How Universities Can Increase Engagement through SMS

Smartphones are usually seen as enemies by educational institutions and considered the main distraction in the school environment. Texting in particular is the number one enemy, as a study revealed that over 60% of students send 1 to 10 texts messages while in class.

What may be considered a problem from one side may also be an opportunity from other. Mobile phones are not going anywhere; so if you can’t beat them, join them! If students’ main communication channel is text messages, Universities can and should take advantage of it.

On average:

  • SMS has a 98% open rate and a 45% response rate (while email has only 20% open rate and 6% response)
  • SMSes are read in less than 5 seconds
  • Respond time for SMS is only 90 seconds, while 90 minutes for email
  • Millennials exchange 67 messages per day


There is no doubt SMS can be a valuable channel for fast and effective communication, so let’s see a few possibilities that Universities can explore.

Through very simple 1-Way SMS sends, they can share important information with large groups of students:

  • Reminders: Exam schedules, class changes or cancelations, deadlines, school holidays… There are many key dates and instances that students may need a reminder.
  • Admissions: Invite prospect students to campus visits and admissions events, coordinate interviews or send status updates.
  • Emergency Alerts: Quickly contact all students and staff in the case of an emergency. If the University is closed due to snow or any weather conditions, for example, SMS is the best channel for time-sensitive circumstances.


2-Way SMS

Taking a step further, Universities can use 2-Way SMS to increase engagement with their students and promote a more dynamic communication.

  • Surveys: Universities commonly struggle to get feedback and effectively engage with their students. Promote quantitative and qualitative surveys about units of study and lectures; ask for student suggestions and preferences.
  • Competitions: Promote competitions and contest with students in a informal and dynamic way.
  • Events Registration, Confirmation, Reminder and Check-in: SMS for events is definitely my favourite use case, especially when talking about Universities, which tend to have a very busy events calendar. SMS can be used for the full event registration process, from communication to reminders and even check-in. When running large events such open days or career fairs, check-in via SMS provides seamless entry with no queues and a personalized experience.


These are just a few options and hopefully Universities will be able to innovate and come up with many others.


Tags. 2-WAY SMS, SMS

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