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Keeping Students Enrolled in College – Texting Tips

Plagued by Summer Melt? It’s time to re-vamp your student communications strategy…

It’s no surprise that the transition from high school to college is full of obstacles and unknowns. But what may come as a surprise is that the summer prior is the most significant period in the college-intending student’s journey, and it is often the most overlooked.

As many as one in five high school graduates who are enrolled in college “melt” during the summer months and don’t arrive on campus in the fall. If you’ve found that your university has been plagued the summer melt, read our blog post, ““Summer Melt”: How to Keep Students Enrolled in College.”

You’ll learn:

  • The top “melting factors” including financial burdens, anxiety, and lack of support
  • Tips for keeping students “cool” during the summer
  • The secret to using SMS to boost enrollment rates

To read the blog post, ““Summer Melt”: How to Keep Students Enrolled in College,” click here.

Best Practices, Education, Mobile Solutions, SMS Campaigns, Universities and Colleges

Emergency Preparedness for Universities – Texting Tips

How SMS Can Assist in the Safety of Students and Staff During a Large Scale Disaster

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the threat of Hurricane Irma has focused the attention of colleges and universities throughout the east coast.

Although the exact track of Irma remains uncertain, the importance of preparing an SMS/Text strategy for a large scale disaster cannot be overstated.

Here’s why:

Following large scale disasters, power and cell coverage is often compromised. Because of limited cellular bandwidth, SMS/Text will become the default form of communications. If your university is left with SMS as your only source of communication, will you be able to effectively share updates and ensure the safety of your students and staff?

Here are a few suggestions to help your university prepare:

  1. Send Text Preparedness Tips: Help your students and staff prepare by texting this Emergency Preparedness Checklist from Ready.gov.
  2. Execute Your Crisis Communications Strategy: Proactively send texts to all students, employees, and critical vendors/suppliers, to share news (such as school closings and evacuations) before, during and after the storm.
  3. Contact Reminders: Restate important phone numbers and departments on campus, as well as emergency contact information.

For more up-to-date information on Hurricane Irma, including the storm’s status, warnings and potential impact timing, click here.

Best Practices, Education, Emergency Preparedness, Hurricane, Mobile Solutions, Preparedness, SMS Campaigns, Universities and Colleges

SMS Couponing for Back-To-School Season – Texting Tips

Preparing for the 2nd Busiest Shopping Season of the Year

As beach days give way to school bells, retailers are gearing-up for the second busiest shopping period of the year. Back-to-school season offers a prime opportunity for organizations to connect with customers via SMS to offer competitive sales and drum-up revenue.

If you haven’t thought about your SMS marketing strategy for back-to-school season just yet, you’re in luck. Here are a few tips to consider before you start sending your mobile coupons:

  1. Consider your audience: To make the most of your campaign, develop targeted campaigns for the various audiences you may be catering to. For example, your message should be tailored differently for parents vs. teenagers vs. college students.
  2. Interact with your audience: Try sending out a quick 1-question dialog with multiple choice answers to determine which coupon your customer wants most, or what is on the top of their back-to-school list. This enables you to deliver a highly targeted offer to your customer, as well as learn more about their preferences/behaviors.
  3. Develop a referral program: Consider how to best reward your loyal customers who pass along your SMS coupons to their friends. Savvy marketers are capitalizing on this practice by targeting teenagers and young adults who are most inclined to “share” their latest purchases with friends.

To learn more, check out our blog post, “Reducing Coupon Fraud with SMS”.

Back-to-School Shopping, Best Practices, Mobile Coupons, Mobile Solutions, SMS Campaigns, SMS Retail

Reducing Coupon Fraud With SMS

Coupon promotions have been a staple for businesses of all sizes. They have proven themselves to attract customers, increase sales and help reach organizational goals. But what may come as a surprise for many is that couponing is not without its rules and regulations. A major issue that continues to plague coupon advertising (even those delivered by SMS) is coupon fraud.

What Are Mobile Coupons?

Mobile coupons are digital coupons that are received and redeemed with a mobile device. These coupons are typically redeemed either by a code directly in the text itself or, a QR/bar code on a landing page. Despite their simplistic nature, mobile coupons have been very successful and have had a massive impact for a variety of industries. According to Juniper Research, 45% of mobile users will use mobile coupons this year with mobile coupon’s global usage projected to surpass 1 billion by 2019.

Types of Coupon Fraud

Coupon fraud takes on many different forms. Of course there are instances of consumers intentionally misusing coupons, manipulating offers, and even selling coupons. But one of the most common practices of coupon fraud is posting/sharing, or redeeming, codes on the increasingly popular coupon sharing sites, as well as social media. Coupons that are intended for one person to use are being released and repurposed by many. Even store employees are getting into trouble by using previously redeemed coupons for a customer without one. Often times, people don’t even realize they are committing a crime, but coupon fraud is very serious and a punishable offense.

