Organizations have lots of questions once they decide to start texting students. When should I send messages? Who should respond to students? How many messages is too many messages? The list goes on and on. One of the most common questions we get is whether students should opt in or opt out. What’s the difference, and which should your program choose?

Opt-in programs require students to send a text to an organization’s phone number to start getting text messages. Opt-out programs send the first text to students. The first text message usually lets students know how to opt out of receiving messages.

The biggest difference between the two programs is the number of students who participate. While opt-in programs see only 20% of students texting in, opt-out programs have a very low opt-out rate of 3-5%. Opt-out programs are exponentially more successful, but why? 

Texting Opt In or Opt Out

The answer lies in behavioral economics. Most people don’t put forth extra effort. Asking students to opt in inevitably means that only a very small percentage will follow through. The reverse is also true – if you text students and provide an opt-out option, few will make the extra effort to opt out.

If you’re leaning toward an opt-out program, the next question is always: is this even legal? FCC laws and guidelines answer this question. If a student provides his or her cell phone number to a nonprofit organization or institution (on applications, registration forms, inquiry cards, etc.), it’s considered consent to receive text messages. They’re giving you their phone number with the expectation that you’ll use that number to communicate with them. The guidelines also require organizations to stop sending messages to people who say they don’t want texts anymore. Signal Vine’s platform complies with these guidelines by recognizing the words STOP, CANCEL, and UNSUBSCRIBE. When students text one of these words, they automatically stop getting messages.

Now that you have all of the facts, it’s up to you and your team to decide between an opt-out or opt-in program. Whatever you choose, we’re here to help you create the best program possible to engage your students.

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