In January 2018, all residents across Hawaii received a text message on their mobile phone alerting them of an incoming ballistic missile attack. The emergency alert that was broadcasted through an SMS message eventually turned out to be false. However, it served as a good example of what SMS broadcast is—which is the practice of sending out a single SMS message to thousands of people (or mobile phones) at the same time using targeted geolocation—and what purposes it can be used for.
Now this may be confusing for some, as in more than one ways SMS broadcasts resemble SMS marketing both in function and concept. Nevertheless, the differences are there. Contrary to SMS marketing, SMS broadcasts send text messages to cell phone numbers specific to a certain geolocation. Additionally, they allow the collection of mobile phone numbers to which text messages can then be sent to frequently.
Broadcast Text Opportunities
Text message broadcasting can be used for many occasions. It presents a lot of opportunities that are otherwise unavailable on other channels, namely SMS marketing. Even though most people prefer emails to communicate promotional information with others, it does not have nearly the same immediacy as text messages. Not to mention, that when compared to text messages, the open rates for email are lackluster.
Broadcast texts ensure both immediacy and high response rate which is an opportunity in and off itself for people to use it as a channel to communicate with people. With broadcast texting services, you can target people through their geolocation and send text messages to them promoting whatever it is they you want to get the word about. For example, if you are coordinating an upcoming event, using text broadcasting can help you get in touch with local people in the area and let them know about it.
Text broadcasting can be used for other business opportunities as well. Since it is very similar to SMS marketing, you can be sure that it offers whatever opportunity SMS marketing does. Most of the time, cell broadcasts are used in case of emergencies to send alerts to mobile phones in the area of the emergency (like in the example above).
What is Cell Broadcast
So what is cell broadcast message? Cell broadcast is a method by which text messages are simultaneously sent to multiple phone numbers within a defined area. Cell broadcast goes by different names as well such as SMS broadcast, cell information and so on. What you need to know is that all of them refer to the same thing.
For people receiving cell broadcast messages, it is nearly identical to an SMS message in appearance. The big difference lies in its implementation, which technically speaking 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 through a cell broadcast can reach millions of devices within a given area in an instant, provided all those numbers are connected to the same network in the target location. Cell broadcast is the ultimate location-based text messaging service.
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. So if you have an announcement to make that you would like to reach multiple people at the same time, cell broadcast is your best bet.
However, sending cell broadcasts through a mobile phone has its own technical limitations—you cannot have more than 20 recipients at the same time. In this case, you can use a cell broadcast software to send out broadcasts from a computer.
If you are going the route of using a computer software, you will need to find a bulk text messaging service that offers a cell broadcast tool from its software so that you can target people through their location.
SMS vs. Cell Broadcast: The Differences
So we have already talked about how similar SMS and cell broadcasts are. Now let’s dig a bit deeper into the subject to understand what makes them different. The differences are evident when certain characteristics are compared and contrasted. Here are few of the key ones.
- Transmission: SMS uses a point-to-point system to transmit messages, whilst cell broadcast uses point-to-many or point-to-area.
- Mobile Number Dependency: SMS requires prior knowledge of specific phone numbers in order to send a message, whilst cell broadcast is independent in that regard and requires no knowledge of phone numbers.
- Location-based Targeting: SMS does not support location based targeting as it can send messages to pre-registered numbers only. Cell broadcast targets all mobile phones in a specific geolocation provided those cell numbers are connected to the network in that area.
- Message Length: SMS supports up to 160 characters to cell broadcast’s 93.
- Reception: SMS messages are received any time a mobile is turned on. Cell broadcasts, on the other hand, can be received only when it is turned on mobile settings.
There are other differences such as being able to verify SMS message delivery confirmation—which is not available for cell broadcasts—nonetheless, you get the picture.
SMS Broadcast Software
If you ever need to send text messages to multiple people in the same area, using an SMS broadcast software can help you with that. It automates most of the mundane tasks and can easily target people using their location. SMS broadcasts apps, additionally, do not require a contacts list to be able 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 messages. There are lots of good bulk SMS platforms that also offer SMS broadcast services. It is best advised to do some research beforehand to find the right platform for you and subscribe to start using SMS broadcast services.