium inbox, you can also solicit payments from customers, and the convenience of text-based payments and invoicing can improve your relationships. This feature is a strong point in Podium's favor, as we haven't encountered it among other best text message marketing services. And though the platform abounds with advanced tools, it provides clear explanations right as you use them.

Key TakeawayFYI: Podium is the only brand we encountered that lets you collect customer payments via text message, and this convenience can improve your customers' experiences.

Pros

  • Podium's sharp integration with Google Business uniquely streamlines your collection of customer reviews.
  • Podium's webchat tool can add a live chat feature to your website that helps you better serve your customers.
  • Podium lets you collect customer payments by text, and this convenience can do wonders for the customer experience.

Cons

  • For all its advanced features, Podium isn't yet on the bandwagon of QR codes, which are a big text message marketing trend.
  • Podium prides itself on working entirely with small local businesses, yet some small businesses have said that its prices are prohibitive.
  • You must request most integrations, which Podium team members have to install for you.

Usability

Where many software platforms with abundant advanced features could quickly become confusing, Podium goes out of its way to remain easy to use. When you first log in, you'll see a guide that pops up with simple instructions. You'll also see quick tips for effective campaigns as you write your messages. After your first campaign, Podium will ask you for feedback that it can use to improve your experience. 

Targeted campaigns are also easy with Podium's real-time customer segmentation tools. This tool follows a logical if-then flow that takes the guesswork out of figuring out which contacts to target in your text message marketing. It's also crisp and clean, as is every Podium tool. Whether you're soliciting reviews or uploading contacts – Podium includes a sample CSV for properly formatting your uploads – you'll immediately see everything you need.

Podium custom audience
Setting up a custom audience is easy with Podium's minimalistic tool.

Speaking of reviews, Podium's standout Google Business integration is so deeply embedded in the platform that you might not even realize it's an integration. Hundreds of additional integrations are available through the Podium integrations marketplace. 

However, you must request all Podium integrations. Unlike with other SMS marketing platforms, Podium integrations aren't immediately accessible from the Podium dashboard. This feature is uncommon among the brands we reviewed, but Podium makes up for it by configuring your integrations during onboarding.

Features

Text message marketing campaigns Podium includes a tool for creating, executing and analyzing text message marketing campaigns.
Customer review solicitation Podium integrates with Google Business so that reviews you solicit via text appear on your Google page.
Webchat widget You can create a webchat widget to install on your website, and you'll receive customer inquiries in your unified inbox.
SMS-based customer payment Podium lets you collect customer payments by text message.
Customer feedback surveys Podium lets you send valuable customer feedback surveys in just a few clicks.
Guided platform introduction Podium guides you through the platform when you first start using it.

Text Message Marketing Campaigns

Podium's campaigns tool stands out for how seamlessly it includes other features, such as review links, attachments, templates and payment links. You don't have to navigate from your inbox to access these tools; they're all right there in your messaging widget. 

Podium campaigns
Podium campaigns can be launched easily and quickly.

Customer Review Solicitation

After you provide services or sell a product to a customer, you can use Podium to make the best of your interaction. The platform makes it easy to load a review link right into your texts, and the Google Business integration posts these reviews to your page. This feature is unique to Podium, and it can generate great new leads. 

Did you know?Did you know?: Soliciting reviews from your current customers is one of the fastest ways to acquire new customers. According to BrightLocal, roughly 4 in 5 customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

Webchat Widget

We haven't seen a tool like Podium's webchat widget on most text message marketing platforms. This tool creates a webchat icon to embed on your website. Podium will show you how it looks there before you embed it. Customer messages that you receive through this tool will appear in your inbox alongside your text threads. This way, you can tend to your marketing and customer support from one interface.

Podium text message conversations
Podium text message conversations are displayed in an inbox-style format. This is a screenshot of how the Podium inbox appears from our demo of the product. Were we running a full-fledged operation, you'd see webchat inquiries alongside standard texts.

SMS-Based Customer Payment

Podium is the only text message marketing tool we reviewed that includes an SMS-based customer payment option. This tool is stellar for customer relationship management, as it gives customers a more convenient way to pay you, which could incentivize them to keep buying from you.

