“Students these days, have changed so much!”, said my professor aunt. She teaches Biological Science to undergrads. She had an interesting conversation with one of her students. She was in her elements, teaching the class about molecular genetics. George, one student offered to share the link of a video related to the topic on a text message, after the class.
True to his promise, George sent her a youtube link video on an SMS to her. She found the video pretty useful and informative.
What impressed her as a teacher was naturally, her student’s proactive approach in sharing content. But even more impressive was the accessibility of such resources and the ability to use and share it. Hence, the comment “Students these days, have changed so much!” followed by a very quick “For the good. They are so tech-savvy!”
The tech-savvy part of a student’s life is a phenomenon that cannot be ignored if you are a marketer. The amount of time a student spends on a mobile device has gone up drastically over the last few years. Smartphones have made it even simpler.
According to a Pearson Study, 86% of college students use smart phones regularly, even for academic purposes. The study further shows a data supported trend that shows that two in every five college students wants to use mobile devices a lot more in class.
This provides an immense potential to reach out to students via emails and SMS. If you are a marketer representing an educational institute, you have your work cut out neatly. You definitely need a well-populated student email list of a student phone number list to start with.
Reaching out to students via email and text messaging is one of the shortest ways to broadcast your message to them. Why? Because they are always online! Various studies have proven that mobile data consumption by students has gone up tremendously.
Data also point that the open rate of SMS’s and emails are much higher than any other traditional marketing channel. Especially, text messages have an open rate greater than 90%.
SMS’s and emails are very personal. In the sense that, they both reach the person intended to and are private. Even if you were sending a common email or SMS to 1000 students, for an individual student, it is a very personal message. As a marketer, it gives you the opportunity to establish a one on one connection with a student.
A combination of email and text messages can be used to inform, educate and consolidate the US student list.
Information on How best to Do
While using text messaging and email, it is important to interlace and balance the use of both. A student who receives your SMS will see it immediately compared to a student receiving an email. Though both can be accessed from a smart phone instantly, psychologically, students are tuned to open text messages as soon as they are received.
One tip to balance email and text to communicate a message to the student is to keep the SMS brief and use it as a teaser for the email. For instance, let’s consider a University reaching out to undergrad students through a student email list. The University can send out SMS’s to inform the student about the admissions schedule.
What the University can further do is to design the text message to get interested students to reply with their email ID for further details. This works two ways – the student is informed about admissions and University has a list of interested students.
Educate About the What, why and how?
Students as a community do not like to be told. They like to be educated. It gives them the chance to exercise their will. This holds true even for marketing, whether it is through SMS or email is beside the point.
Let us take the University example a step further. Once the university has the list of students who have opted in for SMS and email, it is important to start educating them. In this context, education should not be just limited to the curriculum.
The messages can be built around a pre-college event, financial orientation workshops, student communities or clubs, successful alumni from the past and so on. Using the medium to get your end audience becomes more knowledgeable is the baseline.
SMS can be used to educate the student about the event and email can be used to reiterate by more details, like a newsletter.
Engage to Retain
Communication with a student is two ways. The marketing lesson in this simple yet important statement is to engage the student.
SMS contests can be launched. Opinion polls over SMS can be enabled. Such avenues make the student feel important and his/her opinion counts. Students can also be invited to share their reasons to join a particular University over email as a blog post.
There is nothing like a retained attention span in a multitude of marketing communication. A retained customer is a half battle won. The attention span of a student is probably a few minutes at the best and few seconds at the worst.
As a marketer, it becomes your main challenge to fit into these attention spans and still retain the student. Engaging a student via SMS is instant while reinforcing it via an email makes the retention longer.
Design campaigns that use a judicious mix of both SMS and email to inform, educate and engage your students. This leads to easier consolidation of interested students and closing the deal with prospective students.