SMS (short message service) marketing often flies under the radar, but it should not be ignored, especially for higher institutions. Young people use SMS every day. One study found that people between the ages of 18-45 have their phones within reach 22 hours a day. Plus, open rates for text messages are nearly perfect.

As you look for new ways to engage your audience, here are a few pointers on creating an A+ texting strategy for your higher institution.

Define Your Purpose for Sending Texts  

Most commonly, text messages are used to send mobile coupons and other promotional offers. But, there are many other uses for SMS marketing. The important thing to remember is that each message sent should offer value to your recipient.

Here are some examples of text messages that your audience may enjoy receiving.

  • Safety notifications. Send messages about inclement weather or immediate danger.

  • Urgent messages. Let students know of urgent issues, such as class cancellations or road closures.

  • Reminders. Remind students of important dates and events.

  • Class registration. Confirm which classes students have signed up for and which classes they may be interested in taking.

  • Surveys. Ask students for feedback on ways to improve the campus, events they may be interested in, etc.

Allow for Opt-ins

In order for students to receive text messages from your school, they must agree to receive them. Sending text messages without consent is illegal, so avoid sending texts to students simply because you have their phone numbers.

Fortunately, setting up an opt-in program is easy. Add a compelling CTA to your emails, homepage, new student registration forms, etc. asking students to opt into your program. If students know that this is the best way to keep on top of important information, most will be happy to participate.

Keep it Short (Students Read Texts in 3 Seconds)  

Most text messages are read in a few seconds, so keep your text short and to the point (around 160 characters). The best texts are used to send reminders, time-sensitive information, and interactive messages. To save space and clarify your message, use emojis, links, or calendar invites. Also, identify your school so that the recipient knows who is sending the message.

Send No More than 10-12 Messages a Month

Another thing to pay attention to is the frequency of the messages sent. Data shows that 10-12 messages a month is ideal. Any more than this can make your audience annoyed.

We recommend starting out with 4-5 messages a month to see how your audience responds. If you think that sending a few more messages might be beneficial to engagement, try sending a few more.

Include SMS Marketing in a Cross-Channel Campaign

SMS marketing should be used alongside your other marketing channels. Let’s say that your college is hosting an event and your goal is to increase attendance. You can include the information in a blog post, on your homepage and through text. On your text message, include a calendar invite so that students can add it to their schedule. Cross-channel marketing allows your message to be heard across multiple touchpoints.

An SMS marketing campaign is a great match for higher institutions. Follow our tips above to create an A+ texting strategy that keeps your audience engaged and informed.