Customer Feedback Surveys

Podium is the only text message marketing platform we reviewed that lets you instantly seek customer feedback once you've provided services. This tool is entirely hands-off after you set it up: Just sit back and watch as Podium automatically asks customers for a rating from 1 to 10. Podium will use these scores to build your net promoter score and follow them with open-ended questions for customers to answer. You can customize these questions to your liking and analyze their results.

Guided Platform Introduction

Podium is aware that its features are advanced and unusual. That's why the platform offers a guided introduction when you first start using it. Some other platforms do this too; in our review of EZ Texting, we found that it is the only other service that goes similarly far in holding your hand as you start. It feels especially important that Podium does so given that you're unlikely to see its customer relationship management features with other SMS marketing platforms.

Cost

Like many competitors, Podium offers a 14-day free trial that gives you access to most key features. You won't be able to try any integrations besides Google Business, nor will the payments tool be available. However, you can test Podium's ability to add links – whether for reviews or payment – to your messages. In our free trial, we found that these tools work well.

Thereafter, you'll need to sign up for one of three paid Podium plans. Notably, unlike most competitors, none of these plans sets a limit on the total number of text messages you can send per month. However, there will be limits on the number of texts you can send to certain categories of contacts. 

  • Essentials: $289 per month
    • Maximum number of contacts starting at 1,000
    • Maximum number of marketing contacts (people who have agreed to receive your company's marketing texts) starting at 100
    • Three users
    • No integrations besides Google Business
    • No advanced segmentation
    • Webinar onboarding
  • Standard: $449 per month
    • Unlimited number of contacts
    • Maximum number of marketing contacts starting at 500
    • Unlimited users
    • Access to all integrations
    • Advanced segmentation
    • One-on-one onboarding
  • Professional: $649 per month
    • Unlimited number of contacts
    • Maximum number of marketing contacts starting at 1,000
    • Unlimited users
    • Integrations
    • Advanced segmentation
    • One-on-one onboarding

Additional fees apply if you use Podium's SMS-based customer payment tool. You'll pay a small portion of each transaction to use this service. This rate is 2.7%, 2.6% or 2.5% per transaction for, respectively, the Essentials, Standard or Professional plan. You'll pay an additional $0.30 per transaction with all plans. These prices are within the boundaries of what standard credit card processing companies charge.

On a dollars-per-message basis, Podium is highly affordable since you can send an unlimited number of messages at all price tiers. However, Podium customers – entirely small, non-enterprise businesses – have nevertheless complained that the brand's prices are prohibitively high. If you consider Podium's caps on marketing contacts, this customer complaint can begin to feel true. If high costs are a dealbreaker for you, then check out our full review of Textedly for a low-cost, highly scalable alternative.

Setup

Once you've signed up for Podium, you can log in and let the guide take you on a clear, comprehensive tour. We've seen similar guidance features with only a few other SMS marketing platforms. 

Even with this guide, setup can take a bit longer for Podium than for other text message marketing platforms, primarily due to the advanced and specific nature of its features. You may need to add your credit card information, create review templates and develop customer surveys as well, which isn't typically part of other SMS messaging platforms' setup processes. That said, while other platforms offer certain features only as add-ons, everything you'll get with Podium is included in your pricing plan.

Your Podium setup can go a bit faster if you opt for the Standard or Professional plan. As part of these plans, you'll get one-on-one onboarding from a Podium team member. If you instead choose the Essentials plan, you'll get an onboarding video that you and your team can watch together. These onboarding services are included with your Podium subscription. You also won't pay extra to migrate your data or add contacts.

The tough part of setting up Podium is getting all your integrations in order, as the only native integration is Google Business. For other integrations, Podium will connect you with several people who can help you, but you'll have to manually request certain integrations. 

For example, if you need to pair your Podium SMS payments tool with QuickBooks for accounting purposes, you must request an integration. Then, you'll need to wait for a call from Podium's integrations team. This process makes integration setup considerably slower and less straightforward than with other text message marketing platforms. [Learn more about this accounting software in our QuickBooks review.]

