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How to not kill the medium when texting students

2 min read

Texting is a top-rated channel for communicating with students. Surprisingly, it’s also the most underutilized. Until recently, there was no simple way for institutions to manage texting on campus. But now, forward-thinking institutions are improving their enrollment yield and student outcomes by utilizing SMS management platforms like Cadence.

Remember what we did with email?

Once upon a time, it was really effective to send an email to students. But today, your response rates for emails to prospective students are continually declining thanks to overuse of the medium, combined with students moving to newer technologies.

Phone showing a lot of spam sms messages

The medium is the message

While texting is a game-changing development, campuses must be careful and thoughtful in the use of the medium. When the Chronicle of Higher Education interviewed Michael Stoner, president of mStoner for their article Brb — Gotta Go Text Teens About College, he made the point that “texting about the wrong things” is “going to turn teens off.”

With texting, there is even greater concern for potential misuse as the mobile phone is such a highly personal space. Without proper governance surround texting, students will tune out (and opt out) — and you may not get them back.

The threat: Irrelevant texts will make students ignore you

The open rate (and read rate) of texts is virtually 100%. That’s because there’s almost no spam. When a student receives a text alert, it’s a good bet that his or her attention will immediately redirect to the phone. So the payoff better be relevant and valuable.

But here is where we need to be very cautious. Imagine if we allowed any department on campus to text any student about whatever they believe to be valuable. Instead, as Dave Marshall told the Chronicle, institutions need to send messages that are relevant and important to the students.

 The defense: Be strategic in your governance of texting
When implementing texting on a campus, give the power to a select few departments and staff. Choose the few wisely. And always, always, always make sure there is an actionable and timely purpose for sending a message.
Recommendation: Institute a text messaging policy on your campus. To get started, download our Text Messaging Policy Template.

So what type of texts will students deem relevant and valuable? Well, every institution and situation is unique, but follow our general blueprint and you should be off to a good start. From there, monitor your engagement and results, then adjust accordingly.

Less of this:

  • Links to website content
  • Rejection notifications
  • Webinar or live chat invites
  • Links to social posts

More of this:

  • Reminders
  • Relevant notifications
  • Application details
  • Check-ins from counselor or advisor

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