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Originally Posted On: https://www.oho.com/blog/8-higher-education-texting-platforms-reach-prospective-students
We’ve rounded up the most popular SMS texting platforms for enrollment management to keep prospective students on track during the admissions process by delivering quick reminders and relevant messaging with greater response rates.
College students and prospective attendees spend an average of 94 minutes a day texting, making it their preferred method of communication over phone or email. Research reveals that prospective students want to be reminded of next steps and assisted throughout their enrollment process. A recent study by LeadSquared found 77% of students surveyed indicated that they want relevant information from colleges via text. So if text messaging isn’t already part of your school’s enrollment marketing plan, there’s a strong argument to be made that it should be.
Email vs. Text Messages
Unlike cluttered (or ignored) email inboxes, text messages can cut through the noise and deliver pertinent information directly to the prospect, eliciting more immediate recognition and response. While email remains a strong marketing channel, texting prospective college students provides some unique advantages:
- Compared to email (which often struggles to exceed a 20% open rate), research shows that SMS text messages have a near perfect open rate of 98%
- 95% of text messages will be opened within three minutes — while it takes 90 minutes on average for someone to open an email notification
- With an 8x higher engagement rate than email, texting platforms effectively increase student retention and click-through rate
- Text messages have a 45% response rate, while email messages have just a 6% response rate
By texting prospective students via SMS texting platforms, schools can increase engagement and drive meaningful connections with them.
How to Use Texting Platforms in the Admissions Process
Higher ed institutions have the opportunity to provide prospects with real-time guidance for navigating an increasingly complex and competitive admissions process. Highered texting platforms can help nudge prospective students along their enrollment journey by providing them with clear next steps and pertinent resources or information. This could include:
- Reminders of upcoming deadlines
- Notifications of missing forms or incomplete application sections
- Informative resources or links to program and degree requirements
- Financial aid and scholarship application information
- Sign-ups for info sessions
- Registration details for campus tours and orientation
The framing, tone, and frequency of messaging are the most important factors to consider when crafting SMS campaigns. Messages should align with the student’s position in the enrollment funnel, include meaningful calls to action to drive website visits, and aim to keep students on track during the admissions process.
Integrating existing enrollment CRM or SIS platforms into texting platforms allows you to leverage prospect profile information in constructing relevant and timely messaging.
Using Higher Ed Texting Platforms to Reduce the “Summer Melt”
Texting strategies have been shown to effectively combat “summer melt,” the period between high school graduation and freshman year where students do not follow through with attendance.
A study performed by Benjamin Castleman from the University of Virginia, showed that when sending high school students personalized weekly messaging, there was a 7% higher enrollment rate compared to students who did not receive these messages.
With each additional enrollment usually costing less than $10 per student, the ROI for texting platforms can be substantial when compared to the tuition lost to summer melt.
8 Higher Ed Texting Platforms & the Best SMS Marketing Software Solutions to Consider
If you are thinking about adding texting for college admissions to your enrollment marketing playbook, here’s a run-down of the best college sms software systems that you should consider.
Offering a solution specifically designed for higher education, TrueDialog is a multifaceted platform built to fit the marketing needs of large to small scale higher education institutions. TrueDialog’s CRM and SIS integrations include Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, Marketo, Hubspot, Oracles’ Eloqua, Campus Nexus, and Velocify. These integrations enable personalized messaging tailored to each prospective student’s major program and previously expressed academic interests. TrueDialog offers mass texting solutions which can be used to send automated reminders for upcoming deadlines, as well as a two-way texting feature that allows for real-time engagement with prospective students.
Unique Feature: The drill down reporting feature creates custom reports that isolate desired metrics and provides pre-built analytical reports to deliver detailed insights for campaign optimization.
Admithub offers student-centric SMS and AI chatbot solutions. Admithub sends tailored nudges to drive student engagement and yield conversions. The proactive and reactive SMS messaging model allows schools to mass market to a wide audience and simultaneously respond to student inquiries and build personal 1:1 connections. At the University of Wyoming, the Admithub chatbot saved staff 102+ hours, which allowed them more time to spend on additional recruitment efforts. Compared to the previous year, the school saw a 32% reduction in summer melt and a 9.5% boost in student enrollment. The analytics dashboard grants staff insight into conversation topics or common points of inquiry from prospects.
Unique feature: AI message prioritization automatically filters student inquiries that require staff attention, while quickly responding to ones that can have automated answers.
Signal Vine is an SMS platform that helps higher education institutions meet their enrollment goals by managing the admissions funnel and nudging prospective attendees with relevant, personal messaging at an appropriate frequency.
By integrating with existing CRM or SIS platforms, Signal Vine leverages profile data to offer personalized messaging and content. Signal Vine is a preferred partner of Ellucian and Salesforce. The tool also has a unique automated response sorting feature that filters messages that warrant staff response, so that attention can be steered towards students that need it.
Unique Feature: Visualization for the messaging timeline integrates existing campaign schedules and combats message fatigue for students.
Trumpia’s user-friendly interface includes a large set of marketing automation features. Trumpia offers API access, data integration, messaging templates, smart targeting, specified automation, drip campaigns, online sign-up pages and more. Trumpia can be integrated with existing data sets through API — or third-party tools like Salesforce and Zapier — to optimize data usage and construct personalized messaging campaigns.
Unique Feature: Text and email synchronization centralizes student behavior by tracking communications and sharing them between channels.
Used by over 500 universities, Mongoose is a conversational software platform designed to increase enrollment and drive meaningful conversations via two communication solutions: Mongoose Cadence and Harmony. Mongoose Cadence is a premier texting platform that integrates with your current CRM system to produce personalized experiences for prospects. Harmony is an AI chatbot solution that captures lead information, and alleviates the complexity of the enrollment process by answering student inquiries and guiding them to appropriate resources or pages.
Harmony integrates with Google Calendar and Office 365 to allow students to schedule appointments with staff or advisors via mobile text.
SMS Magic is a CRM messaging platform that integrates conversational messaging with Salesforce or Zoho. Through automated reminders, conversational messaging, and links to guide students through FAFSA form completion, SMS Magic has proven successful in increasing student engagement. At Northwest University, after implementing SMS Magic as a crucial channel in their communication plan, engagement rates increased by 1500%.
Unique Feature: Omni channels and multi channel messaging can mix multiple channels in your messaging campaign, either as part of an automated cadence or manual touch-points.
Textedly provides capabilities to automate, segment, and review analytics to ensure every text is crafted for the intended audience and is relevant to their position in the enrollment process. Textedly provides mass texting services or allows you to craft unique messaging templates for different types of audiences. Textedly is a cost effective option, allowing two way messaging to engage personally with students, with all incoming messages being free.
Unique Feature: Textedly allows for text messages up to 300 characters, which is longer than most platforms with a max of 160 characters.
Zipwhip is an SMS messaging software that allows clients to better engage with their audience through automated or templatized messaging that drives audience responsiveness. Zipwhip integrates with existing CRM platforms to segment audiences and target them with personalized, relevant messages.
Unique Feature: Message Feed organization provides a holistic view of all inbound messages, rather than having to search through multiple conversations.