Podium support in setting up integrations
You will need Podium's support in setting up integrations beyond Google Business, including QuickBooks Online.

Customer Service

Podium offers phone and live chat support from the help button in the top right corner of your dashboard. The brand doesn't list its customer service hours publicly or privately anywhere, but Podium previously told us that its customer support team is available on weekdays from 9 a.m. to midnight ET.

In our previous reporting on Podium, we found that it offers email support. However, we couldn't find a way to reach out by email in our current round of research. We instead reached out to a customer support representative through the live chat tool in the dashboard and heard back within five minutes. We found the answers this representative provided to be very thorough and helpful. 

All Podium customer service features come at no extra cost, as is standard for text message marketing services. Though we were surprised that Podium's email customer service felt so inaccessible, its live chat is superior to that of many other brands. For example, while conducting research for our full review of SimpleTexting, we waited 15 minutes for a live chat response – three times slower than Podium.

Key TakeawayKey takeaway: Podium's customer service tools have some minor imperfections, but overall, we found the brand to be relatively accessible.

Drawbacks

Podium has yet to offer a QR code tool, an increasingly common function on competitors' platforms. With this tool, you can add a QR code to your printed materials. Then, your customers can scan it to immediately load your number and signup keyword into their messaging app. It's a highly flexible, versatile tool that Podium lacks. 

Despite Podium being the rare platform that offers unlimited messages at all pricing tiers, many customer reviews describe its costs as prohibitively high. That's a fair point: You could use SimpleTexting to send 7,500 SMS messages per month for less than you'd pay on the lowest-cost Podium plan. However, Podium's features are both advanced and easy to use, so the platform may be well worth the investment if you can afford it.

Where other platforms include many integrations from the jump, Podium requires you to request almost all of its integrations. The company will then call you to set up an appointment with its integrations team. This process takes considerably longer than it does with competitors; often, you can just log in to a platform and immediately access built-in integrations. If a seamless text message marketing experience from the get-go is paramount for you, then Podium might be a mismatch.

Methodology

To effectively review Podium and compare it to other platforms, we browsed the websites of 13 different SMS marketing tools. More importantly, for Podium and four other platforms, we arranged guided Zoom demos with company representatives. We also received two-week free trials for these platforms and tried them out for ourselves. The vast majority of what you see in our reviews reflects this process, though some customer service and setup facts come from browsing Capterra reviews.

FAQs

What does Podium do?

Podium is well known for offering more services than traditional text message marketing. You can use it to solicit customer reviews, add a webchat widget to your website and obtain customer payments via text. 

Which customer service options does Podium offer?

You can reach Podium by phone or live chat. Podium's phone number is available from the help center of your dashboard, and live chat is accessible there too. 

Is Podium expensive?

Podium's prices are on the high end for a text message marketing service. However, these high prices reflect the breadth of its unique, high-level features. You're paying for considerably more than just text message marketing.

Overall Value

We recommend Podium for …

  • Small businesses that want to solicit customer reviews through a communication channel with high response and open rates.
  • Small businesses that want to obtain customer feedback through a highly responsive channel.
  • Small businesses that want to offer live chat and hassle-free SMS payments that improve the customer experience.

We don't recommend Podium for …

  • Small businesses operating on a tight marketing budget.
  • Small businesses that need several handy integrations ready to go.
  • Small businesses that want basic text message marketing tools but not advanced, one-of-a-kind features. 

Image Credit: mangpor_2004 / Getty Images
Podium

Podium

The Verdict

Podium offers seamless Google Business integration and easily accessible tools for soliciting reviews and customer feedback. These features distinguish Podium as the top text message marketing platform for customer relationship management.

Max Freedman
Max Freedman
Business News Daily Contributing Writer
Max Freedman is a content writer who has written hundreds of articles about small business strategy and operations, with a focus on finance and HR topics. He's also published articles on payroll, small business funding, and content marketing. In addition to covering these business fundamentals, Max also writes about improving company culture, optimizing business social media pages, and choosing appropriate organizational structures for small businesses.