No matter how large or small, colleges often have a hard time disseminating information, news, and alerts to faculty, staff, students, and parents. Flyers, posts on school websites, social media accounts, and even blast emails aren’t enough anymore. Colleges need to take a strategy out of the business marketing playbook and use SMS text marketing. With six times the engagement of email, text marketing gives institutions the opportunity to interact with their target audience at a moment’s notice.
Not only does 98 percent of the population in the United States have access to a mobile device capable of sending and receiving SMS messages, but people with mobile devices are text-obsessed and check their messages constantly.
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According to a recent report, over half of all smartphone owners check their phones at least five times per hour, or over 120 times per 24 waking hours. This ensures text messages sent by colleges will be seen and opened, making them more top-of-mind than any other alert system currently in place.
Schools can use SMS text marketing in a variety of ways, including the following:
Emergency alert systems
Colleges spend thousands of dollars developing security protocols for everything from an active on-campus shooter to severe weather. When emergency situations occur, everyone needs to be aware of these protocols, plans, and next steps. And everyone on campus needs to be on the same page–no matter where they’re located.
An SMS notification system is the easiest way to send and receive alerts. In emergency situations, time is of the essence. Administrators need the ability to send blasts to all audiences in seconds and engage in two-way communication. Text messages also have a much higher chance of being read immediately by those who receive them. According to research done by Morgan Stanley, 91 percent of Americans keep their mobile devices within arm’s length at all times. Texting is reliable, quick, and can save people from potentially dangerous situations.
SMS can also be used post-emergency to send necessary all-clear information, or even receive messages from someone who may be actively in need.
Segmenting on-campus groups
SMS allows senders to specify which group or groups to which they would like to send a message, allowing college administrators to send targeted news, updates, and reminders. The most efficient way to accomplish this is through a keyword opt in. For example, students can text their class number to a university-specific phone number and then receive updates on class cancellations, class resources, and assignment reminders.
Having SMS alerts sent to a specific class, major, or group ensures recipients are more quickly aware because, unlike email, texts are nearly always checked. Additionally, the average response time for a legitimate email is about 90 minutes, compared to 90 seconds for a text message. SMS also offers better two-way communication between a professor or administrator and a student, and automatic responses can be set up as well, so messages never go unattended – even on the weekends.
Not all university stakeholders are on campus, so SMS is a great way to send off-campus alerts to parents, alumni, and donors. Instead of alumni newsletters being sent in the mail or via email, it can be sent in one simple text. Colleges save time and money eliminating printing and postage, while simultaneously guaranteeing better engagement.
It’s also a great, efficient way to receive donations. With people using mobile devices to make payments more than ever, texting creates a simpler process for the school that’s less intrusive than a phone call. Alumni, students, and parents can spread fundraising messages even further by simply forwarding the text to family and friends. If colleges have fundraisers or events for alumni, using the opt-in feature allows for updates and reminders.
SMS texting gives colleges the opportunity to communicate with important community stakeholders. It’s efficient and effective, and messages rarely go unnoticed compared to more traditional mediums. Because recent reports suggest we’re text obsessed in today’s mobile-focused culture, colleges need to meet students, parents, and professors where they are so alerts and campus news don’t go unnoticed.