The New Rules of College Recruitment
How to Engage Students with Text Messaging
With over 4,000 colleges and universities in the United States alone, college recruiters and admissions staff need to up their recruitment game in order to attract top students to their institutions. This is especially true in 2022. As we enter the third year of the global pandemic, it is becoming clear that there will be no full “return to normal” for universities and that the strategies implemented by admissions teams during the past couple of years must be strengthened in order to weather the years to come. To put it simply, online engagement and recruitment will remain integral for recruiting students who are used to virtual learning and community building while dealing with rapid changes in public health and education policy.
So, how do you go about engaging with students online? In this article, we will focus on the most personalized method: college recruitment text messaging. This involves text messaging college pitches, important information, and deadlines to prospective students. These messages should be personalized according to the student’s background, interests, and stage in the college recruitment process. Personalized text messaging is the best way to engage with prospective students and receive responses.
So, why should you use college recruitment text messaging? And what are the best strategies for utilizing text message marketing? We will cover the answers to these questions below. We will also discuss how to use video text messaging to further optimize your text messaging student recruitment strategy.
Why Use College Recruitment Text Messaging?
So, why is text messaging the most effective way to reach prospective students? The simple answer is that it’s quick and easy to implement for recruiters and attractive to prospective students. Composing a short text message is much simpler than planning a long webinar or attending a college fair. You don’t need to leave the comfort of your office or face the public. All you need is a good text messaging marketing service and a list of prospective students and their cellphone numbers.
On the student side, text messaging is more likely to reach a wider amount of prospective students as well as gain responses. 96% of Gen Z, encompassing those born between 1997 and 2012, own a smartphone and spend 4+ hours on their phone a day. In fact, Gen Zers age 18-24 check their phones an average of 86 times a day!
Additionally, the average open rate for a text messaging campaign is 98% (compared to 20% for email). 89% of phone users report that they read a text message within 30 minutes of receiving it, so you can be sure that time-sensitive information will be viewed quickly. Finally, the response rate for SMS marketing is around 45% for all users. And don’t worry if you don’t get a response – your SMS recipients may still click on any links you send or look up more information about your school without responding. Overall, text message marketing is the best way to reach the most prospective students and ensure that students are thinking about and interacting with your school.
5 Strategies for Optimizing your Text Messaging Marketing
Now that you’re sold on the benefits of college recruitment text messaging, let’s talk about how to optimize your SMS marketing strategy! Use the strategies below to increase open and conversion rates, regardless of the content of your text message.
1. Use multiple methods to gather phone numbers
Before you can send a text message, you need to have the recipient’s number! There are multiple ways that you can gather phone numbers from prospective students. You should have an opt-in form readily available on your website and any admissions materials where students can fill out their name and phone number. On physical material, this opt-in should be in the form of a QR code so that students can use their mobile devices to quickly go to and fill out the form.
Finally, you can let students opt-in by sending you a text. This text should be a simple keyword (such as “COLLEGE”) sent to an easy-to-remember number. This method involves a few more steps on your end to setup the associated channels, but in the end it provides a great way for interested students to contact you first and make clear their consent in receiving text messages.
2. Keep the message short and sweet
For most SMS services, you have only 160 characters to fit into one text, so you better make them count! You can’t include every detail in a text message and must instead focus on the most important information. You can also use commonly-used word abbreviations or emojis to convey more information in fewer characters. Remember, your text message should focus on one specific topic or piece of information, whether that’s an upcoming deadline, a link to a campus tour, or a quick statistic highlighting student achievement.
3. Make the call to action clear
Every time you send a text message to a student, it’s because you want them to do something, whether that’s start an application, talk to a recruiter, or register for a webinar. Make their next actions clear with a strong and concise call to action. Your call to action should be featured prominently in your text message at the beginning or the end and preferably typed in all caps. You must also make clear how the student can follow these next steps, such as by responding to the message or clicking a link (more on this below!).
4. Link to additional information
You can get around the limited space of a text message by including links to additional information in the text. You’ll need to use a short linkto minimize the space used by the URL address. You can link to your homepage or a specific webpage to offer more information. You can also link to an event registration page or opt-in form. No matter the content of your text message, you should include links to guide the student’s next steps and provide more details on the information presented in the message.
5. Add a video
The best way to present the most amount of information in a text message is to include a video! You can send videos over text using a video messaging platform. Better yet, videos are a popular way to engage with Gen Z students: YouTube is the most popular social media platform for Gen Z, with 62% of them checking YouTube daily and 89% weekly. Additionally, recipients are more likely to click on a message if it includes a video: video boosts click through rates by 65% and response rates by 200%!
Best of all, information is more likely to be retained when presented over video instead of text. 95% of a message is remembered when presented in a video (vs. just 10% over plain-text). Using personalized video text messaging is the best way to get the attention of students as well as ensure that they will remember the information that you’re trying to convey.
Up Your Game with Video Text Messaging
Let’s talk a bit more about college recruitment video text messaging. As discussed above, video messaging is the best way to take your college recruitment game to a whole new level. You can send videos to introduce an admissions counselor to a student, share current student testimonials, send a virtual campus tour, and more!
The above tips on optimizing text messaging marketing apply to video marketing as well, but there’s a few specific tips for video that you should keep in mind:
1. Make your videos personal
If at all possible, you should personalize your video to the recipient. Use their name if you know it and provide whatever details you know about what they’re looking for in a college. Your recipient is more likely to respond to a video that is personalized to them. Additionally, prospective students are more likely to attend a college that they already feel knows them and cares about them.
2. Keep it short and sweet
Though a video does not have the same limits as a text message, you should still keep your videos short and sweet so that your recipient’s attention doesn’t wander. Try to keep your videos under a minute or two in length. Longer presentations are better received in a webinar format.
3. Pay attention to your environment
Film your video in a location that captures the beauty of your campus or shows off the building that you’re talking about. Make sure that you have good lighting before filming as well and that there aren’t any distractions in the immediate area.
4. Use body language
Body language can convey just as much information as the words you speak. Keep your eyes on your webcam, use appropriate hand gestures, and never forget to smile!
5. Use a video messaging platform
To make the most of your videos, you should use a video messaging platform such as Covideo. With Covideo, you can add a custom landing page, video background, clickable CTAs, and subtitles to your video. You can also embed your video directly into the body of your text message. Lots of colleges already use Covideo to maximize their recruitment strategy. Just check out this testimonial: