college students siting with a computer and a mobile

Your Key to Outreach: Mass Text Messaging for Universities

It’s not always easy to reach young people these days. Attention spans are short and it seems like they always have their eyes on their phone. While that may be bad news for parents and even first dates, it’s great news for universities.

Communication isn’t solely about what you want to say. It’s also about getting the message across in a way that it will be received. And higher education institutions have a lot to say to their current and prospective students.

Classrooms are returning to in-person lectures but hybrid settings are still popular across the country. When you can’t rely on bulletin boards to share the message, what do you do? Mass text messaging for universities is your key to outreach.

Email vs. Text

Email inboxes are often crowded with promotions and catchy subject lines to tempt recipients into opening them. Emails have their place, of course, and we don’t suggest you completely scratch them from your marketing calendar. But emails aren’t always effective in certain situations, particularly with college-aged students.

Emails have an average open rate of about 17% and a click-through rate of about 10%. That’s a lot of time and effort invested without a guaranteed payoff.

An advantage of email over text is that you can include all of the information in the message itself – within reason, of course. No one reads an email with an entire diatribe written, but you can share a wealth of information in the body of one mail. You can also encrypt sensitive information in emails in a way you aren’t able to in texts.

SMS has an astronomical 98% open rate, and 60% of Americans read a text within 1-5 minutes of receiving it. A quick text can direct recipients to a secure portal to provide their information and can serve as a quick – and urgent – reminder to submit details you’re waiting on.

Related: SMS Marketing for a New Generation

Ways to Use Mass Text Messaging for Universities

SMS isn’t just for sending shopping lists or killing time anymore. They’re now a powerful tool for marketing and professional communications. SMS texts allow you to reach out to students easily in a way that’s measurable, trackable, and effective.

There are myriad ways you may use mass text messaging for universities with opportunities to connect and share information in ways that are relevant to you – and your faculty, students, and their parents. We’ll detail a few of the ways you can use SMS to communicate, to help get the wheels turning.


Higher education institutions can use SMS to reach prospective students for admissions. SMS services can be leveraged for recruitment and for sending status updates to applicants. These messages can also distribute admission confirmation to students.

Use mass text messaging for universities to send texts with embedded links, initiating a call to action for prospective students. These links can direct subscribers to various departments or provide useful information. SMS can also be used by your admissions department to streamline workflows and provide tuition payment and enrollment reminders.


Not limited to admissions and enrollments, reminders can be distributed for other useful deadlines and events. Use mass text messaging for universities to send reminders of submission deadlines to add value to your students.

SMS can also be used to offer other useful reminders such as admissions and course registration deadlines, upcoming tests, payment due dates, and other events. SMS triggers can also be set to alert parents, guardians, or other family relations of upcoming events relevant to them.

Event Notifications

Mass text messaging for universities can help increase event attendance. You can craft SMS messages to extend invitations to events such as sporting events, volunteer opportunities, career fairs, and more.

Include links for sign-ups where relevant. Once students have signed up to attend an event, you can distribute messages to remind them closer to the date as well as send relevant information such as time, location, requirements, and more.

Urgent Alerts

The need for a centralized and reliable distribution method for emergency alerts has become apparent in recent times. With information being so frequently outdated and updated during the pandemic, it’s crucial to have a clear way to share current status updates with students.

Extreme weather, security or crime alerts, or even location changes for lectures can all be effectively sent using mass text messaging for universities.

Related: Best Practices for Your University SMS Urgent Alerts


The offer of academic support must also evolve with the times. Mass text messaging for universities can be used to extend the offer of academic services to students. Tutors can use SMS to send notifications of workshops and courses as well as career options, class cancelations, and further information on majors.

SMS can also provide useful homework information, exam dates, and library and study area hour extensions which may be issued during finals.

Financial Aid Information

This could fit into a few categories but as it’s so specific – and common – we thought we’d give it its own section.

Financial aid often has deadlines all its own, which find their place amongst institutional calendars. Distribution of financial aid updates is crucial to ensure students don’t miss their deadlines and are able to take advantage of the air available to them. You don’t want your students missing out on FAFSA opportunities because they were too bogged down with their to-do list and deadlines slipped their mind.

Moreover, financial aid can be confusing for students looking to understand and leverage these options. For example, what happens when a student registers for a course that doesn’t count toward their degree plan? They may not understand the implications of that, particularly around payment for the course itself and the trade-off involved around credit hours and graduation trajectory.

Text messaging for universities can help you distribute this information to your students to help demystify the financial aid submission process, ensure the deadlines are clear and provide them with resources and contacts to support with any further questions they may have.

Interaction with Students

The use of mass text messaging for universities can also increase interaction with and encourage participation from students. Use SMS to facilitate voting on campus, distribute satisfaction surveys, invite participation in contests, and solicit feedback.

Surveys are a crucial way to gauge student satisfaction and experience in daily life. RSVP tactics help schools and event organizers accurately estimate and prepare for student attendance at lectures, functions, events, and more.

Benefits of SMS for Universities

We’ve gone over some ways that mass text messaging for universities can be used to reach current and prospective students. With all of these examples, you’re adding value to your students by providing them with timely information in a direct and personal way.

This of course adds value to your institution as supporting students makes life and workflows all the better. But what are some direct benefits of mass text messaging for universities for the schools themselves?

Text Messages are Cost-Effective

Traditional marketing campaigns are costly endeavors. The financial commitment for print media, creation of visual content, PPC and social adverts, and more really adds up. Mass text messaging for universities won’t negate the need for your existing marketing plan entirely, of course, but it will reduce the burden.

Messages can be created and distributed via an SMS platform swiftly and easily, saving time, money, and effort involved. SMS clickthrough and conversion rates are high when compared to email marketing campaigns.

They’re Measurable

Text messages are sent from a professional SMS platform. This means your campaigns are trackable, monitorable, and measurable. You can follow the delivery and click rate of your text messages easily and clearly.

They’re Direct and Personal

Virtually every university student owns a mobile phone these days. Even those eschewing smartphones to get back to basics are able to receive SMS messages. Text messages arrive directly in the inbox of your recipients. This gives them a sense of urgency and presence that email doesn’t offer.

SMS platforms also allow you to segment your audience, making mass text messaging for universities a customizable solution. You can integrate your CRM into your SMS platform allowing you to truly personalize your message distribution for maximum effect.


SMS marketing is popular amongst businesses and an effective way to reach their current and prospective clientele. When you’re ready to get started with mass text messaging for universities, you need a platform provider that is familiar with the unique needs of higher education.

TrueDialog understands what universities and their students need to hear. We can help you craft and distribute messages that are relevant and timely, so you can add value for your students while increasing enrollment, retention, and engagement.


Disclaimer: Please note that this advice is for informational purposes only and is neither intended as nor should be substituted for consultation with appropriate legal counsel and/or your organization’s regulatory compliance team.