Communicating with prospective and current families at the right time and in the right way is critical to your yield and retention rates. While emails are an effective and popular communication channel, your key messages are prone to get lost or inadvertently filtered. This is where text messaging shines because it happens in real-time. With text message marketing, there’s little to no missed communications, and no junk mail to sort through.
Most of your families keep their phones within arm’s reach, which means time-sensitive communications will be viewed at faster rates. Studies show that text messages have a 98% open rate, while emails have closer to a 20% open rate. No matter what tools you are using in your admission office, it’s time to start considering how to implement texting as part of your engagement efforts.
In this blog post, learn what rules to follow, best practices to consider, and when to incorporate texts to increase engagement with your families.

SMS vs MMS

First, let’s define a few keywords together. Two acronyms you might have heard in the past are SMS and MMS. SMS stands for Short Message Services, which allows up to 160 characters per text message. MMS stands for Multimedia Messaging Services, which allows an unlimited number of characters per message and the ability to send pictures, videos, audio files, etc.

Stay Mindful

When it comes to text message marketing and providing updates to families, there are a few rules and guidelines you need to be aware of. Here are some of the key guidelines to follow. 

Get the “Go Ahead”

You need to obtain consent from your families before you start texting them for marketing purposes. If you don’t get consent, you’ll be in violation of The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Getting permission will protect you from spamming your families, breaking the law, and damaging your school’s brand.

Luckily, getting permission is simple! Families can check a box to opt-in on your online inquiry and application forms, on any ad-hoc admission forms, or on any enrollment forms.

Once your families agree to receive text messages, it’s important to set expectations around your level of engagement. This includes how many messages they can expect and at what points in your process. It’s just as important to mention that families need an option to opt-out of text communications at any time.

Here is an example to consider when a family decides to opt-in:

Thanks for signing up to receive SchoolAdmin Academy’s text messages!  Receive up to 4 messages each month. Msg & Data rates may apply. Text “STOP” to opt-out or “HELP” for help.

Notice how we included the wording “receive up to 4 messages each month”. Be careful not to bombard families with your texts to avoid annoying them. As a best practice, we suggest limiting your text communications to about 4 texts per month to begin. As time goes on, you can ask your families if they would prefer more communication via text, or create a test to see what works best for your school.   

Be Courteous

At SchoolAdmin we automatically set your texting hours from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. You have the option to adjust these times, but remember to be courteous to your families with the timing of your messages. If you send any texts before 8:00 AM to any of your family’s across time-zones (think international families) then you’ll violate The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).

Text Messaging is Not Free for Everyone

You often see the phrase “Message and Data Rates May Apply” in text messages you receive from other companies and organizations since it’s not a free service for everyone. It’s important to inform your families that rates may apply in that first text message they receive from you, as you may recall from our example above. It’s a best practice to keep your messages short and simple. Try to stick within 160 characters so it can all fit into one message.

parent texting

Know TCPA

There is another acronym to know, The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The TCPA is a law that was developed by the Federal Communications Commission. We recommend schools review this act to ensure you are not crossing any lines. While TCPA does not apply to all of your text messaging marketing to parents, it does include much of what we already discussed, such as:

  • Getting consent from your families
  • Do not send any text messages earlier than 8 AM and no later than 9 PM

Increase Engagement with SchoolAdmin

With SchoolAdmin you can use your pre-defined templates to send out text messages to all of your families during the inquiry and admission process. You have the capability to send your messages in bulk from list pages or via the contact record. It works similarly to emails.

Any time you craft a template for a personalized text, the goal is to encourage your parents to complete an action. When you send out a well-designed text message at the right time to your families with a relevant call-to-action, you’ll increase their engagement.

Promote Attendance

Use a quick text to market to prospective families and get them on campus for an event. For example, run a report within SchoolAdmin for any families that submitted an inquiry or started the application process but have not yet attended an open house. Then send each of them a personalized text message all at once with a call-to-action inviting them to sign up to attend your next open house! For example:

SchoolAdmin Academy has an open house coming up this Thursday and we would love for you and {childs_name} to join us.  You can sign up here {insert a link to your online open house form}!

Send Notifications

Sometimes you may need to send a friendly reminder of an upcoming deadline. It’s simple to send notifications and remind families of time-sensitive items with bulk personalized text messages. It can provide a sense of urgency to move prospective families through the funnel. And it may help you get the enrollment documents you need submitted faster. Reminder notifications can include a link for parents to sign in to their portal right from their phone so they can complete online forms, pay their deposit and manage any remaining requirements within the palm of their hand.

text message marketing

Get Feedback from Parents & Students

Another great way to incorporate text messaging into your process is to send a text inviting parents to complete an online survey. Receiving immediate feedback can benefit your school and improve the admissions or enrollment process for future families. Below are a few examples to consider:

After a Shadow Day

Send a text message to see what your prospective students thought about their day on campus.

Hi {childs_name}, thanks for being a Wildcat for the day!  We would love to hear how your day went. Please fill out this online survey {link to online survey}!

After an Open House

Ask your parents a series of questions on how their open house experience was. Questions like “Did you find the meeting spot okay?”, “Did you find our school clean and hospitable?, “Were all of your questions answered?”, and “will you complete your application (why or why not)?” are a great place to start. 

Thank you, {first_name} for attending our open house last night! We would love to know your opinion of how it went through this quick online survey {insert link to online survey}!

Once they complete the application process

Check-in and see how their experience was completing the requirements during your admissions process.

Thank you for completing {childs_name}’s application with SchoolAdmin Academy. At this time, we would greatly appreciate it if you can fill out this online survey and let us know how we can better our application process in the future {insert a link online survey}!

When families choose to enroll or not enroll their child

Request feedback on why families chose to send their child to your school. And find out how you compared to the other schools they were evaluating. Additionally, take time to ask families why they chose not to enroll their child in your school. For example, you can find out if you didn’t have the programs they were looking for, if your school was too far of a commute, or if families feel like your tuition is too high. 

We are thrilled that {childs_name} is now a future Wildcat and Class of 2024! Will you please provide us with feedback through this online survey {insert a link to online survey} so we can continue to thrive as a school and find even more students like {childs_name}!

OR

We are sad {childs_name} will not be attending our school next year. But we know he/she will do great things wherever they enroll. Please complete this 2-minute survey on why you chose not to enroll your child at {school_name}, so we know what we can do better in the future.

Your school can use the feedback to improve your process and make adjustments as needed, which will set you up for another successful year of admissions and enrollment. These surveys can function like an NPS survey

As a best practice with using this feature, be short and sweet with your messages. Although there is no character limit, aim for 160 characters or less. Doing so will reduce the chances of your note being sent as multiple messages.

Any text communications sent within SchoolAdmin can be found within your text message history page. Parents will not be able to respond to a text message that your school sends. So, it’s best practice to communicate this when they opt-in. You can, however, include a phone number in the text message for families to press and hold, which will trigger a reply message.

Side note: SchoolAdmin text messaging is not designed or intended to be used as part of an emergency alert or crisis management system.

As a SchoolAdmin client, you have our awesome customer support team by your side to help you set up and understand how to use this feature and start text message marketing. Please sign in to your SchoolAdmin sit and connect with our Client Service team by clicking on ‘Contact Support’.

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  • Topics:
  • Admissions
  • Admissions Funnel
  • Communication