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Put more students in the seats for on campus events

3 min read

How to make your open house a full house

With all of the work that goes into planning an open house, or any campus event, it can be deflating when attendance doesn’t match the effort of your staff.  A lifetime of spam has scared students away from their email inboxes. Schools that have instituted a texting platform have found a dramatic improvement in their response rates, but selecting a platform is only half of the solution. A smart strategy is needed. 

Texting before, day-of, and after increases your success rates

Taking a holistic approach to texting for events will deliver the best results. Try using this medium before, during, and after an on-campus event to help increase attendance and measure what was successful or not.

Before event:

  • Send out an event invite text - follow up with an email
  • Offer an opt-out text - keep track of students who don’t want texts relating to this particular event and segment your audience accordingly. It’s better to have them opt out of receiving event-related texts than from all texts from your institution 
  • Send registration confirmation - include a link to helpful information
  • Countdown reminder(s) leading up to event - with pertinent information (parking locations, what to expect, etc.)
  • Encourage invites  - get the name(s) of parents, siblings, and other guests that are invited to attend the event

The more engaging your initial invite is, the better your chances of getting responses. This text reminder is a perfect example of how to start the conversation with a question.

Hi <FIRST NAME>, we look forward to seeing you today at Open House! Remember, check-in begins at 8:30 a.m. in Rockwell Hall. Would you like us to text you a campus map?

Automated smart messages can streamline the process. Setting up automatic responses triggered by "yes" or "no" replies allows your staff to be more efficient and students receive valuable information faster. 

<FIRST NAME>, don't forget to reference the event program you received at check-in to plan your day. If you have questions, you can text back or ask any of the representatives on campus. Would you like a digital copy of the program? Please reply 'yes' or 'no'.

If 'yes', then reply:

Great! Here's the link to the event program: <URL>

If 'no', then reply:

Okay, feel free to text this number throughout the event if you have any questions.

Of course, students don’t want to be bothered by a deluge of texts, but it’s proven that students do want to be offered information. The key is to find a balance within your department by planning out text campaigns well in advance and crafting messages that are actually helpful.

During/day-of event:

  • Send final reminder - include where and when the event is taking place
  • Link to the program - include a schedule for the event
  • Text an offer to answer questions - assign someone to monitor during the event
  • Have templates ready - pre-written answers to FAQs will help your staff respond efficiently

<FIRST NAME>, we have shuttle services available to take you back to your vehicle. Would you like to know where the pickup point is located?

When used properly, a texting strategy brings together all your departments to improve event attendance, increase matriculation rates, and achieve fewer missed deadlines.  You’ll get more people at events and more feedback following an event. This way, you’ll know what worked and what needs improvement.

After Event

  • Thank students -  let them know you appreciate event attendance
  • Send a follow-up survey - be creative! Ask them to rank with numbers or emojis or include a helpful link to additional information relating to the event

<FIRST NAME>, thank you for attending open house at Mongoose State! Would you mind taking a few minutes to complete a survey to let us know what you thought about the event? Please reply 'yes' or 'no'.

If 'yes', then reply:

Thank you! Please complete the survey here: <URL>

If 'no', then reply:

No problem. We hope you had a great visit to Mongoose State!

Think of your communications strategy as a well-oiled locomotive, screaming steam and ready to charge. It doesn’t matter where it’s headed if there’s no one onboard. A texting platform combined with an intelligent strategy will put more people in the seats.

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