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“Can I legally text my university’s students and alumni?”

If you’re wondering whether it’s legal to text as an organization, you’re not alone. In fact, the #1 reason why organizations are hesitant to SMS text is because they’re unsure of the legality.

In an effort to make the topic easier, we’ve invited communication law expert attorney, Adam Bowser, to host webinar, “Regulations to Know Before You Text”.

During this free presentation on November 15th at 2PM ET, Adam will break down the various levels of consent needed to text students and alumni.

You’ll learn:

  • The #1 question you should ask yourself before hitting “Send”
  • The legal categories approved for texting
  • When you need permission to text and when you don’t

Click here to learn more and register for TrueDialog’s webinar: Regulations to Know Before You Text.

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Life inevitably throws us curve balls.  Hazardous weather may cause an event to be delayed or cancelled.  A natural disaster may cause a widespread outage or leave behind damage.  Campus violence or crime may put people in extreme danger.  Even something as mundane as a technical difficulty may cripple essential functions.  In these circumstances, students and faculty need to be informed.  When time is of the essence, the most reliable way to instantly inform people of circumstantial changes is an SMS emergency text system.

Before we dive into some of the best practices for setting up your emergency campus alert system, let’s answer the question of why we should use SMS / Text for alerts.

 

Benefits of SMS Emergency Alert Notifications:

  • SMS texts can be broadcasted to a large group in a matter of seconds
  • SMS text is the preferred method of communication among college students
    • Open rates for texts are at about 99%, while open rates for emails are at about 15%
    • Approximately 90% of texts are read in under 3 minutes
  • SMS provides no requirement for an internet connection to receive an alert
  • SMS will often work even when voice circuits are overloaded
  • SMS provides receipt confirmation to show your message was successfully delivered
  • Some systems, like TrueDialog’s, allow recipients to discretely text back to the administrator (1-to-1) with live updates.

It’s clear that SMS text is opening doors for rapid information sharing, as well as improving overall safety and security on campus.  So, if you’re in the midst of developing (or improving upon) your emergency text system, here is some insight on the best practices:

 

Top 5 Best Practices for Creating an SMS Alert Notification System:

1. Determine who has the authority to send alerts

First, develop a protocol that establishes who exactly should be sending which type of alert, and under which circumstances.  Only key people should be given the capability to send mass alerts, so start by building your team.  Many alert notification systems will allow you to customize the rights and restrictions for each administrator.

2. Prewrite clear and concise messages

Spend some time carving out “canned” messages you know may be needed, such as campus closings due to severe weather.  Certainly pieces of information within the message will need to be changed once an actual situation arises, but it’s helpful to turn to an existing template during a critical situation.

3. Promote your Emergency Alert Notification System

One of the easiest ways to build your database is to include a subscription form with enrollment materials for new students.  Ensure both faculty and students know how the SMS Alert System works, and educate them on how they can reach campus security during an emergency via text.

4. Regularly train faculty and test the system

More than likely, your university won’t need to send out alert notification systems on a regular basis.  As time passes in between each send, it’s easy for emergency alert administrators to forget how to use the features of the system.  Periodically, you should conduct mock drills with faculty, and review the protocols your university has established.

5. Be conscious of how frequently the emergency alert notification system is used

Be courteous of your students and faculty by only sending emergency alert text messages that are absolutely needed.  Remember not to overuse the system, because if students feel they are receiving too many alerts, they may fall into the habit of ignoring them.  In order to avoid diminishing the importance of your messages, never blast your entire list (unless it is a major emergency, such as a campus shooting).  Segment your list and only send an alert to the people who would be impacted depending on the situation.

Conclusion:

Remember, the benefits of having a solid alert notification system in place at your university cannot be overstated, but there are important logistics that need to be sorted through in order to put a successful system in place.  For more best practices download whitepaper, “Higher Education: Regulations to Know Before You Text”.

If you’re university is currently in the market for an SMS emergency alert solution, TrueDialog can help.  Unlike other campus emergency alert solutions, with TrueDialog you can send mass SMS text, voice messages, email and social alerts in just one click.  Additionally, you can continue the dialog, one-to-one, when students reply to your broadcast.  Click here to learn more about the TrueDialgo SMS text platform.

