Texting Software for Higher Education: How to Choose the Right One

SMS is one of the most effective ways to reach students, but with so many texting platforms out there it's hard to know where to start. Our article is here to help you understand what to look out for.

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Did you know, 94% of 18-29-year-olds own a smartphone, and the average college student spends 8-10 hours on their cell phone

Most higher education institutions have tapped into the power of cell phones by investing in SMS software to reach their students.

From pre-arrival forms and administration to sports games and vacation reminders, you don’t want to be ignored when you have important information to send out. With a 98% open rate, you know your messages are read.

With so many texting platforms on the market, it’s important to find the best one for your needs. Here’s how to find the best higher education texting software for your student body.

What Is a Higher Ed Texting Platform?

A higher ed texting platform is a mass communication software that allows universities to send targeted SMS messages to contact lists. You can also use a higher ed texting platform to engage in two-way conversations and send automated text messages.

You build or import a contact list, write your text message, click send, and respond to any replies from an inbox. (Staff members with access to the texting platform can track and manage multiple conversations at the same time.) Students then receive standard text messages in their native SMS apps.

Higher education mass texting is one of the most popular uses of a higher education texting platform due to its ability to reach many students at once. Bulk text messaging also happens to be one of the quickest ways to reach students and parents in real-time.

Thanks to analytics, you can even tweak your message based on data, increasing response and open rates.

Today 8:00 AM
REMINDER: Fall semester begins 8/30. Please complete your enrollment form before your arrival. We look forward to welcoming you! Form here: http://txt.st/sample

3 Ways Universities Use Higher Ed Texting Platforms

Sure, we can tell you why your university needs texting software, but how are other higher education institutions like yours using it to their advantage?

Here are some examples:

Reduce “Summer Melt”

Unfortunately, summer melt is a real problem for universities across the country. Students who previously intended to go to university, fail to show up for enrollment.

This can be caused by a number of different factors, including financial hardship and changes in personal circumstances. However, it can also be the result of teens getting caught up in their post-high school summer, losing interest in studying, and simply changing their minds.

One of the best things your university can do is remind students why they’ve chosen YOUR university. 

Keep in contact over summer vacation by sending out reminders in anticipation of enrollment day or creating a text-to-win giveaway for some school merch. This is a great way to bring the student experience forward and make incoming students feel like they’re already a part of your university.

Improve the Admissions Process

A college SMS system is all about smoothing out processes and easing life for both students and staff.

One of the busiest periods in the academic year is right at the start. There are forms to fill, appointments to make, and thousands of different students all with different majors and different needs.

Incorporating a text platform enables you to break down your contact list into different audiences, so you can quickly and easily send out relevant information to specific groups. 

When you’ve broken down your contact list, use the teammates feature to assign different members of staff their own contact lists to manage and communicate with. 

Provide More Information on Financial Aid

Your students’ circumstances can change overnight. Those who previously didn’t need financial aid can find their situation has changed.

Reaching out to your university to admit you need financial help isn’t easy. But as a university, you can make the process a whole lot simpler for those looking for information.

A keyword is a word or phrase members of the student body can text to your number to sign up for information on a particular topic.

For example, if the student is looking for more information on financial aid, you could create the keyword ‘FINANCE’. 

When a student texts the word ‘FINANCE’ it sends them links to relevant information on how to apply for financial aid at your university.

Today 8:25 AM
FINANCE
Thanks for reaching out. To apply for financial aid, please follow this link: http://txt.st/sample. You will need your student ID to complete your application.

Alternatively, you can offer two-way messaging for students texting in the keyword, offering the opportunity to reach out for more hands-on advice from a team member.

Today 10:30 AM
FINANCE
To apply for financial aid, please follow this link: http://txt.st/sample. To talk to someone from the financial aid team, please reply 1.
1
Hi, this is Alice from the finance team. How can I help you?

How MIU Uses Text Messaging to Increase Enrollment

One higher education institution that has incorporated texting into its student outreach is Maharishi International University.

The university previously relied on in-person recruitment events to showcase what it had to offer prospective students. However, when the pandemic hit, online learning meant it needed a new way to increase turnout and ensure enrollment numbers were met.

We chatted to them about how using text reminders to promote online events and two-way messaging to answer questions increased enrollment, with 10% more signups turning up to their events.

How to Choose the Best Texting Platform for Higher Ed

If you hadn’t guessed already, we are a higher education texting platform. We know what we’re talking about because we work with universities across the country to build stronger relationships with their students.

Of course, you’ll want to explore your options. The best things you can do when deciding on a texting platform is to read online reviews, compare prices, and understand exactly what you need to ensure you’re making full use of its services.

What You Should Be Looking For in a Higher Education Texting Platform

Here are some tips on what to look for as a higher education establishment:

  • Establish your needs before you dive in. Are you a small department that relies on two-way messaging? Do you want to reach the entire student body with mass texting? Maybe you want to do both.
  • If you’re a large department dealing with a lot of students, find a service that has a feature like teammates, allowing you to assign contacts to different people.
  • Some months are busier than others. If you think your usage will vary, check to see if your texting credits roll over (like us), or if you are assigned a concrete amount every month. Also check if you receive a discount for selecting an annual plan.
  • If you use other apps and software for your marketing and student outreach, you’ll want to know what your integration options are.

There are a lot of higher education texting platforms out there, so we’re confident you’ll find the right one for you (even if it isn’t us)! 

The good news is most services will allow you to try before you buy. We offer a 14-day free trial before you sign up, so you can confidently use our software knowing it’s right for your university.

The Wrap on Texting Higher Education Students

The post-pandemic higher education system is more reliant on technology than ever and we’ve never been more addicted to screens.

Enabling SMS at your university is one of the most effective ways to connect with your students, and finding a great higher ed texting platform will make it much easier.

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