How Does Mass Text Messaging Work?

mass sms title

What is Mass Text Messaging?

Mass text messaging is the distribution of a large quantity of text messages to mobile phones. 

Typically used by businesses for communicating, mass text messaging is commonly used to communicate with customers and employees.  Common applications are alerts, reminder messages and for business marketing.

How does mass text messaging work?

Sakari mass text messaging process

SMS provider software is required to send mass text messages.  These SMS providers typically offer a web dashboard and/or mobile app to manage all of your sending and receiving of text messages.

The system serves as the SMS gateway, allowing you to send, and in some cases receive text messages from thousands of contacts in seconds.  The software will consume your data, process it, send the messages to the carriers, and return the results back to the user.

Bulk vs. Mass Text Messaging

They term bulk SMS or bulk messaging is often interchanged with mass messaging, but they are the same.  In either case, you are sending text messaging to hundreds (or thousands) of contacts utilizing an SMS gateway. 

How do you send a mass text?

Mass messages are typically sent in batches called campaigns.  A campaign is a series of one to many text messages sent over a period of time to your contacts.

When setting up a campaign the user will define who will receive the message, what message will be sent, and when the message will be delivered.  While setting up your message for delivery, most advanced systems will validate your phone numbers to ensure you’re sending to mobile phone and remove duplicate phone numbers.

Once your text messages have been sent, all sent and received messages are typically managed in a web dashboard or mobile app.

Preparing and sending your data

In order to send your messages, you need to provide the phone numbers and message to be sent. 

Most systems are configured to add data through a text or CSV file import or by connecting your existing system through an Application Programming Interface (API).

After you’ve uploading your data (or linked your system using an API), the SMS provider will process the text messages and send them to the carriers for delivery.

CSV File Import Example

excel file upload

Managing responses

After sending your messages, your SMS provider will generally provide a delivery report with a breakout of what messages were sent, delivered or errored.

Depending on what type of phone number you use, you may be able to send text message responses to your contacts.

What types of phone numbers are used?

When sending messages with a SMS service provider, there are three main types of phone numbers utilized: short codes, long codes and toll free long codes.

Short Code

A short code is a five or six digit number that is assigned to a specific company or SMS provider.  An example would be (“454545”).   Short codes can generally only be used in a single country, and are often shared by several different companies.

Short code phone numbers are typically used for marketing messages and have the highest message delivery rate per second.

Long Code

A long code (e.g. 425-555-1234), also known as long numbers or virtual mobile numbers.  Long codes have the benefit of being utilized internationally, and allow businesses to have their own phone number. The message delivery rate of a long code is the slowest of all the available options.

Toll Free Long Code

Toll free long codes (e.g. 800-555-1234) have the same international coverage and dedicated number benefits of long codes, with with an increase in message delivery rate per second. 

Typical Bulk SMS Provider Features

Personalized Messaging

Some SMS providers allow for each message to be personalized to each contact using wildcard fields.  For example, using a message template you have personalize each message with the contacts first name, the day they visited your store and a unique discount code.

SMS Template

"Hi [FirstName], thanks for stopping by ABC Flowers last [DayofWeek]. Here's a coupon to save 20% off your next visit: [DiscountCode]"

Personalized Message

"Hi Mary, thanks for stopping by ABC Flowers last Friday. Here's a coupon to save 20% off your next visit: MARY20OFF"

Two-Way Messaging

Two-way messaging is generally found only from SMS providers using long codes or toll free long codes. With two way message, you can send and receive text messages.  Allowing you to answer questions and provide support in real-time.


Connect your existing systems with your SMS provider to send text messages automatically.  Integrations typically come one of three forms: direct integrations (e.g. HubSpot SMS Integration), using a third-party like Zapier or custom.
Sakari integration examples

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