Why Schools are Turning to SMS to Stay Connected

Texting may be taboo during class time, but learning institutions from kindergarten to higher education are increasingly adopting school text messaging software as part of their greater communication outreach. In this blog post, learn why text messaging for schools is an effective tool to reach parents and students, see how texting can be applied to different use cases and learn why school SMS software is the most efficient way to reach your communication goals.

Why school text messaging works for educational institutions

It’s getting harder for educational institutions to maintain communication with parents, students, faculty and staff when only email and phone calls are used. This is especially true in the era of COVID-19 where remote learning is creating more distance between one another.

Email open rates hover around only 20%, and it’s easy to miss an important message because emails often get lost in our stuffed inboxes. Phone calls aren’t the most useful method of communication, either. Robocalls have conditioned many of us to ignore incoming calls, and people generally don’t like talking on the phone very much anymore.

From sending campus-wide alerts to connecting one-on-one with students in the classroom, school SMS is the missing piece for communication that is both convenient and highly accessible. Everyone has a default texting app pre-installed on their phone and it’s what they prefer to use: 77% of consumers say it’s the most-used messaging app on their phone even over popular options like Facebook Messenger and What’sApp (State of Texting).

Why use school SMS software and not a personal phone?

When it comes to mass texting for education, institutions need to leverage a school text messaging system to manage the high volume of messages that are sent and received (more information on that below). But for one-on-one conversations, it may not be immediately obvious why it’s not efficient to use one’s personal phone to manage school text messages. Here are a few reasons why.

  • No access to texting features. School SMS software lets you do more than what native texting apps alone can offer, including text-from-computer options, group messages, auto-reply messages, keywords to automate information, reusable templates and message scheduling. Learn more about SMS features.
  • Greater liability. Without centralized software, text messages can’t be kept on file and can’t be accessed by an administrator when needed.
  • Personal contacts aren’t kept separate. Just like educational institutions have email and phone numbers designated for the workplace, the same should go for school text messages. Texting software can text-enable an existing landline, VoIP or toll-free phone number, eliminating the need to hand out a personal phone number. Users can manage work texts separately from personal texts on a phone or desktop by using texting software apps.

Now that we’ve covered why school text messaging and using software is ideal, let’s look at how educational institutions can leverage both one-on-one texting and mass text messaging for schools.

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SMS text messaging for schools: K-12 use cases and templates

Most classrooms have their own landline, and with texting software, the landline phone number can be enabled to text and call. Use cases can vary from kindergarten to high school and can include:

  • Parent communication. School SMS for parents is easy to adopt. Teachers may choose to text parents about upcoming assignments, due dates and parent/teacher meetings.
  • Student communication. For older students, texting can be used for reminders and alerts. Teachers can send a text that alerts students to check their email inbox or online learning platform for important updates. Students can also reach teachers directly for one-on-one assistance.

And now that COVID-19 has shifted in-class learning to the home, teachers can use texting to be more accessible to students and parents so that everyone stays in the loop with daily classwork.

Below are a few general examples showing how school SMS messages can be used in the classroom.

Note: We included sample school SMS templates underneath most of the images in this blog post. These can be copy and pasted into any school text service you choose, but they are directly compatible with Zipwhip’s Dynamic Fields feature (indicated by brackets), which is used to auto-populate contact information.

Sample school SMS template for parent meeting reminders

SMS template for school example using Zipwhip texting software

A text message example showing how group texting can be used in the classroom with Zipwhip software.

Hi [First Name]! Don’t forget parent/teacher conference is this DAY/DATE. Please check your emails for your scheduled time and details about what to expect. See you soon!

TEXT MESSAGE SIGNATURE

Sample school SMS template for project due date reminders

SMS template for schools to use when texting in the classroom

An example of using Zipwip’s BCC Group Messaging feature. Send a text to groups up to 100 and replies will open in separate conversation windows.

Hi class. Just a reminder that your final projects are due DATE AND TIME. Please let me know if you’re running into any issues along the way. I’m here to help!

TEXT MESSAGE SIGNATURE

Sample school SMS template for after hours auto reply

SMS software for schools using auto-reply feature

An example of how Zipwhip’s Auto-reply feature can be used by teachers for text messages sent after hours.

Hi [First Name], thanks for your message. I’ve stepped away from the classroom for the day, but I’ll be back online at DATE AND TIME. I’ll reply to your message then! Talk soon!

TEXT MESSAGE SIGNATURE

SMS for colleges: Common use cases

Texting is a smart way to get in touch with higher education students because they’re juggling a million things: work, class, social lives, campus clubs, etc. It’s difficult to get an email response or a returned call when there are plenty of other things vying for a student’s attention. A text is convenient, quick to use and it’s their preferred way to communicate.

