Using a College SMS System to Boost University Enrollment
SMS texting in college admissions is a necessity. Research shows today’s students overwhelmingly prefer text messaging and often don’t respond to traditional phone or email marketing.
While enrollment and retention rates are critical metrics, higher education texting offers many other valuable benefits as well. A college SMS system enables educational institutions to reach their students more effectively.
College Students Prefer SMS Text Messaging
Text messaging dominates the modern communication landscape and nowhere is this more evident than on higher education campuses. You don’t have to be a genius to understand that times have changed. But the extent to which it has may surprise you.
Recent studies show that 95% of 18-24-year-olds own cell phones and 97% of those use text messaging extensively. On average, this demographic sends around 110 texts per day or more than 3,000 text messages per month. That makes them a highly captive audience.
These numbers are nearly double those for ages 25-34 and triple those of people 65 or older. Clear evidence that SMS text messaging has expanded rapidly, making it a critical part of higher education marketing.
It’s All About Connections
One of the most common frustrations from university administrators is that schools can’t reach students. They frequently won’t answer their phones and miss or simply don’t respond to emails. Beside social media apps, texting is the only way many students want to communicate. In fact, an estimated 97% of text messages are read in three minutes or less, making it not only an effective way to reach out but a timely one as well.
However, institutions shouldn’t abandon traditional forms of communication in favor of a college SMS system. They instead need to develop a holistic communications plan that lets the student choose their preferred method – text messaging, email, or phone.
Bottom line: higher education partners must meet enrollees where they are in order to thrive. Sometimes that means a phone call. Other times it means email. Yet, for the vast majority, texting reigns supreme.
College SMS System Improves Admissions and Retention
Admitting students is a complicated process requiring coordination between multiple departments such as admissions, registration, and financial aid. Unfortunately, when one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing, problems often arise: records are lost, deadlines go unnoticed, and students and their families pay the price.
That’s why a college SMS system is a high-value solution. Enterprise-grade platforms offer advanced options which allow seamless communication between all parties. By using a cloud-based communications platform, universities can be up and running the same day with no technology expenditures or development required.
Admissions and enrollment staff can effortlessly transition between mass notifications and engaging in one-on-one personalized texting dialog at scale between students and multiple departments.
University staff can all chime into the same texting thread with the student to resolve issues faster and ensure a smooth experience for all involved. By using a college SMS system, students can make a single request for help or information and any relevant department can respond quickly.
Once contact is made, departments can hand off tickets and keep entire case histories intact. Behind the scenes, transfers happen as needed while still maintaining a single conversation thread throughout. This means students get better, faster customer experiences without jumping through hoops or running the risk of falling through the cracks.
The latest developments in text messaging have created cloud-based, enterprise-grade platforms that can be immediately deployed with minimal effort and allow multiple staff members to engage in the same texting thread with current and prospective students.
This approach is a stark contrast to messages getting buried in a forgotten email account or phone calls being left unreturned. SMS text messaging is a high-value communication platform that offers incredible ROI for higher education institutions.
Benefits of Text Messaging in Higher Education
The benefits of including SMS text messaging are undeniable – both from the student perspective as well as the institution. Students get the assistance they need in near real-time communication, along with relevant reminders about upcoming events, due dates, or submission requirements.
Universities receive value from improved response rates, higher enrollment yield, stronger retention metrics, and overall student engagement.
Gentle reminders add value – a recent study showed that proactive messages in the form of gentle reminders are well-received and increase the timeliness of assignments. This can be extended to enrolment dates, admissions appointments, and financial deadlines, too.
The Impact of the Pandemic
While students are returning to campuses – either full-time or in a hybrid approach – perspectives have shifted with the pandemic. One thing that is here to stay is the ability to take a new approach to pass information without requiring in-person meetings.
Many higher education campuses are using a college SMS system to pass messages, particularly when students are still less likely to pass a bulletin board on their way to the campus library.
Texting improves admission and retention rates – Higher education institutions across the country are using text for outreach to current and prospective students. That includes the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, whose “Txt 4 Success” initiative gives students information and reminders about registration, tuition deadlines, and advice for completing FAFSA applications.
