While the benefits SMS provides for emergency messages alone are worth the investment, you might be surprised at the new and creative ways texting can provide your school. No matter how traditional or progressive you consider your school to be, text messaging is a seamless and convenient upgrade to any institution.
Emergency text alerts
Weather, illnesses, cancellations, and other unexpected events make swift communication to your school’s population anywhere from important to critical. Because students, parents, teachers, and other staff check their smartphones for the latest news, they’ll appreciate you sending them a proactive mass text or voice message alert instead of having to go online or call your office to get an update.
Let them know school has been cancelled because of a snow emergency or other inclement weather. Alert neighborhood parents when their bus is running late. Relay the latest health and safety protocols or just test communication for contingencies.
Keep parents in the loop of any crime or police-related activity in the area for reassurance. This is especially important for those colleges and universities that need to remain in compliance with the Clery Act, which promotes disclosure of crime-related information for better campus safety.
You can always follow up with an email or automated voicemail, but bulk texting in emergency situations is a communication game-changer for schools and educational institutions at every level.
Marketing your school
Your school is first and foremost a place for education, but attracting the next great crop of students is key to keeping your school at capacity year in and year out. Whether your school has a marketing department or not, you can benefit from text messaging to prospective students, parents, and guardians.
Let people opt-in for text alerts at school fairs and athletic events. You never know who’s going to be visiting your gym, field, or fair just to see what you’re all about and if it’s the right fit. Most parents will view you as a modern, technology-oriented organization when you add SMS capabilities.
SMS lets teachers communicate with students and parents with a virtual number instead of giving out their personal cell phone that might buzz at all hours of the day (or night). With texting through a school-approved SMS platform, you’ll better manage all your interactions outside the classroom, like assignments, reminders, and progress reports.
Recruiting new teachers and school staff
Don’t forget about the potential to reach out to prospective teachers, faculty, or other school staff with text messages. Use resumes, online databases, and educational networks to build your subscriber list and alert them of upcoming openings at your school. With an SMS system in place, you can easily group your teacher or staff pool by grade, job type, level of education, and more and reach the right candidates right on their mobile phone.
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Get notified of absences through texting
Historically when a child is sick, their parent will call the school office and let them know. It’s often a short conversation so your school administrators can document all the necessary information like symptoms, outlook, or prognosis. Texting is simply more efficient for both the parents and the administration.
When you set up keywords to text the school like “SICK” or “VACATION,” you allow parents to cut through the clutter of trying to reach the office to explain the situation. You can set up automated replies to describe the illness or circumstances and then have verified, recorded parent replies to keep track of and follow-up if necessary. There’s little more time or effort needed on your school’s part other than the initial setup of the replies or virtual “sick” number they should text, saving you time and resources.
Student tuition and fee reminders
Save the hassle of trying to reach parents and guardians with phone calls and emails—switch to school SMS for the quickest reminders. From tuition to lunch and activity feeds, a text is almost sure to get through every time. You can even send reminders for overdue library books and media or field trip dues. Be sure to send a link to the school’s payment platform, and offer the occasional chance to opt-out.
Text messaging for select groups or clubs
With SMS, you can create niche groups to facilitate communication that only applies to them. Create a subgroup for the math team for the latest practice tests and results. Get your school’s volunteer group on the same page with this quarter’s goals and responsibilities. Coordinate your chess or academic club’s transportation schedule with texts.
School SMS for fundraising
Used in conjunction with traditional fundraising solutions, SMS lets you reach people more directly. The convenience of a simple link through a text to your Go Fund Me page, for example, will help you convert in ways not available just a few years ago. Test different messaging approaches and see which performs the best. SMS software should allow you to track results from each campaign so you can make any adjustments to maximize donations.
Consider giving select students the ability to lead an SMS campaign for your school. The personalization you can draw from a student’s name alone can often take your school’s fundraising to the next level – all while they gain valuable marketing and leadership experience.
Throw out a creative scavenger hunt campaign where people find hidden messages around campus and text a keyword to get the next clue. The creative possibilities you can incorporate with SMS fundraising campaigns are endless.
SMS for teacher or program surveys
Looking to improve a program? Want to gauge interest in a new educational initiative? SMS surveys are a quick and easy way to gather feedback and insights. You can create a series of pre-populated survey questions with automated responses that deliver faster than traditional surveys. Have students rate the value of the program or have them choose from a list of topics to study next semester. SMS mobile surveys will provide your school with actionable data to help plan for the future.
Keep alumni in the loop
Your school’s alma mater can often be your biggest supporters for a long time. With texting, you can remind them of big events or games–or even the upcoming class reunion. Former students might even prefer the option to stay in the loop via text instead of your mailed alumni newsletter or e-blast. Texting is simply a great way to incorporate that classic school spirit to alumni of any age.
School SMS best practices and guidelines
Using text messaging for schools is fast and convenient, but keep in mind to maintain trust and (in some cases) legal requirements, be sure to follow some basic principles. These can include, but are not limited to:
- No unsolicited messages
- Use proper opt-in methods
- Explain your recurring text program
- Allow customers to opt-out easily
- Your content must be appropriate
Graduate to school SMS with a free 14-day trial from Appointible
For a low monthly fee, you can add SMS to your school. All incoming SMS and MMS messages are free with every plan, and Appointible has all the training resources needed to get you started on day one.