There are a lot of misconceptions out there regarding texting with students. We already know that texting is the most ubiquitous way to reach them - in fact, 97% of college students use texting as their primary means of communication.1
We recently came across a white paper titled “Mythbusting Admissions: Where Prospects and Professionals Agree, and Disagree, on Enrollment Marketing, Messages, and Channels,” which promulgated several misconceptions about text messaging. For example, the white paper considers text messages to be a form of marketing spam - which they certainly can be, if done incorrectly. That is why it is so important to be strategic when sending students text messages!
“The fact that teens text their friends doesn’t mean they want spammy text messages from an admission office or even want to be contacted that way at all.”
Let’s be real - no one wants spam texts. Anything I get from a shortcode gets deleted immediately. If a message comes from a real ten-digit phone number, I open it.
There are so many ways to text but avoid looking like spam. Personalizing texts with a student’s name and providing timely, relevant information about the admissions process is a much more effective approach than a generic mass text. Additionally, it is important to send students messages with information we know they need. It opens a door connecting them to admissions officers - students feel more comfortable asking questions that they normally would be too intimidated to ask over email or face-to-face.
Another interesting misconception:
“Not surprisingly, although teens use their smartphones to keep in touch with friends, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they want an admission rep texting them.”
Fair enough. Does anyone really want a university to be reaching out to them on social media and cluttering their news feed? Or through text, if it markets to them? Emails are easy to ignore, so it’s no surprise students want schools to communicate with them that way. Less than 3% of students email every day.
If you ask students, “Hey, do you want a university to text you?” they might say no! They’ll automatically think of a school trying to advertise to them - exactly the type of message nobody wants to receive. If admissions offices text students from a messaging platform with messages designed to help them through the enrollment process, it feels personal and helpful. Most students don’t realize that the texts they receive aren’t coming directly from an advisor’s cell phone - and that’s the beauty of it.
It’s easy to make generalizations about texting - we want to be sure you have your facts straight. #mythbusted
1.Aug 2011, How the smartphone is changing college student mobile usage and advertising acceptance: A seven-year analysis by Michael Hanley