Related content: Read how Multnomah University uses Zipwhip

Higher education mass texting and one-on-one texting be used throughout campus and across departments, including:

  • Admissions. Prospective students usually have lots of questions. Admissions staff can use school text messaging to answer inquiries right away and start building relationships early.
  • Student success. Helping at-risk students requires fostering a sense of trust. Texting is an intimate medium and can help nurture relationships between students and faculty who are helping them succeed.
  • In the classroom. Texting college students may be more effective than sending them emails. Professors can use SMS to send due date reminders or even let students know when class is cancelled.
  • Sports programs. Athletic departments love texting because it helps increase ticket sales. An SMS keyword campaign can be used to generate leads and engage with fans; personalized check-ins can be scheduled to let fans know you’re thinking about them; and BCC groups for bulk texts can be created for waitlist notifications, for example.
  • Library. Help students with research, direct them to resources and get a hold of students about past due books.

The following are only a few examples showing how a higher education texting platform can be used.

Texting college students about class cancellation

SMS template for schools in a university setting

An example of how to Zipwhip’s group messaging feature can be used in the college and university classroom.

College SMS sample for libraries

SMS template for school example in a university setting

An example of how texting software can be used by university libraries.

Athletic department sample using keywords

University athletics department SMS example sales

How texting software features Keywords and Auto-reply can be used to increase sales in university and college sports.

You’ve just redeemed DISCOUNT off next DAY’s game in our battle against TEAM NAME! Please follow this link to access your tickets: INSERT LINK.

Student outreach sample using a higher education mass texting service

SMS template for schools in a university and college setting

How texting can be used with prospective university students with a group messaging feature.

Hi [First Name]! Looking forward to meeting you on the campus tour next week. Check your email when you have time for all the information you need about the big day. If you have any questions, please reply to this text. 😊

Use SMS for colleges to reduce “summer melt”

Texting can be especially helpful to reduce summer melt—a phenomenon where prospective students lose motivation to attend school in the fall due to extensive enrollment preparation throughout the summer. Students find themselves overwhelmed and lost with next steps, including finding housing and securing financial aid.
Maintaining close contact with students is key during this time. One study found that students most vulnerable to summer melt saw an increase in college enrollment when an automated and personalized school text message campaign was used to remind them of important tasks to complete.

To increase matriculation rates, texting features (i.e., the ability to schedule a text, dynamic fields and text template options) can help colleges and universities automate timely, personal reminders to students and parents that guide them through important processes.

Mass text messaging for schools: Sending alerts and updates with a toll-free SMS API

There will also be instances where an alert or update must be sent campus wide or to all parents (such as weather alerts, school closures and re-opening). With texting’s 98% open rate, it’s the best medium to use when important messages need to be seen right away.

Mass text messaging for schools will require an SMS API (Application Programming Interface) solution that can be used in conjunction with SMS software or on its own. One of the most common trends in SMS API is using it with a toll-free number because of the added two-way conversational capability and array of additional benefits.

An API solution allows learning institutions to not only add text messaging capabilities to existing phone numbers, but when used with software, an API enables texting across all school workflows, from high-volume, automated text messaging to customized, one-on-one conversations.

And while mass text messaging for schools could be accomplished by using a short code phone number, short code texting tends to offer a confusing experience for the recipient. They can’t immediately identify who the number belongs to, and they may ignore your message if they think it’s spam. Using your existing phone number offers consistency and immediate recognition.

Here are a few examples showing how mass texting for education can be used with help from an API.

Campus closure example (transactional SMS template for school)

SMS templates for schools

An example showing how a texting API can be used to send mass texts across campus.

Parents, faculty and staff: Campus will be closed DAY due to CLOSURE REASON. Please check your email for more information about possible closure plans for the rest of the week.

Reminder for faculty and staff (transactional SMS template for school)

SMS templates for schools

Good morning faculty and staff members. DAY/DATE will be the last day to complete the annual Employee Engagement Survey. It should take only 10 minutes. You can access the survey via the following link or through the intranet platform. Thank you! INSERT LINK

Send school text messages with Zipwhip

Whether you need a higher education mass texting platform or a solution to reach parents and students one-on-one, Zipwhip can help you stay connected. Major institutions like Utah State University and Baylor University trust Zipwhip to power their departments with texting to reach students, faculty, staff and sports fans.

Get started with mass texting for education by getting in touch with our API team.

Or start your free trial of our software today. 

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