How To Reach People in Targeted Locations With SMS Broadcast

Anahid Akkam
Anahid AkkamContent Manager

Published: Jul 3, 2019

SMS Broadcast

In January 2018, residents of Hawaii received a text message on their mobile phones alerting them of an incoming ballistic missile attack. The emergency alert eventually turned out to be false; however, the public warning served as a good example of what an SMS broadcast is. Text message broadcast is the practice of sending out a single SMS message to thousands of people at the same time using targeted geolocation.

Now, this may be confusing for some people—isn’t text marketing and broadcast the same? Contrary to marketing, broadcasting with SMS involves sending text messages to cell phone numbers specific to certain geolocation. They also allow collecting mobile phone numbers, to which they can frequently send text messages.

What is a Broadcast Text Message?

A broadcast text message refers to a message that is sent simultaneously to a large number of recipients, often through a communication platform or messaging service. It's a way to quickly and efficiently disseminate information, announcements, promotions, or any other type of message to a wide audience without having to send individual messages to each recipient.

These types of texts are commonly used by businesses, organizations, schools, government agencies, and individuals to reach out to multiple people at once. For example, a business might use broadcast text messages to notify customers about a sale or promotion, an organization might use them to inform members about an upcoming event, or a school might use them to alert parents about school closures.

What Does Broadcast Text Mean?

In the context of messaging apps and platforms, "broadcast text" typically refers to a feature that allows users to send a single message to multiple recipients, often organized into lists or groups. This can be especially useful for announcements that need to reach a large audience quickly and efficiently.

When to Send Broadcast Texts?

You can send broadcast text messages for many reasons. It presents a lot of opportunities that are otherwise unavailable on other channels, namely SMS marketing. While most people prefer email promotional content, it doesn’t have the same immediacy as text messages. Not to mention, when compared to text messages, email open rates are lackluster. However, sending email to SMS is always an option. 

Broadcast text ensures both immediacy and a high response rate, allowing people to use it as a communication channel. With broadcast SMS services, you can target people based on their geolocation and send text messages promoting a product, service, event, or anything else. For example, if there’s an upcoming event, you can use mobile broadcasting to help you get in touch with locals in the area and let them know about it.

SMS Broadcast Software

If you ever need to send text messages to multiple people in the same area, using a software can help you with that process. It automates most of the redundant tasks and can easily target people based on their location. SMS broadcasting apps are pretty affordable and do not require a contacts list to send text messages to people. All you need to do is write the content of the message, select the target area, and send your message.

There are lots of SMS marketing platforms that also offer broadcast services. With the right amount of research, you can find an SMS platform that works best for you.

What is Cell Broadcast

Many people use cell and SMS broadcasts interchangeably; however, they’re not exactly the same. Cell broadcast is when you simultaneously send text messages to multiple phone numbers within a defined area.

Cell broadcast is the ultimate location-based text messaging service. For those receiving cell broadcast texts, it’s basically identical to an SMS message. The big difference lies in its implementation, which is far more practical.

SMS uses a point-to-point connection, whereas cell broadcast works on a one-to-many basis. This means that a single message sent through a cell broadcast can instantly reach millions of devices within a given area as long as the numbers are connected to the same network in the target location.

SMS Vs. Cell Broadcast: The Differences

The differences between cell and SMS broadcasts are evident when certain characteristics are compared and contrasted. You’ll find disparities such as being able to verify SMS message delivery, which you can’t with cell broadcasts. Nonetheless, you get the picture—here are the main differences.


SMS uses a point-to-point system to transmit messages, while cell broadcast services use point-to-many or point-to-area.

Mobile Number Dependency

SMS requires prior knowledge of specific phone numbers in order to send a message, while cell broadcasting requires no knowledge of phone numbers.

Location-Based Targeting

SMS does not support location-based targeting; it can only send messages to pre-registered numbers. Cell broadcast targets all mobile phones in specific geolocation as long as the cell numbers are connected to the network in that area.

Message Length

SMS supports up to 160 characters, whereas cell broadcasts are limited to 93.


Whenever a user turns on their mobile device, they can receive SMS messages. However, a user can only receive cell broadcasts if they turn them on in their mobile settings.

How to Use Cell Broadcast

Sending cell broadcast messages is not difficult at all. Most mobile phones have a built-in feature that supports this function. However, sending cell broadcasts through a mobile phone has its technical limitations—you can’t have more than 20 recipients at the same time. In this case, you can use a software to send SMS broadcasts.

If you are using computer software, you’ll have to find a mass text messaging service that offers cell broadcasts to target a specific location.