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When, How, and How Often to Text for Higher Ed

4 min read

“When is the best time to text students?” 
“How often should our school use texting?”
“How do we make sure we don’t come across as spam?"

These are the top three questions colleges and universities ask when texting. You want to be there to help and support students, but you don’t want to annoy them or overstep your welcome. And you definitely don’t want them to opt-out of texting communications.

The good news is, it’s not as hard as you think to find balance in your texting cadence.

Here is your checklist to review before every texting campaign:

Check 1: Is This Text Helpful?

Every text needs to be helpful, timely, and relevant. Put yourself in the recipient’s shoes - would this message be beneficial to receive? What is the goal of this text, and will my message help the recipient get there? Some quick tips:

  • Always limit the quantity to how many texts you NEED to send by sparking conversation with your recipient. 
  • End each message with either a call to action or a question to keep the conversation open. 
  • End your text with an opportunity for your recipient to follow up and remind them that they can turn to you if they need further assistance.
  • Take advantage of audience segments to make sure your message is personalized and relevant.

Let’s look at Admissions as an example. Admissions teams often send out nudges to guide prospective students through the enrollment process. If you’re sending a text to ensure students secure housing for the semester, send a text when you’re ready to begin housing assignments, and again when a reminder is necessary.

Texting students once a day might not be a problem if it’s a time of the year when a lot is going on in their schedule. It’s hard to envision a scenario where texting students ten times a day is helpful unless there’s an actual back-and-forth conversation happening.

Fundraising teams on the other hand text more sparingly, centering the bulk of their communications around giving days and key dates on the academic calendar. When reaching out to donors, follow the 7 best practices for giving day campaigns or tips for meeting your fundraising goals.



Check 2: Coordinate With Other Departments

Odds are you’re not the only department texting students. Be sure to keep in touch with other stakeholders and develop a schedule. Some schools keep separate calendars to monitor when each department is sending texts, emails, and phone calls. (You can color-code it!) If a student is getting 20 texts a week, they’re not going to care that the texts are coming from different offices, they’re just going to opt-out.

Creating a text messaging policy for your school is essential for getting every department on the same page and ensuring your communications are making an impact. 

Here’s a free non-emergency texting policy template to get you started. 



Check 3: Coordinate With Other Communication Channels

Texting is the most effective way to get a message to your recipient, but it shouldn’t be the only channel. Depending on the message, it shouldn’t be the first method of communication either. Texting works best in harmony with your other communication channels. Use texts to follow up on emails, send a text if your call campaign goes to voicemail. This will limit the number of texts you need to send while making sure you’re reaching students in their preferred method.

Here’s a guide to creating an omnichannel communication strategy to help you tie your institution's efforts together.



Check 4: Consider the Time and Date of Your Send

Avoid sending texts between 10 PM and 6 AM. Don’t wish students a Happy Arbor Day (unless your football team is The Fighting Trees). Do check in with students during midterms to ensure they’re handling school well. 

Remember, it’s not spamming if it's helpful, and students appreciate nudges as much as you appreciate being reminded that you have a dentist appointment.



Never Come Across as Spam

If your message passes these four checks, you’re in the clear! It’s highly unlikely that you’ll come across as spam and that your text is going to be helpful to your recipient.

Remember, there’s a difference between sending your audience information and having meaningful, personalized conversations. Don’t be a robot and don’t use texts as an information blast. Texting is the most effective, personalized channel you have available to you, so make sure to treat it as such.


[FREE TEMPLATE]  Text Messaging Policy for Your Campus DOWNLOAD