Can SMS be the Game-Changer your Admissions Funnel Needs?

Digital Marketing

Navigating the admissions landscape as a private or independent school can often feel like chasing a moving target. Today's families are inundated with choices and information, making it increasingly difficult for schools to capture their attention and communicate their unique value proposition. In this era of digital marketing – where emails often go unopened and direct mailers are lost in the shuffle – private and independent schools need a more direct, engaging way to reach out to prospective families.

Enter SMS: a simple but powerful communications tool. With nearly everyone connected to their phone 24/7, text messaging offers a unique opportunity to connect with families in real-time, giving them the information they need at the exact moment they need it. SMS creates an immediate and personal conversation with prospective parents that other schools might overlook.

Our goal here is to showcase just how transformative SMS can be for your school's admissions events. Whether you're interested in generating initial interest or nurturing ongoing engagement, we'll help you determine how this tool can enhance your communication strategy and streamline the entire admissions process.

Let's get started.

What is SMS Marketing?

SMS marketing - in its simplest form - means sending texts to people you want to reach (who have provided their mobile number and given consent to be contacted by your marketing and admissions team). It's straightforward and effective because, unlike email, almost everyone reads their texts - and read them quickly. This makes it a perfect tool for schools to share important news and updates.

Setting up a text marketing program involves slightly different steps depending on the country you’re located in, with each country determining their own requirements and guidelines around opt-ins, message length, shortcodes, and more. Your email marketing platform may offer SMS functionality or you may need to look for a dedicated SMS provider – either way, it makes good sense to think about SMS as part of your overall marketing tech stack.

Why We Love SMS

SMS has been a game-changer in how many schools gather, understand, and integrate our admissions data. It's helped us helped them to bridge gaps by tracking the journey of individuals who register for an admissions event, attend the event, and then follow through with the application process. Before using SMS, connecting these dots – from registration to attendance to application completion – was a challenging task. Now, we're able to gather more detailed and meaningful data from our campaigns, giving us a clearer view of our engagement efforts.

Another significant advantage of SMS is its simplicity and effectiveness in communication. It fills in the gaps left by email communications, particularly in reaching busy parents. A quick text can efficiently convey what parents need to know, such as what to do, where to go, and when, without taking up much of their time - and when combined with email in an automated workflow, marketing and admisison teams are able to blend a logical and thoughtful flow of information, reminders, and longer-form messages to be as helpful to prospective families as possible. 

Putting SMS into Action

SMS is an effective tool that can significantly improve the success of your school's events - and the steps that come next. Let's break down how you can use SMS at every stage of an event to maximize engagement.

Registration and Pre-Event Communication

Every successful admissions event starts with registration. Make sure you include an option for attendees to receive text updates about the event they’re planning to attend. This allows you to send timely (and hard to ignore) reminders about the event, helping to ensure a good turnout and facilitating smoother planning. 

In the days leading up to the event, use SMS to send out essential details. Tell your attendees where to park, what time to arrive, and what they can look forward to. This not only keeps everyone informed but also builds excitement. 

During the Event

Invite people to check in to your event by signing up for SMS. This can be as simple as scanning a QR code at the door and filling in a few contact details - like name, email, and mobile number - and opting into receiving follow-up communication from your school. This will provide you with an acurate record of who was there, plus a way to keep the conversation going.

You can also consider using SMS as a way to enhance the attendee experience - particularly for larger events. You can send live updates about the event schedule, such as when and where specific presentations or activities are starting. Additionally, you can use SMS to guide attendees to various locations, like refreshment stands or different session rooms. You can also invite attendees to ask questions at the event and receive real time text support from someone on your team.

Consider adding an interactive layer to your event with SMS. For example, allow attendees to text questions that can be addressed in a Q&A session. This not only engages your audience but also makes them feel like an active part of the event.

Post-Event Engagement

After the event, it's important to keep the lines of communication open. Sending follow-up texts to thank attendees is just the start. These messages can also offer additional resources or next steps to encourage ongoing interaction with your school. Keep reading to hear how one school effectively used post-event texts to keep parents informed and motivated throughout the admissions process.

By automating these SMS follow-ups as a standalone workflow, or integrating them with your existing email systems, you can reach families through multiple channels. This not only ensures that your message is received but also reinforces the personal touch that can make a difference in a family's decision-making process.

By including SMS in your event planning and execution, you're not just informing attendees - you’re also creating a more interactive and engaging experience. This approach can leave a lasting impression, making your school's events more memorable and effective.

Pro Tip: Set up your text message messages and workflows in advance. This way, everything runs by itself - and your team can focus on other tasks and personalized follow-ups, knowing that each attendee received a timely thank you.

Using SMS In Real World Settings

SMS was an important tool in the success of Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School's (STS) most recent admissions event. During their fall open house, the school implemented a QR code system to manage their sign-in process. After scanning the QR code, families were taken to a form to confirm their attendance, where they also provided their mobile number and consent to receive text messages from the school. This digital check-in solved the problem of manually tracking attendees, which can be time-consuming and error-prone. Then, after filling out the form, families got a text confirmation right away - streamlining the process and confirming attendance instantly. 

After the event, STS sent a series of automated text message to those who opted in to admissions information and guided them through the application process - providing links to helpful information, reminding them of application and financial aid deadlines, and more. By doing this, STS stayed in touch with prospective families, helping them stay informed and engaged long after the event had ended. This also freed up their team to be able to connect personally with families who needed that extra touch.

Adding text messaging to your marketing mix - especially around admissions events - can really change how your school does admissions. It's a direct, friendly, and convenient way to talk to potential families and keep them engaged. By using SMS, your school can make the whole admissions experience better for everyone involved. 

At Metric Marketing, we develop measurable and practical strategies to help private and independent schools like yours to make the most of your marketing efforts. We'd love to discuss your private school's marketing requirements with you. Contact us today to speak with our marketing professionals or use the form below to sign up and receive more marketing tips in your inbox.


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