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Best practices for texting students

If there’s one thing to take away from this blog, it’s this: Before you hit send, ask yourself, “Is this valuable information for students?”

While texting is a powerful way to engage prospective and current students, there are right and wrong ways to do it. Here are some tips for effective SMS texting.

Identify yourself

Because your text will display as an unknown sender, you need to identify yourself as a human and establish a rapport with your students. A student is much more likely to engage with a person than a message.

texting best practices

Address students directly

When you address students directly, you show that they are not just another number in a large group. Using a student’s name also eliminates confusion and shows that your text is indeed intended for them.

texting best practices

Strike the right tone

If you come across as too personal or lackadaisical, it can confuse someone and make it difficult to build trust. On the same hand, a formal, stoic tone can be very off-putting and unfriendly. Be professional, but human with your messages.

Avoid robotic language

Text like you would talk. Don’t be afraid to use emotion, especially if you’re sharing good news. Be personal, concise, and relevant so the student knows they’re dealing with a human being.

texting best practices

Ask questions to prompt action 

This tip is very important. Students want information, and the best way to increase engagement is to ensure that they’re getting as much as possible. If you’re texting an event reminder, ask if they plan to attend. If you’re sending along an invitation to an open house, ask if they know where to park. Make yourself available to them and build a rapport.

texting best practices

Have a goal and a focus 

Texting is personal. While 80% of students want to receive texts from colleges, they do not want what they perceive as spam. (Hint: if they don’t want the message, it’s spam.) Avoid holiday greetings and focus on important information that is helpful to students. Don’t give them a reason to ignore your next text. Get your department involved in the strategy to ensure buy-in across the board.

texting best practices

Be concise

You’re sending a text, not a letter. Make sure your text has all of the pertinent information you wish to convey, but eliminate anything you don’t need.

Build trust with your students

The key is to add personal touch without invading a student’s personal space. An attempt at humor might seem like a great idea, but a funny gif might not resonate with everyone. Think of it as a numbers game where the risk is greater than the reward, even if your intentions are good.

Be ready to respond

You’ve developed a plan to build trust with your students, the last thing you want to do is to violate that trust by disappearing. If you’ve sent a text that asks if they want more information and they reply with a question, you’ll damage your credibility by not getting back to them in a prompt manner.

Have fun – show your excitement!

This is the most important time in your students’ lives, and you’re a part of it. Don’t be afraid to show emotion if the situation calls for it. If a student shares an emoji with you, that’s a green light to send one back!

texting best practices

Ultimately, you should enjoy being a part of your students’ education. Before you hit send on a text, always ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Is this valuable information for the students?
  2. Is this relevant?
  3. Am I being personal?

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For Mongoose, this is a big win

Adding to a powerhouse staff, Mongoose has hired Jeff Meece as Vice President, Strategy. With more than 23 years of enrollment management experience, most recently as the Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management at Columbia College Chicago. He specializes in helping institutions be strategic with their communications. Along with his new role with Mongoose, Jeff will continue as an associate consultant with Ruffalo Noel Levitz, an industry leader in enrollment management, student success, and fundraising management.

“I think I would benefit more if a school took an interest in who I am today, rather than who I was when I was 20.”

A great conversation on advancement with Dr. Jay Dillon, founder of Alumni Identity. Jay talks with Mike about how institutions should change the way they think about and view alums and donors, and how that strategy has led to better results for USF and UCLA. (Plus, hear the best email subject line he’s ever used – 23% open rate!)

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