Choosing the Right Texting Platform to Engage Students

by Rachel Bishop | December 16, 2019
Choosing the Right Texting Platform to Engage Students

Choosing the right texting platform to engage students is not an easy decision. With a growing number of options and your institution’s unique needs, choosing the right platform may seem hard. With this in mind, we’ve made a list of four factors to consider when you’re evaluating your options for a text message platform.

1. Is personalization front-and-center?

We’ve talked about this factor many times on our blog. One recent blog that covers this topic is our effectiveness of texting students. One of the most important features a texting platform should have to effectively engage students is the ability to personalize messages. This is true for one-to-one messages as well as those sent to many students at once. Institutions have a better chance of reaching students through targeted, personalized outreach. Further, these texts are far less likely to feel “spammy” to students.

Signal Vine’s stance

We are firm believers in the power of personalization. As a result, our platform allows staff to use an unlimited number of data fields that can be transferred directly from your campus’ CRM or SIS setup. This ensures that your student data is always up-to-date to allow for personalized, timely messages. The platform also allows for manual uploads, if desired.

2. Is the platform scalable?

As important as personalization is, it means nothing if it is not scalable. Otherwise, institution staff who are already pressed for time will struggle to personalize each message for each student. This would be hard to do with a student body of 100 students. But it would be impossible for the thousands of students who flood the gates of colleges and universities.

A good texting platform will be scalable without losing a personal touch. For instance, you should be able to send a personal message to math majors to inform them of a scholarship relevant to them. This message might look like this:

choosing the right texting platform

By segmenting students by GPA and major, the platform provides a way to target students using specific factors and sending those students a message that is relevant to them. The best part is staff members only need to craft one message. However, each student will get a relevant, personal text. It doesn’t matter if five, 100, or even thousands of students need to receive this text. Each text would reach each student with their unique details automatically filled in by the platform.

Campus-wide scalability

On the topic of scaling, a good texting platform will also scale campus-wide, if needed. This means that multiple departments/team members should be able to text students. Some texting solutions offer this. It’s important to note, however, that often, this feature costs extra.

An even better texting solution is one that offers a strategic bird’s-eye view of the college or university’s texting campaigns across multiple departments. More on that below.

Signal Vine’s stance

We are proud to offer a scalable solution, no matter how many students you need to text or how many departments need to text students. Staff across many departments are able to text students at no additional cost per user. The Community College of Vermont (CCV) is just one college we work with that has scaled its texting campaign campus-wide. As a result, CCV is helping students who need to defer to another semester do so successfully, thus retaining their students.

3. Does the platform offer a strategic bird’s-eye view of texting campaigns?

It’s great if a platform can be scaled campus-wide. But campus-wide communication plans can be tricky if staff members aren't on the same page. This is why a good texting platform will offer users a way to see campaigns across all departments. A master calendar is an example of this. Staff who plan texting campaigns should be able to view which messages will be sent and when. This way, students will not receive multiple messages saying the same thing from multiple departments.

Signal Vine’s stance

Our platform comes with a message calendar built directly into the platform. Staff can see which messages are planned for which campaigns for which dates. They can also see which students or student groups will be targeted with each text message. This makes message planning much easier and keeps staff on the same page.

4. Does the platform recognize that automated and manual conversations are both important?

Some platforms note how important automation is. Others focus on manual communication. Both are crucial to successful outreach via text message. This is why the best option will include both of these efforts.

Sometimes, a student has a simple question, such as when a deadline is. This is where automation is invaluable in saving staff time. An automated response can answer that student’s question, saving both staff and the student time. However, other times, a student will have a question unique to them, such as how to gain access to specific mental health resources.

These personal, sensitive questions should be addressed by a staff member for two main reasons. First, the resources the student needs will likely depend on the situation at hand. Staff can follow up with more detailed questions to identify the resource(s) relevant to the student. Second, for more sensitive topics, students should feel supported by a real staff member. This helps them recognize that they have a support system on campus, addressing one common culprit on why students drop out of college. Sometimes, students simply need to connect with another human. This is why a blend of automated and manual messages is so important.

Signal Vine’s stance

We believe in this blend of messaging so strongly that our platform is based on a patented Blended Messaging® approach. This recognizes that there is a time and a place for both automated and manual conversations. It helps to save staff time when possible by using automation to answer less personal, often-asked questions. At the same time, it helps students connect with a human when needed.

This approach also helps staff reach out to students who may not even know that they need help. (After all, those are the students who usually need help.) By using event-triggered messaging, which is part of our Blended Messaging® approach, pre-programmed messages can be used to follow up with students based on their attributes and remind them of important information and deadlines they may not even know exist. To further save staff time, we have our Virtual Advisor that can be programmed to answer frequently asked questions ahead of time. This helps students get the answers they need quickly while also ensuring that staff do not have to answer the same questions again and again. This comprehensive approach helps staff reach students with the level of guidance that students need to succeed.

Learn more

We realize that choosing the right texting platform for your institution is a huge decision. We want to help make that decision as easy as possible. If you’re considering Signal Vine as your solution, please visit our Platform page. You can read how our partners are using Signal Vine, as well as the results they're seeing, on our Customers page. You can also request a demo below.

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