S is for SMS

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S is for SMS

As schools prepare for an exciting new academic year, it’s time school administrators added SMS messaging into their communication plan. SMS messaging is particularly effective in crisis situations, as it can provide parents and teachers with information even when the Internet is down. But SMS is also an effective channel for routine communications between teachers and students, schools and parents, and school staff and their administrators. 

Teachers and Students (and their Parents)

The average student is in fourth or fifth grade when they receive their first smartphone. Teachers have the opportunity to instill positive phone usage in their students, by encouraging their pupils to use SMS to keep up with schoolwork. 

To that end, teachers can send text messages to their students reminding them of upcoming tests, or alerting them that the book report they had been working on for the last month is finally due. 

Triggers can be set up to automatically text students who have missed a few days of school or habitually forget their homework, asking them how they are feeling or reminding them to do their work. 

For schools that have an online student portal, two-factor authentication can be used to maintain a student’s online privacy and protection. 

Schools and Parents

Over the course of a school year, administrators and parents require multiple touchpoints. They remind parents to attend school events like teacher conferences, plays, or basketball games. In colder climates, schools could use SMS to let parents know that there will be outdoor recess, and students need to dress warmly. 

The always-on nature of SMS makes it easier to alert parents when their child is sick or injured. While many working parents might not answer their phone during a business meeting or while on the job, most parents check text messages within minutes of its arrival.

Administrators and Staff

SMS is a highly effective tool for managing a large teaching and administrative staff. Sick teachers can text their supervisors that they will be out, while administrators can use the channel to find available substitutes. 

For schools that require teachers to participate in recess or lunch duty, SMS can also be used to communicate those schedules and help coordinate teacher’s participation in student activities. 

A Better Way to Share Information

SMS messages aren’t about to replace parent-teachers conferences, but it can create a more effective path of communication coming from the school. To find out more about how your school can create an SMS communication plan, contact our SMS team today.

Incorporating SMS into your Marketing Automation Program

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Incorporating SMS into your Marketing Automation Program

Marketing automation, like that done with tools from Constant Contact or HubSpot, sends out emails automatically based on a lead’s behavior. For example, if a known lead reads your blog about fly fishing, the system will automatically send out an email with a related offer for a fly fishing vacation. 

Essentially, the backend CRM system notes the lead’s activity, and triggers an email. Yet, analysis by Campaign Monitor, an email marketing provider, found that the average open rate for emails is just 17.92%. More than 80% of all emails sent to opt-in customers either sit unopened in the lead’s inbox or are deleted.

What many marketers and businesses owners don’t realize is that they could be developing the same marketing automation process using SMS messages instead of email. The CRM would recognize the activity by the known lead and trigger a text message with a related offer. 

The difference between SMS and email open rates is stunning. SMS boasts a 95% open rate. When you contrast the numbers, 19 out of 20 SMS recipients open text messages that they receive from brands, whereas only 4 out 20 email recipients see their email messages. 

So why aren’t more marketing managers creating marketing automation programs that run through their leads’ phones rather than their inboxes?

Comparing Email vs SMS Costs

There is a perception that SMS messages are expensive, and email messages are free. It’s certainly true that when SMS technology first came out, text messages were expensive. There were stories in the news of teenage girls racking up thousands of dollars in phone bills from their SMS usage, but the reality today is that the price of an SMS message in the United States and Canada is less than a penny, and between 2-5¢ throughout most of Europe (Try our online calculator for any country Messagewhiz.com > Resources > Calculator) without any type of set-up fee, subscription, or registration cost. 

Email, of course, is free, although the services you would use for marketing automation programs is not. If you’re using Constant Contact, you’re paying $20 a month for unlimited emails. For the same $20, you could send out 2,857 SMS messages to customers in the United States. 

Keeping Your CRM Updated

A CRM is located on a computer server. Email, even when it’s opened on a phone, is on a computer server as well. The offer you are sending will take recipients to a landing page, also located on a server. With all the marketing automation elements sitting on the same type of platform, it’s pretty easy to see how CRM could capture all the information it needs. 

SMS messages leave the familiar world of computer servers and moves to the telephone network to deliver the message. After clicking on a link in the message, the recipient is transferred back onto a computer server. Jumping back and forth between platforms may give marketing managers pause, as they worry that important interactions will not be captured by their CRM. 

However, today’s CRM systems are smart enough to track a customer journey that moves onto a phone network. The CRM can easily record that a SMS message was sent, capture whether or not the SMS was read, and see if recipients clicked on the link to the landing page. 

Creating the Message 

Email allows marketers to share newsletters made up of pictures, articles, and calls to action, while SMS is only capable of 160 characters, including links. Many marketers prefer the aesthetic of email over the utilitarian functionality of SMS. 

Interestingly, it is the subject – and not the design – that draws readers into an email. The same text that is luring users into reading an email can be utilized in a text message, with a link that opens up a perfectly designed and executed landing page. 

Incorporating SMS into Marketing Automation 

While there may be any number of preconceived biases leading marketers to choose email over SMS, the difference in open rates should be enough for marketers to test automated SMS marketing. 

Contact our SMS experts, and run some marketing automation tests with your leads. You’ll be impressed with your text’s performance.