According to the ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 95% of undergraduates own a smartphone.
And while email may have been the standard method of communication over the last few decades, more than 3/4 of all college students now prefer to receive information from their educational institution by text message.
Not only is texting gaining popularity as the preferred communication method in higher ed, it’s also becoming the most efficient.
With the inclusion of extended SMS and MMS messaging, which allows you to add rich media as well as up to 1,600 characters of space, texting is no longer the limited messaging platform of the early 2000s.
Curious about how texting may fit into your university’s operations? Wondering how you would go about introducing SMS to students, parents, and faculty?
We’ve got everything you need to get started right here.
Your school’s SMS strategy will entirely depend on your audience.
For example, you can use your school messaging system app to share things like emergency alerts and campus-wide announcements with everyone.
You could also segment your audience into more niche groupings like first-year orientation programming, admissions, athletics, or even use texting as a research or polling tool.
Once you nail down who you’ll be communicating with and why, the scale of your communications plan will become a lot clearer.
There are no major limits to what you can use texting to accomplish—but in working with hundreds of educational institutions each year, these are some of the most common use cases we encounter.
Many colleges use texting as a way to reach prospective students. Some common practices include:
If you need to reach students with alerts (emergent and/or non-emergent) texting is one of the fastest ways to get your message read. In seconds you can send out a mass text alerting students, staff, and parents of:
Keep engaged alumni networks alive and informed with text updates on topics like:
Mass texting at the scale you’d need for a college can’t be accomplished with just a cellphone.
You need the assistance of SMS messaging software to help you reach audiences both large and small.
A text marketing provider will set your institution up with a text-enabled phone number from which you can send text blasts, segment your contacts into groups, facilitate one-on-one conversations from the inbox, and more.
When it comes to getting started, here are a few of the most important things to note:
Once you’re up and running and have started to grow your subscriber list you’re ready to start sending messages!
And what better way to see this step in action than through a case study.
NC State University is the largest university in the Carolinas. And when COVID-19 turned their typical first-year orientation programming on its head, they needed a virtual substitution for in-person communication.
SMS became that solution.
The first step was to let students know how to get signed up for the orientation texts. They did this a few different ways:
Throughout the course of orientation, their team used SMS to share program and event updates as well as answer individual student questions.
6,672 student questions in one week to be exact!
To learn how they made it all come together, read the full case study here.
And to learn more about getting started with SMS for higher ed, check out our guide to school SMS software.