Do Students Know What’s Happening on Campus this Year? Leverage SMS Messaging for Outbound Communications that Engages and Informs

sms communications for students

Do Students Know What’s Happening on Campus this Year?

How to Leverage SMS Messaging for Outbound Communications that Engages and Informs.

Are you prepared to stay connected with your students this semester?

With all the uncertainty the world has faced in the past year and a half, now more than ever it is important to stay connected with each other and stay informed. Post pandemic, most students have returned to campus in full capacity or part. Staying connected and in communication with students and staff is simply the proactive way to keep everyone informed should new policies, guidelines, or announcements need to be shared by your institution.

One of the easiest ways to make sure important information gets across in a timely manner is through the use of SMS messaging. The more students who choose to opt-in to SMS messaging the more unified and informed your campus will be.

Here is why leveraging SMS communications with your students and staff is the most effective way to keep your campus informed and engaged.

Traditional Communication Channels are No Longer Enough

Students have become accustomed to getting most of their information from their mobile devices, so it is crucial for you to take advantage of this platform and optimize engagement with them this way. 

Traditional print communications like posters, flyers  and leave behind cards still have a place on campus, but they lose their reach in the post-pandemic era where many students may still be attending some or all of their classes online. 

You probably are already using email and social media to connect with students. However important updates are often overlooked due to the amount of ‘noise’ on these channels.  Now is the time to add text messaging as an additional communications channel. According to 99 Firms, the average open rate for text message marketing campaigns is 98%, compared to a 20% open rate for email marketing campaigns. 

The bottom line is if you want to reach and engage your students and staff, add text messaging to your communications options!

Why SMS is More Effective Than Other Forms of Communication.

SMS messaging has many benefits that its other counterparts like social media and email don’t do as well. SMS messaging provides the most direct line of communication with the students. Period. Students and staff get immediately notified in the simplest and easiest way to access — and potentially respond. It is estimated that people receive over 130 business emails per day and most are unread or ignored. But SMS marketing statistics overall blow email marketing out of the water:

    • 3.8 billion is the number of people that own smartphones in 2021.
    • 75% of clients want to receive offers via SMS.
    • SMS has a 98% open rate compared to email marketing.
    • 60% of customers read texts within 1-5 minutes after receiving them.
    • As of 2021, 67 million Americans redeem coupons via mobile phones.

Key takeaways from SMS messaging: It’s the most direct method of communication. Messages are read within minutes, if not seconds. Everyone with a smartphone and messaging capabilities can get access to them. 

Another obvious reason for choosing this kind of communication tool is the speed factor. Some information is more timely than others, urgent health or safety alerts being more critical. Having a tool that can create a direct and fast chain of communication between the university and students is in the best interest of everyone. 

Best Practices for Incorporating SMS Messaging on Campus

To successfully roll out an effective text messaging program for your institution, you will want to follow best practices to ensure a positive user experience and compliance.

  1. Get permission. Just because you have all of your student’s and staff’s cell phone numbers, you can’t just go ahead and text them. You must first get their permission. You can do this through the complementary communication channels we previously talked about. They can text a keyword to join a “mobile club”. You can email them an invitation to opt-in. You can leave print pieces around campus with a QR code that allows them to opt into SMS communications. And you can create a social media campaign inviting students to join a “mobile club”.
  2. Make it possible to opt out. Just like you can unsubscribe from emails, make it easy to opt-out of receiving text messages by always providing the ability to do so in the text messages they receive. 
  3. Keep SMS communications relevant. Don’t over text your students and staff. Use SMS for only the most important of communications to ensure they don’t opt-out and can be reached by your institution when you most need to reach them. Any more than 1 to 2 texts per week is bordering on too many.
  4. Personalize their experience. To personalize their SMS communications, let them further opt-in to the specific departments and services they choose. Do they want main campus announcements? How about dining updates? Sporting events? Not everyone is going to want updates about everything, so provide options to personalize communication preferences.

Examples of SMS Communications to Make Available to Students and Staff

General Campus Announcements

 Communicate with your students about everything from school closures and holiday reminders to updated CDC guidelines and lifted restrictions. 

Events and Student Activities

Now that students have the opportunity to interact with each other again after the pandemic, events and student activities are a great way for them to engage and stay connected with their peers.

Urgent Alerts

Urgent alerts would arguably be the most important feature of the SMS messaging channels on a university campus. By sending quick alerts to students and staff about emergencies you could be saving them from a possible threat to their safety or well-being. 

Special Offers and Opportunities 

According to 99 Firms, 79% of smartphone users make their shopping decisions based on SMS opt-in or similar mobile device services. Get your students and staff excited and generate interest (and more revenue!) in special offers on campus from sales on books to promotions at your Commons coffee cart to special events they can register to. 

Why MarketIT from Touchwork

Finding the right SMS messaging tool is important for your campus and the success of your communication system. Touchwork has a solution for you. MarketIT is an outbound marketing solution that allows you to do all of the above and is completely customizable to fit your university. 

The feature allows you to not only send personalized SMS messages to customized groups you create, but it also gives you the option to schedule the messages ahead of time and include links, GIFS, videos, and audio for more user engagement. Touchwork provides a user-friendly experience that benefits both the sender and the receiver of SMS messaging. 

    • Send communications quickly and easily
    • Create as many groups/categories to issue messages out from (i.e. General Announcements, Dining, Parking, etc.)
    • Maintain accurate records of all messages sent and received, secured in an online portal
    • Combine with your other Touchwork solutions and access via the same easy-to-access dashboard

Students and staff are back on campus. Make their experience the best one yet with continued communication and increased responsiveness.

To learn more about MarketIT or schedule a demo with Touchwork, contact us here.

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About the author

Johann Leitner is the founder and president of Touchwork, a marketing management software company.