AWS Messaging & Targeting Blog

Using Short Message Service (SMS) for Mass Communications

Short Message Service (SMS) is a text-based component of the global wireless telephone network. Most consumers use SMS as part of Person-to-Person (P2P) communications in their personal lives, but Application-to-Person (A2P) communications are on the rise. A2P messaging enables an application to send a SMS directly to a customer. In 2019, over 1.2 trillion A2P SMS messages were sent worldwide.1 Organizations, governments, and learning institutions use A2P SMS from Amazon Pinpoint to stay connected to their customers. Common use cases include transactional messages, targeted promotions to a specific audience, or even as a channel for mass communications.

Although there are over 5 billion mobile phones in the world today, little more than half are smartphones.2 The ubiquity of SMS worldwide makes it a natural choice in many mass communications scenarios. SMS is broadly available, without the need for Wi-Fi or data, can facilitate two-way communications, and has a high open rate of over 90%.3

Use cases

There are multiple scenarios where organizations, governments, and learning institutions need to rapidly outreach to their customers, consumers, constituents, or students through SMS. Here are a few examples:

  • Organizations
    • Special working hours
    • Time-based promotions
  • Governments
    • New program alerts or updates
    • Upcoming events
  • Learning Institutions
    • Daily or weekly digests
    • School closure announcements or updates

Getting started

You can use Amazon Pinpoint to immediately send transactional messages, or to send SMS messages as part of a campaign. When you send an SMS campaign in Amazon Pinpoint, you can choose a pre-configured template, create a targeted segment, and view response metrics after the campaign is sent. To help you get started, we’ve created the following tutorials:

  1. Delivery via Console: Creating a campaign in the Amazon Pinpoint console using SMS as a channel
  2. Immediate Delivery via API: Using the SMS APIs from your application for immediate delivery
  3. Campaign Delivery via API: Using the campaign APIs with SMS as a channel in your application

There are initial actions to be taken by organizations when deciding to use SMS as a mass communications channel. First and foremost is gathering the right contact information for intended recipients and permission to contact them. SMS is an opt-in communications channel that may be subject to country-by-country laws and regulations. In many cases, this means that organizations must gain explicit permission from their intended recipients to send them SMS.

One way to gain consent from your customers is to create a web-based registration page. The Amazon Pinpoint Developer Guide contains a tutorial for setting up an SMS registration system.  For SMS best practices, including how to design an SMS-based mass communication and obtain opt-in from your customers to send them SMS, please review SMS Best Practices.

Other important considerations

In the ideal SMS message for mass communications, content should be clear, concise, and under 160 characters. Although messages over 160 characters can be sent, they may be sent and charged as multiple messages. (Learn more here.) An example for a simple 1-way message could be a school snow day notification.

Two (2) hour snow delay on 1/5 (Jan 5). Follow up today at 9 PM PST. - FROM Alpha School District, 1/4/2021.

As a scenario progresses, updates can be provided, but try not share redundant information.

School closure on 1/5 (Jan 5). - FROM Alpha School District, 1/4/2021.

If there are common questions you would like to answer from recipients, you can configure an SMS bot. Learn more about 2-way SMS bots in this deep dive article.

While it may seem like these messages can be sent by any SMS service, there are some important considerations when choosing an SMS provider, such as the scale of the provider’s network. While many mass communications are driven locally, working with a provider that can scale globally is important for the deliverability of the message. Amazon Pinpoint is able to work across global provider networks and, if there are failures, fall back to redundant routes.


SMS is here to stay as a channel for customer engagement across use cases, including mass communication. Amazon Pinpoint is a marketing and developer communications service, powering global end customer messaging through channels that includes SMS, push, email, and voice. Get started today:

Other useful links


Learn more about Amazon Pinpoint SMS channel in this YouTube webinar: