Panelists from Daemen College and Plymouth State University will speak with Mongoose’s Amanda Torrelli to share how they’ve implemented texting solutions. You’ll hear their success stories and best practices for enterprise texting.
The benefits of texting do not end with admissions. Learn how two campuses maximized the effectiveness of their communications platforms by enabling key departments to text with students. Texting helped solve issues with academic advising, financial aid, student activities, alumni relations and fundraising.
In this free, 45-minute webinar, you’ll learn how these two institutions took texting campus-wide to get better engagement with students throughout their lifecycles. This webinar will also discuss the factors that went into selecting a texting solution that met their immediate and long term needs.
- [Matt] Hey, how are you doing today?
- [Amanda] I'm doing well. How are things over there in Southern New Hampshire?
- [Matt] Ah, things are doing pretty well. Little rainy here on campus today, but not too bad.
- [Amanda] Same here, same here, Buffalo. So I'd kindly appreciate if you can just introduce a little bit more about your role, share with our audience today how long you have been texting, and explain what specific departments on campus are utilizing the medium.
- [Matt] Yeah, absolutely. So in my role at Plymouth State, I'm the associate director of enrollment management. I've been here for about three years. So in my role, I receive a transfer admissions team, plus all undergraduate and graduate group in marketing and events. As far as texting goes, we've been texting for just about 2 1/2 years now. We started off with admissions being the predominant user, but we've grown to having used this also in alumni relations, student success, advancement, student support foundation, athletics, and the student affairs team.
- [Amanda] Wow, fantastic. Awesome. Now next, I would welcome Greg Nayor, repping a local Buffalo institution, Daemon College. Hi, Greg.
- [Greg] Hello, Amanda, how are you today?
- [Amanda] I'm doing wonderful. Same thing, can you please introduce yourself, your role at Daemon College, and give our audience a little overview of how long you've been texting, and what departments at Daemon are utilizing the medium as well?
- [Greg] Sure, absolutely. And thank you, everybody, for being here today. We're happy to have you be part of this webinar. So I've been at Daemon now for about 4 1/2 years in my role as vice president for student affairs and strategic initiatives. Our most of the things that occur outside of the classroom really relevant to this discussion on texting includes retention initiatives, and that's kind of where our emphasis started. We officially started using texting as a medium in my capacity and the areas underneath me about five years ago, excuse me, about five years ago, since April. And then in the year prior, enrollment had been using it. So we currently use it for student life, financial aid and billing, student success and the registrar's office, IT, enrollment, and residence life.
- [Amanda] Excellent. Thank you, gentlemen, for the nice overview. It's really helpful for our schools that are joining us today, whether they're currently texting or newly exploring this medium to get an idea or flavor of how other campuses are implementing this. Okay, to all of our guests tuning in, we are now going to transition into more of a guided discussion and really see where the conversation takes us. With that, Greg, I would love to start with you. Can you please explain what were critical components or features that needed to be met when vetting various texting solutions?
- [Greg] Sure, absolutely. And I know there was some concern with my volume before. That's usually not a concern. You can ask my staff. But hopefully, this is good, and I have the mic close up to me now. So there was a variety of things that we were looking at. First and foremost, we didn't want something that was going to duplicate our crisis management alerts that we send out. I'm also responsible for our emergency response planning and our alerts. We wanted a platform that was completely different and separate. We wanna make sure that people weren't getting confused about the nature of the messages. Secondly, we wanted something that was gonna be easy and user-friendly, and that we could do from a desktop, or a laptop, or a phone, or an iPad, or any other kinda device. That was also pretty critical for us as well. And we wanted to make sure that we had the ability for multiple people to be able to use the system, be able to create messages, be able to send it out not just to everybody, but to specific groups. We wanted to be able to filter. If we wanted to send out a message to new students about living on campus, we wanted to make sure that the message was tailored to those individuals. If we wanted to follow up with another group of students about returning to campus, we wanted to make sure that we weren't just sending it out to everybody, but those who hadn't registered. So it was really important that we had a system that was smart enough and intentional enough to be able to do that, but also that was really user-friendly. And then packaging that altogether as a small, private institution, our funds are pretty tight, so we needed to be able to do something that was going to work within our reasonably-priced budget.
- [Amanda] Excellent. Now I'm sure a lot of folks are wondering, Greg, what role did IT play, if any, in helping you support this initiative and roll out texting campus-wide?
- [Greg] Yeah, that's a great question. So IT is critical. Any of the initiatives that we do here, and that I've done at other institutions that involve any kinda technology, it's critical that IT is involved from the very beginning. Because if they're not, you're not getting good data. Good data is gonna lead to a good process is gonna lead to a good outcome. If you have bad data, or you don't have good integration with your systems, that's gonna be problematic. IT was on board from the beginning. When I first initially was looking at moving into the system of using texting as a medium for us communicating with our students, I wanted to make sure IT was on board. I wanted IT to make sure they understood the system involved, and how they could utilize it as well. One of the things that's unique for us is that IT actually uses the texting as well as a way for them to engage new students about their accounts being set up. So IT saw the benefit right from the beginning. And so if they had a vested interest in being able to send out messages when an account was created, making sure that those new students got that message immediately and can answer questions, then they were gonna be able to help us in getting everything set up also. So again, IT had to be involved from the beginning. They had to help us with getting good data to put it in the system, so we could actually be able to utilize it properly.
- [Amanda] Good point. Good data is extremely crucial to this. And also, like you mentioned, having a system that's user-friendly that's gonna allow different systems to integrate and run platform our system can make everybody's lives a lot easier. Thank you for sharing. So we're gonna still stick on this topic a little bit, evaluating a texting solution. Matt, I'm gonna turn things over to you. I know during our initial conversation, what I found really interesting was how admissions joined forces with other departments when vetting your texting solution. Can you explain who those parties were that were involved during the decision-making process, and also, shine some light on how other departments adopted this outside of enrollment?
- [Matt] Yeah, I'd be happy to. So when we first had brought on Mongoose, it was pitched to us at a NYSACAC event through being a enrollment texting platform. But when we got it on campus, myself and somebody working in admissions at the time, Ava Tyler, we realized pretty quickly that there was gonna be usage for it in many other departments that are across our campus. So after about six, nine months of us using it predominantly in enrollment, we brought it to our athletics leadership team, and also our student success leadership team and saying, yeah, we have this tool that we're seeing really great success rate with, seeing almost a doubling in our response rate. So do you think it's something you'd be interested in? So what we did is we created a different department for each of them in Mongoose, then gave them the rundown. In what we have IT support a lot when we're bringing it on, the sharing it across different departments became kind of something that fell into mine and Ava's lap while she was still in admissions. And when she moved on, it really fell into my lap. So doing the training, sitting down, having a call with Mongoose, but then also just being the person there to trouble a few questions for them on campus, so that when there is something that comes up, they have a familiar face on campus that they touch on. After those two on boarded and had really great success, it kind of spread like wildfire. We started fielding requests from other people on campus who just heard about their success. So we onboarded advancement, alumni relations, marketing. And then our two most recent ones is going to be the student affairs team and the student success foundation. So the student success foundation is kinda one that I'm pretty excited about. They work with students who at any sort of need on campus, whether they are food insecure, or we do have an emergency financial forum, one of the pieces that they said is that students are hesitant to ask, 'cause they don't wanna walk into the building. So this gives them an anonymous way to text in and they can set up an appointment that's not necessarily in the student support foundation office, so they can keep those pieces kinda to themselves a little more private.
- [Amanda] That makes complete sense. Data and studies continue to show that texting is the preferred medium for these students, and it's such a brilliant idea that you're incorporating this. In many cases, students aren't gonna necessarily pick up the phone and ask those questions or come up to you directly, so providing another avenue or means to get the resources that they need is really critical. So it sounds like admissions really was the flagship, and over time, other departments picked up on your success. I'm just curious, Matt, did you experience any hesitation or suspicion from any colleagues along the way that perhaps were not as open to texting in the beginning?
- [Matt] Yeah, definitely we saw that, even right in our admissions office. We have some people who've worked in the admissions office for a long time, and they're little bit, we'll say traditionalist in their strategies. And same thing when we go out onto the campus. So we kinda have a try it for 30 days pitch. So if there's a department that's bringing it on, and there's somebody who's hesitant, we'll sit down and talk to them and say, listen, you don't have to do it, and don't have to use it, and after 30 days if you don't like it. So inevitably what happens is they say, okay, I'll give it a shot. And then about two weeks in, we look at the reports that Mongoose provides, and we see that they're activity is through the roof and they're loving their response rates. And then when we check in with them, the same thing is said. They say, "You know what? "I was super skeptical just because it's something new, "but it's exactly where the students wanna be, "so we need to connect with them there."
- [Amanda] Yes, and we often hear those stories quite frequently. Like anything that's new, it takes a little bit of time, but they're able to ultimately be much more strategic and effective, allowing them to spend their talents and areas of expertise where they can shine most. So it's great that you helped a little bit with some training and hand-holding until they felt comfortable. So let's piggyback off this a little bit, Matt, and we'll continue to stick with you on this question here. I loved to get to the heart of how texting has impacted institutional like goals or even department initiatives. Everyone loves to hear a good success story. Can you please share with our audience any metrics or success stories that you notice that really have shaped the way that you've communicated with your students?
- [Matt] Yeah. Couple things that always stick out to me. One was recently, this last spring, as we were heading into our deposit deadline, as I'm sure a lot of the people listening today face these challenge of incomplete applications as they're butting up against the deposit deadline. So having a large school of students who show that expressed interest, but at this time, they haven't completed to be able to be admitted and get that financial aid package. So we were seeing an increased number. So we launched a four-week text push where we're checking on the incomplete students about once a week. Well, we did get a few people who said, you know what, I've decided I'm not college ready. Please withdraw my application. Which is great, because at that point of the cycle, getting out of the file can be a plus for the student and for the institution, so you can focus on your efforts. We did see in our transfer student pool that we completed 30% of our pending applications. And then in our first-year population, of somewhere between 12% and 15%. So getting that bump of late admitted students at the end of the cycle who were still interested, we did correspond it to a bump in deposits. Interestingly enough, many of these students just said that, oh, I thought I had finished my application already. I was literally waiting on my acceptance letter. Let me get my transcript over to you. And then on the alumni side of things, our alumni office uses it a lot for chapter in a communications and then event sign-ups. So we see frequently that if that invites get lost in email, and even Facebook groups, right? Facebook has become a much bigger tool than it used to be, so that you have clutter on Facebook. So being able to text that to our various alumni chapters, whether it's Manchester, New Hampshire, or Denver, Colorado, and say, hey, we have this event coming up. We'd love to see you there. We see the increase in registrations. And then being able to text people who registered, say, hey, don't forget three days, see you at the Radisson in Manchester for the business networking event. We've seen an increase in attendance. I don't have specific numbers for you on that, but just knowing anecdotally from talking to the good folks over at our alumni office. They've been really excited about that increase. So that has allowed them to kind of bring back alumni who have kind of not been as in touch with the university to get them back involved, which is also, then will result in higher annual gifts.
- [Amanda] Wonderful, thank you so much for that overview. We, too, are learning that texting is a extremely effective medium to engage with young alumni. Think about this, they graduate, they might change jobs, their locations, but not so much their mobile numbers, so there are great opportunities to build those relationships, keep them engaged with the institution. Now, Greg, I'd love to hear from your perspective. You have the admissions team working there hard to get students on campus, they're enrolled. Now your job is to keep them engaged, make sure they're successful graduating. In your experience with using texting, how have you seen that impact student engagement at Daemon?
- [Greg] Sure, it's an excellent question. And I'll also answer one of the questions that came in about how do you use a variety of systems and then still manage these things together? Well, for us, in my role, I was able to pull together a lot of key areas. I pulled together student success, which included academic advising, the registrar's office, financial aid and billing slash student accounts, as well as the ones directly under my control, meaning student life and residence life. So we came together as a group to look at how we were dealing with students who were thinking about leaving us, or students who were not thinking about leaving us, but weren't completing their processes. If your institution is anything like mine, you have the group of students that no matter what you do, they are gonna be fine. They will register for their classes. They will find the housing information. They will sign up. And then you're gonna have that same, similar small percentage of students that no matter what you do are not gonna do anything. And then it's everybody else in the middle. So for us, it was finding a way to engage that group or pick that big group of students in the middle, making sure that they're able to complete their processes, that we're following up with those students who might be thinking of leaving us, and doing it in a way that they're gonna be responsive to. We know that students, we know students get their emails. I often hear from students that they don't get their emails, but I know they do, 'cause when I send them something specific and direct, I get a response back. But you know it's easy to ignore. We also know that students aren't gonna pick up their phone unless they know somebody. So texting is really the best way to do it. But you can't just inundate them, and that was important for us also. We needed to be able to spread it out, and we'll talk a little bit more about that later on, from different areas. So we were very intentional starting in April about how we did this. And April was reserved for our student success and registrar group to target specific text messaging to a group of students who hadn't registered yet, who might've registered but weren't full-time, and just quick messages about, hey, I noticed you haven't registered yet. Do you need any help with it? It was wonderful to be able to see responses immediately. We could see we sent out 180 messages that we got 60 responses immediately. And then that they were able to, the academic advising people were able to go in there and respond to those students directly. And it wasn't to their personal phone number, but it was coming to the central number that we were able to respond to and help those students out. That was tremendous for us, because more times than not, we're winding up spending our time over the summer following up with students. And once they've left for the school year, our ability to get them in, our ability to manage this is limited. So that was tremendous. And then another example for us was in terms of housing. This was a tough year for us in terms of enrollment, as a lot of small colleges are in Upstate New York, New York, excuse me, Northeast. And we found that we were struggling to get our numbers in for housing for respective students, but where our commuter student population was high. So being able to target specific messages to those students about creating living and learning communities, about being able to understand the advantages to living on campus, and just being really targeted with our messages really helped us in getting a significant amount of more students to be engaged and wanna live on campus that we would've lost if we were just sending them another email.
- [Amanda] Excellent, thank you so much. And this really leads us into the next portion of our discussion, so thank you for cuing this up perfectly, Greg. Developing a plan is essential, really to ensure the proper use of the medium, like our panelists have been mentioning. Not only to ensure that we are making sure the students are having a good experience, but also that we're being very thoughtful and intentional. And mobile phone is a very personal device. And it doesn't matter if you're targeting Gen V population, or working adults that are going back to school, nobody wants to be inundated with a ton of text messages. So with that, Greg, if you could just share a little bit more in terms of giving us a high-level overview of how those communications are planned and managed campus-wide, that would be great.
- [Greg] Sure, absolutely. So what we did from our end is we created our team. Our team, we had a point person from each of those areas I mentioned before. When we were doing the implementation, we came together, and right from the beginning, we established our ground rules, we established calendars. We wanted to make sure that people weren't stepping on each other's toes, that only one group was texting at a time, and that that we were all following the same parameters. We basically have five rules that we have to follow. So first and foremost, the first rule was that the system, Mongoose, for us, was designed to compliment any existing notification systems including email. It was not designed to replace it. So organizations needed to be really intentional about how they were using the system to advertise events, sign up, and registration through the traditional methods that they usually use, but not to use Mongoose first. We also told them that Mongoose, one of our second rules was Mongoose messages should only be used for targeted and reminder notifications to specific group of students, not to the entire campus population. Again, that's where we have email and other systems for. Our third rule was that only one organization uses the Mongoose application at a time to communicate with students. And that we follow the timeline calendar that we set up as a group to make sure that there was no overlapping of our work. Again, we didn't want a student getting two different messages from two different groups at the same time. Our fourth rule was that we were creating templates from the beginning so that the department point person was running point on that, and that each department was responsible for approving and sending out the messages according to that kinda ideal template. And then finally, messages had to be kept at 160 characters max. That was really, really important to us. I think somebody asked about if we use short codes or long codes. We wanted to make sure that we were speaking students language, but that we also weren't kinda talking down to them, or that we were doing something that was just gonna be confusing. So our template were based on 160 characters. Even though some platforms like iPhone to iPhone might be able to display it all at once, if you have different platforms, it might not. You might get two or three messages, and they might not be in the same order. So our goal is to keep those messages at 160 characters or less, and if we couldn't word it in that way, then we had to shorten it up.
- [Amanda] Thank you for that very detailed overview. Extremely impressive. I'll share that from our experience in working with over 400 institutions, our most successful clients, I'd say, have a plan. And they communicate between departments. And they're very thoughtful texting. Texting templates are a great strategy to provide good use cases and a standard for what kind of information is acceptable and what's not. For those folks that are joining in, just a friendly reminder, some of this information and content, we will be sharing examples of what this looks like, including a texting policy and some sample text messages. So thank you, Greg, for giving us that nice overview. Now, Matt, I'd love to hear from your perspective. I get this question a lot. How do you manage opt-ins? What kind of strategy do you use at Plymouth State University to determine who is eligible to receive a text message?
- [Matt] Yeah, that's something that when we first signed up with Mongoose, we had a lot of discussion about it. And I talk a lot with the Mongoose team and also our system council just to make sure that we weren't gonna be infringing on anybody's rights or breaking any laws. So we came up with kind of as a group is that any student prior to application has to have opted in. And we include this on every opportunity to get their information, whether it's a inquiry card at college fairs, or if it is an online inquiry form. Any place we gather information throughout the university, we try to keep that opt-in listed, so that we collect that at any point possible. When our system council in talking with Mongoose came to the conclusion of this, once a student has applied, we treat that as a opt-in. When you're looking at the use, and we'll get to this probably in a little bit, of Mongoose and texting, is that you are trying to provide transactional core information, so that we're not just setting out a push notification. It becomes transactional. And it's something that our council and the Mongoose team felt we could kinda give a blanket opt-in. So that's how we were able to leverage and use for incomplete application pushes and things of that nature is that once a student's applied, we consider them opted in until they opt-out. If they said please stop texting me, then we'll stop texting them at that point.
- [Amanda] Correct. And if you continue to follow best practices, as we've nodded to in some themes throughout the webinar, making sure you're being personal, you're being intentional, you're sending information that matters to them, the likelihood of them opting out is gonna be really, really low. And in continuing to follow the vein of some best practices here, Matt, I just simply remember you sharing with me the importance of how you are training your staff to set these standards. Any additional best practices that you can share with our audience that you would personally stress to your team, or even other departments as it relates to content or strategies to ensure everything's going well?
- [Matt] Yeah, absolutely. So whenever we bring on a new department, or a new set of users on campus, I sit down and there's really three big points I try to point out to them. One is that this is not a push notification. So we've all walked into a store, and our cell phone got a coupon that popped up. That's not what we're trying to do. We're trying to make sure that what we're sending to students is something that they are gonna get value out of as well as we will. So for instance, an incomplete application, or for our student affairs team, hey, reminder you have your disciplinary hearing tomorrow, anything like that, but having it be transactional in nature, so that they don't just feel like they're getting spammed or they don't get texting fatigue by so many different people texting out to them. Another one, we wanna talk about that you're texting, not emailing. I remember there is a new employee that we brought on, one of the lessons that we've learned a little bit the hard way. And we had introduced Mongoose to this person, but it was in the middle of a travel season, so we didn't have time to sit down and do the full training. Well, a couple weeks after this person started, I walk into their office, and their text messages were formatted like a email. So it'd say dear student name, comma, space, body, space, thanks, employee name. So have to remember to walk through and go through that full training that you want to make sure they feel like this is a text message. It's a 10-digit number they're getting. It's unique to each texter, so they need to make sure you remember you're texting. And then the third one, and I think the really important one, is respond quickly. You don't wanna devalue a tool. So if a student texts you, and you don't respond for four or five days, it's just like an email to them. There's no advantage to the texting. They don't find it as that instant source of information. So you wanna respond quickly, but you also have to define when you'll respond, because it is unique to you. So if you respond to a student or an alum at 10:30 p.m., that has now become your norm. For that student, they say, hey, I texted at 10:30 p.m., Matt will always respond when I go at that point. So when people are signing on, adopting their early comfort zone. Myself, I'm more willing to text into the evening. So if a student texts me at 7:30, I'm happy to respond back on my phone. That's just how I am. But I know there's people in the office who when they get out of work, they just make a point to respond the next morning, and that's fine, too. It's just setting your personal limit and when you're willing to respond.
- [Amanda] Thank you so much. Yes, texting is very different than email. We have certainly seen that as well. And for all the folks tuning in, as you're vetting those various texting solutions, you're making sure that you have tools to be able to again kind of steer the ship and making sure that your team is sending quality content, making sure that they're sending information that matters, and monitoring that is key. So in terms of of time, we're pacing really well here. We have about 15 minutes left, so I wanna remind you all that feel free to submit your questions. Here is one that we didn't really plan for, but I'm gonna open up to both Greg and Matt. Feel free to individually answer, or whoever wants to take this. But how critical is it that institutions begin to meet students and their families where they are communicating? And any final advice or wisdom that you're willing to share for schools weighing in today that perhaps are considering texting enterprise-wide?
- [Greg] Sure, this is Greg. I'll go ahead and start answering that. It's an excellent question. I think it's a balance. Like anything else in life, it's a balance. I think you have to, in certain areas where you're trying to advertise things, or get students involved, or you wanna communicate key things, I think you're gonna have to meet them where they're at in some way, shape, or form. But we tell our students, our formal, official way of communicating with them is going to be via email. So we are not going to text them. If they are in a conduct situation, we're not gonna text them about it. We're not gonna Instagram it, or snap it, or anything else like that. Whereas other things lend themselves really well to texting, so it's a balance. I think you gotta meet them where they're at when you want them to attend your events and where you want them to sign up for things and get them involved that way. But I think they need to meet you where the college is at when you're trying to help them understand what it's like to be a professional when they get out of the campus environment. And then the other thing I would say just in terms of piece of advice, is I think, again, you don't wanna do this alone. You wanna make sure that you have the right people at the table. You wanna also make sure that you don't have everybody's hands in the pot. I have a large division. I don't have everybody using the system. I have key gatekeepers that help us manage it. And anybody's welcome to use it based on our calendar of time as long as it fits the parameters, and it's going through that person who is a point, but we don't open it up to everybody, because that can be problematic. Again, you wanna use text messaging, and we use Mongoose, because it gives us additional redundancy in our communication systems. It doesn't replace one. It gives us an added benefit in some way, shape, or form. But if all we are doing is now is just switching platforms and sending everybody messages through Mongoose, that's gonna create the same problem. So it's just about balancing it.
- [Matt] Yeah, I couldn't agree more with Greg. It's not replacing anything. It's just a addition. When you're texting people who maybe aren't students from the alumni or the advancement side, we've got a lot of positive feedback about that. They can get the important information without it interrupting their day, and also not getting lost in their email. So we do have a calling program for alumni, but we kind of shied away from that from the event percentage of it. So when the alums have said repeatedly that getting a text message from, it looks like it's coming from one of our gift officers or relations officers is great, because they have the brief snippet of what the information is. It gives them a next step where they can find it. And it sent, being in their inbox, it makes them remember to follow up on that. So I think the nice thing about texting is that it keeps things more relevant, and it's a little bit less likely to get lost in the clutter. My one piece of advice, if you're looking for texting platform, I would very much recommend making sure you're getting one that has a long code texting, so a full phone number, and not a five-digit number. You can get five-digit texting platforms, and I remember looking at them before we brought on Mongoose, and it just loses its entire authenticity, because when they see a single phone number that is associated with a person at Plymouth State, it makes them feel like they have that direct access line. And a lot of people think it's your actual cell phone number. They don't think it is an app that we're using. So I think that's really important in keeping that authenticity and value of the program.
- [Amanda] Okay, thank you so much. We have about 10 minutes left and a lot of questions flooding in. Thank you very much for your insights. Both of you were super, super thorough. I genuinely appreciate it. So the first question that we have coming in, will recordings be available from today's session? Absolutely. Recordings will be emailed tomorrow, so keep a lookout for it. Next question that we have from Tyler, what data points do you see as most critical to analyze results from texting? And either Greg or Matt, you can take that if you'd like.
- [Greg] Can you repeat the question, Amanda, please?
- [Amanda] Sure. Tyler asks, what data points do you see as most critical to analyze results from texting?
- [Greg] Oh, yeah, okay, great. So a couple come to mind for me. I think one is overall response rate. And then two, I would say is how quickly they respond. So I think that tells you very quickly if your message is getting through to them or they're deleting it.
- [Amanda] Perfect, thank you. Mackenzie asks, do you feel like your students are overwhelmed with information? Our students have complained about the amount of emails and texts. Where do we draw the line?
- [Matt] I can speak to that. I think having, like Greg and Daemon College have, having a texting plan and an outline of really what you can and can't use texting for is a real way to limit that texting fatigue. If it's used, and I think every campus has the issue with emails, and I'm not sure there's a way away from that, but if you try to just use texting like an email where every single club and organization can push an invite out through it, it's gonna lose its authenticity. But where if you keep it transactional and make it something that the students are really gonna want to know about, you'll keep that value.
- [Amanda] Thank you. The next question we have is, how did you get started with texting? Did you have a test group?
- [Greg] Well, from our end, we certainly had a test group that we used. Once we figured out what we were doing, and we set our rules, we had a core group of students that we utilized just to test things out with, some of them are RAs or orientation leaders, or so on, and so forth. But then we also used ourselves as tests in there as well. One of the things that I'll mention with that is that, again, we mentioned that we use very specific lists and groups, which Mongoose is great at allowing us to do, and separate them. But we always spot check the data also. We made sure that to the group that we were texting to was the group we wanted to text to, and that there wasn't some weird additional data in there.
- [Matt] Definitely, we did about two weeks of just in-house testing with all the functionality. We made a list of about six or seven employees, and tried to trip ourselves up before we started using a live production. And all we did, we just did it to small groups for the first couple weeks before scaling up to any larger group text messages.
- [Amanda] Okay, the next question that we have is, how do you distinguish relationship texting? For example, how bulk texting compared to more personal text messages via a long code.
- [Greg] I'll just say that I think what Matt said earlier was spot-on. It was right on the money. You want a long code. You want relationship texting. I know for us here, we use Mongoose for relationship purposes. We don't use Mongoose for mass messages. When we have to do a mass text, that's part of our crisis management plan, and that system is a short code system. This, I look at Mongoose very specifically as a relationship piece.
- [Matt] Yeah, I agree with that completely. We do some larger groups. Say we have an open house coming up on Saturday, so we will do a text message the evening before, but we'll make it so it comes from the student's admissions counselor, so it's helping to build that relationship. So it'll be, hey, student name, looking forward to seeing you at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow for open house. Let me know if you have any questions. Insert admissions counselor name. So while it's a large text message, we have about 300 families coming on Saturday, it still has that relationship-building piece. Especially early in the cycle, introducing texting as a form of communication to the students through that way, it's a great way to introduce it to them so they know it's an option for them.
- [Amanda] Perfect. Now do you have any issues where departments across the university are using a variety of systems? And if so, how have you integrated your texting platform into those systems to automate messages?
- [Greg] Well, we really haven't had that issue here, because the text messaging is controlled, again, by specific groups, and we were really intentional from the beginning about all coming together to utilize it. The only other group that wasn't part of our initial team was enrollment management, but they're communicating with a completely different population, just like Matt is, in prospective students, not current students. So I think, again, it's all about the process right from the beginning.
- [Matt] Yeah, for Plymouth State, we use one information system to bring all that information into the Mongoose platform. So we're a Salesforce school, and we have the Salesforce integration. So three times a day, there's an API call that brings all prospective and current student information into Mongoose, and they're able to just log in to Mongoose and not worry about the back end of it all. So it's automatically updated for them.
- [Amanda] Excellent. Next question, we have maybe time for one or two more. What calendar system, Outlook or otherwise, do you utilize in managing multiple departments for communication, and how effective is that system?
- [Greg] Well, for us, we use a Google Calendar that we share, and it's quite effective. Again, it really isn't all that complicated from our end. We just kinda make sure that we know these are the times of the year that this person's gonna go, and this is the time of year that this group's gonna go, and so on, and so forth. And then we just manage a Google Calendar where it's pretty clear. So it's effective, it's effective. We haven't been stepping on our toes. There have been a couple of times where life has thrown us a curve ball and we've had to go off script with the calendar. And when we do, we just talk as a coordinating team and make sure that it works.
- [Amanda] Excellent. Next question, we're looking at implementing texting for career services. Any experience or words of advice in that area?
- [Greg] Well, so we utilize it for student life, but in very intentional ways. I can certainly see an applicability for career services. I could see it as an opportunity for tailored internships. Let's say that we have a great new internship opportunity for somebody who's animation, with depending on the time of year, again, if it's not coinciding or stepping on anybody's toes, I could see a targeted message to junior animation majors above a 3.0 sending them this information directly. Matt was mentioning it before, about the message saying, hello, the student's first name, and who it's from. I could see a great applicability for something like that.
- [Amanda] Yes, thank you. And we do have some clients that also use this in career services for announcements related to career fairs, preparation, wear this to a career fair, not XYZ. Perhaps sending one-on-one meetings to go over their resume to make sure that they're ready and they're equipped. So there are a lot of creative use cases that we'd be happy to follow up if you want further information. So with that, the final question, and we can close out today, is we're hoping to find additional information and resources, where can you direct us? Please note that we are gonna follow up with a recording of today's discussion. There, you will have the option to download a slew of texting templates from various departments. So feel free to utilize that content and that information. I just wanna take a moment to thank both Greg and Matt for sharing their insights with us today. We sincerely appreciate you just going in such depth to share with our audience today how texting can be utilized. With that, I hope everybody has a wonderful rest of their day and week. And we hope to hear from you soon. Take care, everybody.
Meet the panelists
Dr. Gregory J. Nayor
Current V.P. of Student Affairs and Strategic Initiatives at Daemen College in Amherst, N.Y., Dr. Nayor is an energetic and innovative leader who has served on various committees and organizations at the state and national level.
As the Associate Director of Enrollment Management at Plymouth State University, Matt oversees the transfer admissions team as well as all recruitment communications and campus events.
Director of Client Success, Mongoose