If you’re looking for ways to improve your admission process and enhance your communication with students, texting might be a solution. Many colleges and universities have yet to consider how texting could fit into their overall communication strategy. But innovative schools are starting to explore the benefits of texting for recruitment.
Many students expect near-instantaneous communication, which texting can provide. They’re already comfortable getting text messages from businesses, organizations, and even political groups. So, it makes sense that they might expect the same quick communication from colleges and universities. The best way to connect with students is by communicating in the formats that are most comfortable for them.
These best practices can help your institution stay agile as you test this up-and-coming technology.
Build out templates
Templates help keep texting professional because you have a measure of control over the conversation. Well-trained advisors can also help maintain your professional style and tone when they do have to draft messages.
There are so many opportunities for prepared messages. You can use them to:
- Follow-up with students you haven’t been able to reach
- Notify students of approaching deadlines
- Reconnect with a student who missed an appointment
- Send out start date reminders
Create templates so advisors don’t have to recreate these messages every time. If your texting service integrates with your CRM you can personalize templates with the student’s name and program of interest.
Any conversation that happens often can be simplified with a text template. Templates also make another best practice possible: automation.
Automate where possible
Automation can streamline your text messaging strategy. You might create them for common actions and responses, such as the first inquiry. An automatic text message based on a template and customized to the student provides swift follow-up. How fast is fast enough?
The gold standard for follow-up is: as close to instant as possible. That’s difficult to achieve, especially if you’re sending messages manually. Automation helps but be prepared in case students text back and start a conversation.
The more opportunities you take to pre-plan, the better advisors can optimize their time. Less time spent crafting individual text messages means more time connecting with students and moving them forward through the process.
Enable two-way texting
Texting can be one-way communication, similar to a do-not-reply email address. One-way-texting enables you to push out information, but it doesn’t do much to build relationships with students. To really leverage texting to its fullest extent, consider activating two-way texting.
Of course, the very first text you send to any student should include directions for how they can opt-out at any time. This is vital to stay in compliance with texting regulations. Getting familiar with texting laws and regulations can help you minimize risk and build positive relationships with students.
Integrate what you’ve learned
Students who do text back might share useful information you can use to gain a better understanding of their needs and further customize communication. Many CRM-integrated programs will capture text messages between advisors and students and store them with the prospect’s record.
If your texting solution isn’t integrated with your CRM, you can still collect this information. Advisors can take notes during the call and manually input that information into the student record.
As with any recruitment strategy, it’s a good idea to track the results of texting on your recruitment process. Many CRM integrated programs have reporting built-in. You might keep track of the number of successfully delivered texts, the percentage who have read your message, the percentage who have responded, etc. This information can help you decide whether texting is worth further investment.
Where to start with texting for admissions
As you may have noticed, CRM integrated programs offer a lot of advantages to colleges and universities that are introducing texting for the first time. However, they are a more costly option. If you’re just getting started with texting you might not have the resources for a full-scale integration. That doesn’t mean you have to miss out on this technology. Less-robust solutions may be enough for now.
Start somewhere. Consider what you can afford and then grow your program from there. Chances are, you’ll see a return on that investment that will help you make a case for an expansion of your text messaging program.
The future is texting and other modern forms of communication with a new generation of students. Now is the time to get started.
For more information on how EducationDynamics can help you integrate technologies for the future into your recruitment process, please visit our Marketing Agency Services page.