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How Scaling Text Campaigns Works

by Rachel Hicks | August 29, 2019
How Scaling Text Campaigns Works

We recently stumbled across an article by our friends at Inside Higher Ed. Admittedly, we were rather shocked just by reading the title. We weren’t prepared to see the words “nudging doesn’t scale nationally” in the same sentence, let alone as the title of the article.

But then, we read the whole article.

And we agree with it. Nudging doesn’t scale nationally if it’s done with a tool that limits scaling text campaigns.

Thankfully, Signal Vine is not that tool.

Know the messenger

One quote in the Inside Higher Ed article had us nodding so hard that we almost fell over.

If the effort of this type of information, a reminder campaign, were coming from a friend, the school, a teacher, where you felt like paying more attention to the message, at least at the beginning, the message becomes more salient.

We couldn’t agree more. It’s exactly why one of our texting best practices is that staff fully introduce themselves to the students they text via text. Even if students recently gave staff permission to text them, we recommend that the first text students receive to be an introductory text. That way, students know exactly who is texting them. Even better, it allows students to save the number in their phones as the college staff member’s name or the college’s name.

For texting to work, students have to know who is texting them. When we get emails from unrecognized senders, we ignore them. When we get phone calls from unknown numbers, we send them to voicemail. These same rules apply with text messages. Students, being consumers just like the rest of us, want to know exactly who is contacting them. An introduction goes a long way.

FAFSA nudges

Another touchpoint in the article refers to FAFSA completion. The article notes that there was little, if any, improvement in FAFSA completion rates among text message recipients. It argues that texting is no replacement for in-person assistance.

For some students and families, this is an absolute truth. However, texting can help identify these families who need more personalized assistance. It can act as a filter of sorts, identifying students who need in-person support while providing one-on-one assistance via text to students and families who are comfortable with that form of outreach.

We know financial aid texting works because we’ve partnered with institutions that have proven it works. For instance, Austin Community College’s Student Money Management Office texted students with financial aid resources. First-time students who received these texts were 13 percentage points more likely to persist in the fall of their sophomore year. The Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance (LOSFA) has texted more than 50,000 students with financial aid guidance. The average engagement rate among high school seniors is nearly 80 percent, and persistence in college is more prevalent among students who received messages.

Financial aid texting goes far beyond FAFSA completion. Simply arming families with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions is a great way to use texting to enable positive financial aid outcomes.

Scaling text campaigns

Behavioral economics tells us that nudging works. But scaling nudging can be challenging, as the article states. Is it possible to create unique, personalized messages for thousands of students?

With the right texting platform, absolutely.

Signal Vine’s platform allows users to batch personalize messages through the use of profile fields. For example, staff can send a specific message that impacts thousands of students based on their characteristics:

Hi [first name], it’s [counselor] from Signal Vine University. Your [GPA] GPA tells us you are eligible for the State Scholarship! Apply by September 15 at statescholarship/apply.

This message could potentially impact thousands of students. Signal Vine allows staff to select groups of students who meet certain criteria, such as a certain GPA, and then message them.

Of course, this can be scaled up as needed – all without losing relevance and personalization.

Learn more

To learn more about how Signal Vine allows higher ed staff to scale personalization, check out our demo video.

How is nudge technology being used in higher education?
How is nudge technology being used in higher education?
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