While students prefer texting to phone calls and emails, you can never rely on one single method of communication to reach your constituents. Utilizing texting in conjunction with other mediums is often referred to as 'nudging' and it will get you the best results.
Sending an email? Nudge it up with a text!
Consider the times you’ve received a postcard from your dentist, reminding you of an appointment the following week. Did the office also call you with a reminder? Odds are, the extra nudge got the job done. The same logic applies to higher ed.
Here’s a specific example from Nicole Winget, J.D., the Assistant Dean for Student Life in Adult and Online Education at Campbell University. Their Enrollment department sent a follow-up text to students who they had not heard from and had not yet deposited:
“We've had a few students, and one in particular, who reached back out. She had no idea she had been awarded financial aid from us somewhere in the process. She applied to Campbell, got accepted, but she started looking at other universities. She was so satisfied and happy with how her financial aid looked that she deposited at our university. And I know without a doubt, that's the crowd that we were targeting and we would never have reached that student without this texting platform”.
Emails are especially important when it comes to sending links. No matter which texting platform your institution uses, sending links to a large group of phone numbers can cause problems with messages getting triggered as spam and not being sent by carriers. The best practice is to send your link via email, then follow that email up with a reminder text.
Nudging it from email, to text, to phone call
Communicating from a Financial Aid office can be particularly tricky. There’s a lot of sensitive information changing hands, and security is crucial. Scott Miller Jr., the Freshman Financial Aid Counselor at Campbell University, explains how using multiple channels to communicate can help students reach their goals without putting their data at risk:
"The way in which a Financial Aid department texts students is going to be different than the way Admissions and other departments do. We have very intentional campaigns where we'll send out texts to students. When we communicate sensitive financial aid information, we encourage them to call us or email us at that point, so we can have a more formal conversation.”
Opportunities to follow up an email with a text are numerous. If your college or university has put together a virtual orientation for the upcoming semester and your email response rate was low, nudge it along by sending a simple text delivered to students who have yet to RSVP. While it’s important to not overtext students and cause them to opt out, reminders are universally accepted and often appreciated.