Signal Vine Blog: Text Me Back

Technology Traps: How to Avoid Them… And Spend Money Wisely

Posted by Stephanie Sickler Sweetland on October 30, 2015
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Does your organization continue to spend money on technology and programs that are outdated and no longer seem to work? Is your organization making investment choices based on criteria other than effectiveness or outcomes? These are technology traps organizations fall into over and over, allocating budget dollars for technology that doesn’t move the needle on outcomes and absorbs valuable budget dollars that could be better spent on high-impact interventions. To maximize your impact, it's critical for your organization to avoid these traps.

In communications, some of these traps are obvious (like email), while others are disguised as a solution that ultimately is not very effective at all. Here’s a quick overview of the technology traps education institutions fall into all the time when allocating budgets to student and parent communications: 

Email Messaging

Students aren’t reading their email. We hear this every day from customers. Despite snazzy HTML templates, emails about key deadlines, and even emails that include features like the student’s first name, students just aren't opening their email. If you’re messaging with students over several years, their email addresses will change often based on their university, job, and more.

One-Way Messaging and Alerts

Alerts are great for emergency situations when you need to quickly get a message out to thousands of students in less than a minute. Like one-way messaging, alerts lack the functionality to have students text back, so there’s no engagement. These are often sent from a short code, which tells students that a machine (rather than a person) is texting them. 

Mass Marketing

Most mass marketing companies are not familiar with educational regulations or standards like those outlined in FERPA and COPPA. They also utilize short codes to avoid being caught by mobile carrier spam filters - causing many savvy students to identify messages from short codes as spam, which they automatically delete.

Download Required

Mobile applications are only accessible if a student has a smartphone. Next, you need to require the student to download the application, you need them to approve notifications and nudges, and then you need them to actually use it. Some organizations even require an additional log-in and password for their app. Unless you’re requiring students to download your app, chances are they won’t be using it.

“Text Messaging” From Email

Some ‘texting’ platforms will send texts to email addresses for numbers (e.g. to avoid FCC-approved message delivery channels that incur fees. This is not only not an FCC-approved approach, but it's considered email spam by the federal government and is very vulnerable to the spam filters at Verizon, AT&T, and other mobile networks. 

Auto-Translation for Text

Auto-translation is not perfect and can produce terrible, unintended translations. As a best practice, we recommend that organizations create their own translations and have a staff member ready to answer incoming messages in the appropriate language. 

So how does an organization spend money wisely in communications?  

It’s important to start with outcomes and results, and ensure these investments are having the intended impact. The most effective communication technology in 2015 is interactive text messaging because it's universal, highly engaging, it flat out works - and it's incredibly cost-effective. 

In addition, research shows the impact is significant. With response rates as high as 60% on any given personalized text, and overall engagement as high as 90%, it enables a long list of use cases to be effective.  In the college-going process, we have seen increased matriculation rates of 11% and increased college persistence rates of 20%.

Signal Vine provides the “swiss army knife” for your texting needs - enabling organizations to scale personalized communications to make it an interactive and effective experience for staff and students alike. If you’d like to hear how Signal Vine can help you avoid technology traps and efficiently improve student outcomes, let us know! 

Topics: Tips & Tricks, Engagement, Research, Best Practices