Reducing Coupon Fraud

How can businesses go about protecting themselves from fraud? To explain this concept, let’s look at a recent example that we had here at True Dialog…

A quick service restaurant wanted to have a targeted coupon promotion for a particular region of their restaurants. However, incorporating a 3rd party coupon into their POS system wasn’t a feasible option. This meant that coupons would have to be entered manually which would increase the chances of both human error and coupon fraud. By using True Dialog’s Coupon Campaign builder, landing pages were automatically created that allowed end-users to both receive coupons by texting in a keyword to a short code. These coupons were then redeemed at participating stores. Since these coupons were single use only and were being redeemed at the register, any chances of customers posting on coupon sharing sites were eliminated which allowed franchises to control market spend.

Here are a few best practices when it comes to managing coupon liability:

  1. Create Single-Use Codes – For each unique device that is offered a coupon, ensure a different redemption code will be sent and the code will become invalid as soon as it’s redeemed.
  2. Use Unique URLs – Similar to creating different coupon codes, ensure your platform automatically generates unique URLs that cannot be shared from one user to another (even if copied and pasted).
  3. Set Expiration Dates – As a best practice, coupon campaigns should always have a start and end date. To ensure old coupon codes aren’t still circulating, have them expire as soon as the campaign ends.
  4. Use Personalized Messaging – It’s always a good idea to personalize your SMS messaging, but it’s even more so important when presenting coupon offers.
  5. Avoid Distributing Printed Coupons – Unlike mobile coupons, traditional methods for clearing paper coupons cannot be done instantaneously. Also, paper coupons are more susceptible to redistributing and counterfeiting.

Marketing Integration, Mobile Campaigns, Mobile Coupons, mobile CRM

Text Message Updates for Alumni – Texting Tips

How to Keep Your Alumni Engaged After Graduation

Another graduation season is behind us, leaving institutions with a new job of building lasting relationships with their alumni. But with so many graduates going in different directions after earning their degrees, keeping a graduating class ‘together’ is challenging.

Fortunately, SMS provides not only simplicity, but an overall better way to keep up with alumni communications.

For inspiration on how to use SMS to engage with Alumni, read our blog post, “Text Message Updates for Alumni.”

Suggestions include:

  • Alumni event updates
  • Student and alumni news
  • Updating alumni information

Click here to read the full blog post, “Text Message Updates for Alumni.”

Best Practices, Education, Mobile Solutions, SMS Campaigns, Universities and Colleges

3 Ways to Re-Engage Subscribers During the Summer Slowdown – Texting Tips

Warm-up your Subscribers This Summer

It’s that time of the year that many of us are facing the summer slowdown…

Between the sunshine and lighter schedules, it’s natural to fall out of the swing of things around the office. Similarly, it’s natural for subscribers to unplug and become less engaged.

If you’re searching for some inspiration to keep your customers engaged this season, here are a few quick and easy ideas.

  1. Host a party: Everyone loves their share of summertime parties. Why not figuratively host your own by having a day of specials and sales. It seemed to work pretty well for Amazon. In fact, “Amazon Prime Day” was their biggest sales day in company history.
  2. Plan a contest to increase opt-ins: There’s nothing like keeping your subscribers engaged by having them actively compete for something. Choose a summer theme and create a referral campaign around it.
  3. Recommend activities: One of the best ways to gain happy customers/subscribers is to be a reliable source of information for them. Try switching gears by suggesting a few summertime activities for them to indulge in, tips to achieve their goals by fall, or ways to stay on track during the summer slowdown. Text your subscribers an article like this one: “6 Ways to Stay Motivated at Work this Summer.”

Best Practices, Company Success, Mobile Solutions, SMS Campaigns, SMS Marketing

Text Message Updates for Alumni

As you know, higher education institutions around the world are using text message updates to stay in communication with students, parents, and graduates. Alumni associations have quickly learned that the best way to stay connected is by strategically integrating text/SMS opt-in forms into their processes.

Here are a couple of ideas and real world examples of effective alumni SMS campaigns.

Alumni Event Updates

Many universities are turning to text message updates to announce upcoming events for their alumni near and far. Events include everything from reunions, to fundraising events. SMS has been an effective solution for not only sending invitations, but also gathering key data from alumni to deliver better events. SMS allows your association to collect votes on the top venues for hosting events, ask about topics for workshops, and collect RSVPs for events too.

Alumni Giving

Alumni choose to give back to their university for a number of reasons. Whether they want to show appreciation for their education, help someone else have a similar experience, or just want to stay connected, alumni are among some of the most generous donors. And once a new class passes graduation, an immediate goal for the university is to quickly get graduates into the habit of giving back. A practical way to build lasting relationships and sustain generosity is to stay in touch with alumni via SMS.  Even for graduates who aren’t willing to make a donation, SMS provides an outlet to ask them to support the school in other ways (such as volunteer opportunities).

Student and Alumni News

More than just event announcements are being sent via text, institutions are using SMS to keep those on and off campus up to date about what’s happening. Schools like the University of Southern Florida invite anyone – students, alumni, and even sports fans – to sign up for the latest USF news. If done really well, this program could even segment news updates so that contacts in the SMS database are only receiving news most pertinent to their interests.

You can segment text message updates with a dialog SMS campaign. Rather than using a basic SMS protocol that replies to the contact with a simple, “Thanks for opting in and stay tuned…,” you can ask a question. Try using  multiple choice question such as, “What kinds of university updates would you like to receive? Sports, Events, Student News, Alumni News, All.” As people reply with their choice, their account in your SMS database will be updated with that preference so you know what information to send to them.

Miami University aims to send only the most relevant news to their alumni by offering chapter-specific updates. When you visit their text message sign-up page, the sign-up form offers you the option to choose a specific alumni chapter to receive text message updates.

Updating Alumni Information

As we all know, people move and change jobs on a fairly frequent basis. Mobile numbers are one of the few contact data points that rarely change, making SMS communications vital.

Sometimes we miss the opportunity to gather that mobile phone number while people are still students. Don’t let this opportunity slip by. Lay a foundation today and start communication with students via text. It’ll payoff for years to come.

Curious how mobile technology can improve communications in your school? Learn More
 

Mobile Solutions, Universities and Colleges

Simplify Your SMS Strategy This Summer – Texting Tips

Even Your SMS Strategy Can Be Stress-Free This Summer

Summer has officially welcomed itself in last week. And with the start of this stress-free season, now is the perfect time to take a look at starting or simplifying your SMS strategy.

Why not put some of that extra energy you may be feeling from the Summer Solstice to use? Click here to learn a few quick and easy ways to improve your approach.

You’ll learn:

  • Practical ways to grow your community
  • How to develop a content strategy
  • What to prioritize in your messaging

Best Practices, Company Success, Mobile Solutions, SMS Campaigns, SMS Marketing

How to Develop a Successful (and Stress-Free) SMS Strategy

There are over 6 billion texts sent via Americans every day, making text messaging the most prevalent form of communication, according to Gallup.  It’s no wonder organizations are jumping on board to use it as another platform to engage with their audience.  But for most of us, the thought of developing a strategy to start texting is just overwhelming.

In an effort to make this subject a bit easier to approach, we’ve compiled a list of a few quick and easy steps that will help get your organization well on its way!

Step 1 – Build Your List

One of the easiest ways to get people to subscribe to your list is to give them a chance to do so at every point of contact.

Brainstorm of all the places you can add your opt-in form.  For example, places like your website, social media accounts, and signature line are great places to start.  Also, train your staff to share the benefits of opting-in with your customers/clients/ network.

Step 2 – Segment Your List

When someone subscribes to your list, be sure to inquire as to how often they’d like to receive messages, and what type of information they want.  Then place them into categories based on these requests.

Segmenting your list will help ensure your audience is getting information that is most useful and relevant to them.  It could mean the difference between being a helpful, educational source, verses being ignored.

Step 3 – Learn Your Subscriber

After you’ve segmented your list based on preferences, take it one step further by personalizing your content.  Overtime, you may be able to analyze demographics, purchase history, and behavioral patterns to tailor your message even further.

Remember, being personable goes a long way when it comes to building your following.  Avoid using robotic and generic language.  Response rates are higher when the message feels as though it is addressed directly to the recipient.

Step 4 – Develop Short and Sweet Messages

With traditional SMS messages, you only have 160 characters to express yourself.  However, the faster you’re able to get to the point of your message, the better.

Before hitting “Send”, reread your message and eliminate any filler words and phrases.  Only include information that is most relevant, and communicate it in plain English.  Avoid capitalizing and abbreviating words, as well as using emoticons.  Keep it simple!

Step 5 – Include Calls-to-Action

The top priority of your SMS marketing program should be to have subscribers that are engaged and interact with the messages you send.  That’s why it’s important to include a clear call-to-action in your message.

If the goal of your message is to encourage your audience to take part in something, spell it out for them.  Make sure to not bury the objective in the message, or add too much fluff.  Also, use “buttons” whenever possible, such as “Click Here.” “Buy Now.” “More Info.”.

Best Practices, Company Success, Mobile Solutions, SMS Campaigns, SMS Marketing

Rules, Regulations and Best Practices – Texting Tips

Rules are Rules! What to Know Before You Text

If you’re wondering whether it’s actually legal to text as an organization, you’re not alone. In fact, the #1 reason why organizations are hesitant to send texts is because they’re unsure of the legality.

In an effort to make the topic easier to digest, we’ve asked communications attorney and TCPA expert, Adam Bowser, to host a webinar, “Texting – Higher Ed Regulations & Best Practices”.

During this encore presentation on June 21st at 2PM ET, Adam will cover texting rules and regulations, and share practical tips for texting your contacts.

You’ll learn:

  • The #1 question you should ask yourself before hitting “Send”
  • The 4 legal categories approved for texting
  • When you need permission to text and when you don’t

Click here to learn more and register for TrueDialog’s webinar: Texting – Higher Ed Regulations & Best Practices.

Best Practices, Education, Mobile Solutions, SMS Campaigns, Universities and Colleges

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