We've had the opportunity to work closely with customers as they develop and tweak their text messaging programs to be as effective as possible, and we've learned quite a bit about what works and what doesn't. The difference of literally one word can double the response rate on a message, which is hard to believe until you actually see it in practice. At the heart of what we've learned is that every message needs to be relevant and personalized, and better yet it should be timely and prompt a call to action! That's a lot to fit into 160 characters, but it's easily done once you get the hang of it.Here's what we've learned: mass amounts of general information can overwhelm students. We have worked with our customers to develop an overview of the key elements of an effective message - what we call the anatomy of a personalized text.
Following these principles will maximize the engagement of your students and ultimately drive the best outcomes for your program:
Using the student's name, as well as other personal information such as the school/program name and advisor name, is key - especially in the first message. It lets the student know that the message is important to them as an individual, and that it's not a generic message. This will immediately grab their attention. The more personalized the message, the higher the response rate will be.
The content of the message should be relevant to the particular recipient's needs. Effective programs filter messages, sending content only to students who meet certain criteria that make the message relevant to them. We discourage sending out mass texts where everyone receives the same message, as students become less engaged if they receive information that doesn’t apply to them.
Messages that require action should be sent out at the right time. If your text is a reminder about an event, send the message a day or two before. If you're texting about a task that needs to be completed, give the student ample time to complete the task, but don't send it too far in advance so that the student can say "I will do it later" and then forget by the time that the deadline approaches.
4. Call to Action
Engaging texts include “calls to action” - these are a next step that will nudge students to take an action which moves the process forward. A call to action can be a link directing them to complete a task, directing them to a resource, or asking them a question where they will provide their advisor with more information.