Reach Students Where They Are
Dr. Paul Hill, Chancellor of the HEPC, said texting programs align perfectly with students who are “usually glued to their phones.” Hill also noted that the study outcomes showed, “retention rates and attempted credit hours increased” for students who opted-in to the program.
The Chancellor pointed out that students were more comfortable using a medium so familiar to them (texting). Which made asking for help less intimidating and proved to be “an effective way to open a door for conversation.”
Texting in education saves time – another powerful benefit of incorporating SMS text messaging into university settings. Using an enterprise-grade SMS messaging platform allows you to integrate an existing CRM and pull student data automatically.
How to a Use College SMS System
With a college SMS system, higher education facilities can easily send students reminders about:
- Tuition Deadlines – to inform students of upcoming fees and deadlines before it’s too late. Preemptive text messages help students plan better and may reduce stress during busy periods.
- Incomplete Applications – including courtesy reminders for missing forms, transcripts, or other important documents. These notifications ensure applications are received (and processed) in a timely manner.
- Event Notifications – for registration drives, career fairs, open houses, or alumni events. Activities that students and parents might not be aware of otherwise.
SMS text messaging can also be used to quickly coordinate meeting times and schedule interviews with support staff. This eliminates the back and forth associated with traditional phone calls or email.
Text messaging improves student satisfaction – in multiple ways. Marketing departments can segment their messaging to ensure the right content goes to the proper audience. Engineering students don’t want to receive psychology department updates, and alumni shouldn’t be bothered with new student orientation schedules.
Access to someone’s SMS inbox is a privilege. That means proper segmentation – along with providing relevant updates – is key to earning and keeping student trust.
This trust can be easily lost if abused. University managers need enterprise-grade tools with powerful administrative controls to grant and restrict access, monitor communications and compliance, and easily deploy and train their reps.
Provide an Easier Way to Communicate
Besides the right message, an outstanding customer experience makes a great impression as well. Texting offers much higher response rates than phone or email.
Students get their questions answered quickly and easily using their favorite mobile device. And because students are comfortable and familiar with texting, it’s a breeze to keep the conversation going and build rapport.
Support staff can use these opportunities to share information about scholarships and grants, advising/mentoring services, or invite students and parents to networking events. In many cases, these are the messages they care about the most from higher education entities.
Enterprise-Grade SMS Texting Solutions Designed for Education
Text messaging is becoming a critical part of university outreach strategies. That means it’s important to choose the right partner for your SMS messaging platform. The right college SMS system provider should not only be affordable but built to scale and grow with you over time.
The platform you select should be designed with your needs in mind. It should easily integrate into your existing workflows while adding value and ROI, all without the need to completely reinvent your processes and approaches.
As more aspects of day-to-day work shift to a digital format, you may meet some skepticism or resistance, particularly from those in relevant teams who are less tech-savvy. A college SMS platform should be easy-to-use (and to learn) so that it is a help rather than a hindrance to your valuable teammates.
When researching SMS platforms, understand what experience the providers have with the needs of their university partners. Enterprise-grade solutions bring a wealth of features and benefits but should be designed with higher education in mind to ensure you have what you need.
Implement the Best
SMS texting in university and college admissions is a high-leverage marketing channel that produces incredible ROI. Universities adopting a college SMS system report more engagement, increased enrollment yield, higher retention rates, and better customer satisfaction. Not to mention huge time savings and enhanced productivity amongst staff.
Of course, in order to be effective, higher education texting must be done right.
Enterprise-grade solutions like TrueDialog make the process easy. Our five-star rated, scalable SMS messaging platform is built from the ground up for higher education managers. We are the cloud experts in SMS text messaging technology and offer more features than the competition – for about half the price.
Unlike other SMS messaging products, TrueDialog assigns a dedicated, company-owned text number to each individual rep. Bypassing the headache of shared SMS inboxes or the unprofessional use of personal cell numbers.
- FREE multi-channel campus alert – provides an emergency alert notification system at no extra charge. Send mass notifications simultaneously via SMS text, voice, email, or social media directly from within your dashboard.
- CRM integration – add SMS text messaging capability to your existing CRM database with just a few clicks. Integrations include Salesforce, Marketo, Microsoft Dynamics, CampusNexus, Oracle and a host of other popular options.
To learn more about these and our other unique SMS texting benefits, visit our website.