Why SMS is best for Higher Education Marketing

Why SMS is best for Higher Education Marketing Featured Image

As an educational institute, it’s imperative to incorporate SMS into your marketing strategy – so we’ll take a deep dive into the why and (more importantly) some tips on how to make the most of text message.

SMS marketing is especially important if you hope to survive in a competitive landscape marked by declining enrollment rates and increased mobile usage. Students represent a demographic that is forever young and indoctrinated by the latest trends and tech. For instance, current high school graduates use their smartphone as much as 15.4 hours per week, on average.

So in short, you have no choice but to market to audiences on mobile devices. Your customers are mobile– this is the way the world is, as mobile usage is now surpassing that of at-home internet access worldwide. The impact of this was apparent when looking at millennials–the demographic of people represent the biggest generation in U.S. history who overwhelmingly prefer to communicate via text message over a phone call. At the time, millennials also pursue higher education at a much more frequent rate than previous generations, representing the prime demographic for educational institutions. Now with the aforementioned decline of enrollment and the advent of Gen Z, text message marketing becomes even more necessary for a generation that is even more “mobile-first”. 
When weighed against other communication methods, the inclusion of SMS marketing becomes even more enticing. Compared to an open success rate with emails (20%), text messages far outweigh any other means of communication with an open rate at 98%. Again, this is a fact that corroborates students desire to be texted by higher education institutes (as much as 77%)
While the relevant data can be utilized to increase the success of your business, one must tread lightly. This isn’t an invitation to start firing away “gr8 thx bai 🤙” text messages to your existing and future clients. In fact, that approach would be discouraged, for more reasons than the simple fact that it would make them seem like the awkward dad trying too hard to be hip.
So all of this considered, below are the do’s and don’ts in formulating the perfect SMS strategy for your education marketing. 

1. The gift and the curse of instant response

SMS is about immediacy. You are sending a well-crafted message to someone and within a split second, they are able to receive and read said message–even if they are on the other side of the country. Whenever a client has a question or requires any type of assistance throughout the entire process, they are able to reach you immediately. On the flip side, you must always be available for their needs.
In order to maximize your communication potential through your SMS marketing strategy, the most important facet is to be persuasive and implore your client to be responsive with your messaging. Luckily, there are lead engagement services that can manage this frenetic back-and-forth, so you don’t always have to be glued to your phone.

2. Make sure you’re given permission first

A proper SMS marketing strategy doesn’t just involve collecting a bunch of phone numbers and then firing off spam. There are permissions that are required in collecting and implementing a strategy you should be familiar with. 
Before you send anything, make sure you are GDPR compliant (for business dealing in and with EU countries). Hefty fines can be incurred if you haven’t received the permission to receive texts/marketing material from your clients.
There are a plethora of compliance contingencies you should be well versed with. Thankfully, there are plenty of resources available for you to use in order to study these legalities. 

3. SMS marketing platforms

You might be biting your nails and knocking your knees together thinking to yourself that there just isn’t enough time in the day to implement something like this into your daily grind. 
There are plenty of SMS marketing platforms that are simple to use. Most (if not all) of these marketing platforms have the required “opt-ins” as well as compliance built into their systems. Some of the best include:

All of these platforms are automated. You can build your directed strategy and they work with trigger-flow operations; when certain criteria are met (example: contact added) a specific campaign via text is sent out (example: welcome promo).

4. The human touch of messaging

PsychologyToday notes that 55% of human communication is through body language. Even with all the technology at your disposal, it is still very important to keep that “human touch” when using an SMS marketing strategy.
Always be revising your content. Always be making sure that your triggers have variables that aren’t sending robotic, repeated texts to someone over and over. No one likes to feel like they are a cog in your machine. Even worse, no one likes to have the embarrassing autocorrect message sent that completely changes the intended message.
The information within the text should be tailored to the specific individual it’s being sent to as much as possible. Similar to retargeting ads, SMS marketing should reflect the client’s wants, needs, likes and dislikes as much as possible. Recognize the style of the client in question: do they prefer short and sweet messages or do they like long diatribes (spoiler alert: they don’t)? Know when to end the conversation or when to keep it going.
The technology is here to set you free. If implemented properly, your SMS marketing strategy resembles the “set it and forget it” mantra of those cheap mini-ovens of the early 90’s. As a business owner, you probably toil with the idea of not being 100% hands-on with all of your processes. With SMS marketing, however, you are able to remain in constant and intimate contact with your clients so you can grow both your relationship depth with these people as well as the financial growth of your enterprise. 
Remember the important facets: keep your messaging direct, persuasive, and responsive. Make sure you are communicating with people who have given you the consent to do so. Always retain that human touch when engaging with these people–people want to be helped and not sold.