Do you spend money on technology and programs that are outdated and no longer seem to work? Are you making investment choices based on a checklist of features rather than outcomes? These are technology traps organizations fall into over and over again. Allocating budget dollars for technology that doesn’t move the needle on outcomes absorbs valuable budget dollars that could be better spent on high-impact interventions. To maximize your impact, it’s important for your organization to avoid these traps.
Some of these traps are obvious (like email), while others are disguised as a solution that ultimately isn’t very effective. Here’s a quick overview of the technology traps education institutions fall into all the time when allocating budgets to student and parent communications:
Students aren’t reading their email. Despite snazzy HTML templates, emails about key deadlines, and even emails that include features like the student’s first name, students just aren’t opening them. If you’re messaging with students over several years, their email addresses will change often based on their university, job, and more.
One-Way Messaging and Alerts
Alerts are great for emergency situations when you need to quickly get a message out to thousands of students in less than a minute. Like one-way messaging, alerts lack the functionality to have students text back, so there’s no engagement. These are often sent from a short code, which tells students that a machine (rather than a person) is texting them.
Most mass marketing companies are not familiar with educational regulations or standards like those outlined in FERPA and COPPA. They also utilize short codes to avoid being caught by mobile carrier spam filters – causing many savvy students to identify messages from short codes as spam, which they automatically delete.
Mobile applications are only accessible if a student has a smartphone. Next, you need to require the student to download the application, you need them to approve notifications and nudges, and then you need them to actually use it. Some organizations even require an additional log-in and password for their app. Unless you’re requiring students to download your app, chances are they won’t be using it.
“Text Messaging” From Email
Some ‘texting’ platforms will send texts to email addresses for numbers (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org) to avoid FCC-approved message delivery channels that incur fees. This is not only not an FCC-approved approach, but it’s considered email spam by the federal government and is very vulnerable to the spam filters at Verizon, AT&T, and other mobile networks.
Auto-Translation for Text
Auto-translation is not perfect and can produce terrible, unintended translations. Organizations should write their own translations and have staff ready to answer incoming messages in the appropriate language.
So how do you spend money wisely?
It’s important to start with outcomes and results, and ensure these investments are having the intended impact. The most effective communication technology today is interactive text messaging. It’s universal, highly engaging, powerful – and it’s incredibly cost-effective.
In addition, research shows the impact is significant. With response rates up to 60% and overall engagement as high as 90%, all types of use cases see results. College access organizations have measured increased matriculation rates of 11% and increased college persistence rates of 20%.