Using Text Messages to Convert Inquiries to Applicants

Colleges and universities are constantly trying to grab students’ attention through their mailbox and email inbox, and students have caught on. They’ve not only become more selective with the messages they open, but as few as 6% of teenagers check their email on a daily basis, according to the Pew Research Center. Some admissions offices have already found the new best way to connect with prospective students: text messaging.

It’s no secret that nearly all high school students use texting as their primary source of communication. In fact, most students send and receive at least 100 text messages a day, with 63% saying they prefer to use text everyday to communicate with everyone, not just their friends, according to the same study. This leaves the door open for colleges to contact them personally in a way they’re more likely to respond to. At Spectrum, we’ve found sending personalized text messaging increases conversion rates and yield.

Collecting the Information You Need

It’s become common to require a student to provide a mailing address and email address when requesting more information. On your inquiry form, you can also ask for a phone number  and ask if they would like to opt-in to receive text messages to that number, as required by the FCC. Their cell phone is a very personal device and they have the option of whether or not they can be contacted on it. You can also put the opt-in on a secondary form they can fill out once they’ve expressed interest in your school and should never be required information. If they do supply this information, it should then be stored in a CRM to use later on.

The Right Time to Text

Even though prospective students are open to communicating with a school through text messaging, they don’t want the medium to be the initial point of contact. They prefer the first time they hear from a school to be something more “official,” like an email or print piece. After that initial introduction, the student is more open to communication on their terms. It’s simple to send out text messaging from a CRM/Marketing platform, especially with an automated marketing software. Personalized text messages can be sent out to a group of students or an admissions representative can send a unique text directly to a student and track their responses through the CRM.

Personalized Texting Strategies

Once the initial contact has been made and a relationship is established, text messaging is the perfect medium to reach students, as long as it isn’t generic. They can be used as follow- up after meeting face-to-face at a college fair or interview, reminders for an event, or for checking in on application completion. All texts that are sent should be personalized and relevant to the student. The text messaging is meant to open the door for students to ask questions or contact their admissions representative.


Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire started texting students who inquired about their school for the 2015 enrollment term. By mid-November they have had 17% of the students who have opted-in to text messaging become applicants. Once they apply, they continue to text them customized information they need to complete their application or check in if the student has any questions. They’re seeing a great number of their applicants enrolling for Fall 2015.

It’s clear that prospective students are open to communicating through text messages. They welcome information that’s relevant to them on their own terms. When used in moderation, it’s the best way to open up a two way street of dialogue and information to peak student interest.