Students change rapidly in terms of the lives they lead, the technology they engage with and the way they process information, so it stands to reason that marketing and communications directed at students has to change too. Schools and universities simply can’t rely on print marketing to get out messages in a world where young people get the majority of their information online or on their phones. Even then, keeping up with social media trends is a hectic and exhausting game for many marketers, so much so that it’s become an industry unto itself.
SMS, however, is still managing to thread the line between print and social media as a relevant medium that is consistent, reliable and easy to take advantage of. If you work at a university or school that has yet to implement an SMS communications strategy, you are missing out on a cost-efficient direct line to deliver messages to students.
Why Use SMS?
SMS are a beneficial branch of marketing and communications for any school or university. Unlike email, it has a personal touch that reaches directly to the students, making it more likely your message will be both seen and read. It’s also just as measurable as email marketing, providing similar statistics on click rate and engagement. Plus, it’s cheaper than many other forms of mass marketing, so you’re getting your message out for less.
If you’re interested in using SMS for your marketing and communications, here are some ideas on how it’s particularly relevant to modern campus life.
Students and staff are most likely to have their phones on them at all times, so SMS messaging is a reliable way to contact students with emergency information in a timely and efficient way. In fact, a study showed that 91% of Americans keep their mobile devices within arms reach at all times. When there is an active emergency it is the responsibility of the institution and its security services to notify all students in the affected area, and SMS messaging can often reach students when email or social media cannot.
SMS messaging services can be set up to easily send off alerts regarding emergency situations without losing precious time. Different categories can be pre-set (such as crime or severe weather warnings) and sent en masse to all phone numbers on file. Some alerts might be localised in one area, in which case it is important you include that information in the alert so that recipients know whether they are directly affected and what action to take.
A more welcome SMS to receive is one alerting students of campus events. SMS messaging is a good way to increase awareness of talks, sporting events or festivals amongst students on campus. Not only does this build event awareness, but it also fosters campus community feeling.
By connecting your SMS functionality to your student registers you can also use SMS alerts targeted to specific students or groups of students. This can come in useful for changes in classroom allocation and assignment or lecture reminder messages. Use keyword-specific opt in to allow students to manage SMS notifications themselves, ensuring they receive the most relevant information for them.
Your SMS reach doesn’t have to stop at the border of your campus. In fact, one of the advantages of an SMS marketing strategy is being able to reach stakeholders and interested parties wherever they are. Institutions can use SMS marketing to stay in contact with alumni, parents of students or potential donors.
Donations and funding are one of the most popular initiatives to push through SMS marketing. A message can be a softer way to contact potential donors without the disruption of a phone call, and can include links to donation drives for easy access. Recipients can opt in and out of future updates easily, making updating outreach databases a lot easier.
Interacting with students is often a lot more successful through SMS than over the phone, as it represents a more casual, easy-access mode of communication that doesn’t disrupt the student’s day. That’s what makes this method of communication ideal for contacting students about satisfaction surveys and feedback.
Beatrix Potter works as an educator at Marketing assignment writing service. Beatrix produces content for teachers and university staff and writes about education and schools.