If you have questions, we’re happy to help. Call 512-501-5947 or Text “Easy” to 370370.

Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational and educational purposes only and nothing herein constitutes legal advice.  The samples, suggestions, best practices and other information detailed here are provided as general background information only and may or may not be appropriate for your particular situation.  You should not act or rely on any information in this document without first seeking the advice of an attorney, and you agree that neither TrueDialog nor its agents shall have any liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on this information to the fullest extent permitted by law.

Give your digital marketing the ultimate treat this Halloween with SMS

 

The season of all things fun and spooky is upon us. A great way to get your customers in the spirit is incorporating SMS into your digital marketing strategy.

In the spirit of Halloween, we’ve compiled a list of tips on how to have some Halloween fun with text message marketing, including:

  1. How to boost your creativity and crush the competition
  2. How to speak to your target-market specifically
  3. Real examples from Halloween inspired marketing campaigns

Click here to read the blog post. From all of us at TrueDialog, we hope you have a safe and happy Halloween!

P.S. If the thought of incorporating SMS into your business seems spooky, never fear! We’re here to make the process a little less scary. Click here to contact us.

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How to start preparing your university’s SMS Alert System for winter…

 

The leaves are just beginning to change colors in some parts of the country, but regardless of your location, we all know the threats posed by winter weather is around the corner. And for many universities, winter weather brings about new challenges in keeping students and faculty safe.

Fortunately, SMS provides a quick and convenient outlet for sharing alert notifications on weather-related closings, hazards on campus, and safety information.

Is your university prepared to implement a SMS Alert System this winter? Here’s a few tips to help:

  1. Ensure you have all contact phone numbers in your database. Remember, as a university, you’re legally allowed to send emergency notifications. For more information, check out our whitepaper, “Regulations to Know Before You Text.”
  2. Segment out your notification system. During certain campus-wide emergencies, everyone should receive an alert, but to help manage the crisis, different messages might need to be sent to certain groups. Spend time determining these groups now.
  3. Enable your SMS Alert System to work both ways. Students and faculty should be able to reach campus security during an emergency via text, so ensure everyone is aware of that and review the appropriate contact information with them.

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Plagued by Summer Melt? It’s time to re-vamp your student communications strategy…

 

It’s no surprise that the transition from high school to college is full of obstacles and unknowns. But what may come as a surprise is that the summer prior is the most significant period in the college-intending student’s journey, and it is often the most overlooked.

As many as one in five high school graduates who are enrolled in college “melt” during the summer months and don’t arrive on campus in the fall. If you’ve found that your university has been plagued the summer melt, read our blog post, ““Summer Melt”: How to Keep Students Enrolled in College.”

You’ll learn:

  • The top “melting factors” including financial burdens, anxiety, and lack of support
  • Tips for keeping students “cool” during the summer
  • The secret to using SMS to boost enrollment rates

To read the blog post, ““Summer Melt”: How to Keep Students Enrolled in College,” click here.

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It’s no surprise that the transition from high school to college is full of obstacles and unknowns. But what may come as a surprise is that the summer prior is the most significant period in the college-intending student’s journey, and it’s often the most overlooked.Summer Melt

During the time between confirming college acceptance and arriving on campus in the Fall, teenagers are faced with major responsibilities, decisions and tasks to complete the enrollment process. And as it turns out, universities are failing to bridge that very important last mile.

 

What is Summer Melt?

 

College-intending students who fail to show up on campus in the fall comprise a phenomenon known as the “summer melt”. According to the U.S. Department of Education, about 20% of students who have committed to enroll “melt away,” with minority, lower-income and first-generation students being the most vulnerable.

If you’ve found that your university has been plagued the summer melt, fortunately there are tactics to keep students actively engaged and committed. Continue reading to learn why the summer melt matters, current melt statistics, and successful strategies that other universities are using to mitigate the phenomenon.

 

Top 3 Summer Melt Factors

 

There are many factors that impact a student’s ability to complete the last mile of the admissions process, but most commonly they boil down to the following:

1. Financial Burdens

The reality of just how much it costs to earn a degree begins to set in during summer months. Students begin to receive bills related to tuition, housing, and health insurance, and working through the logistics of setting up payment plans and budgeting for other costs can be overwhelming.

2. Lack of Support

After graduation, students support from high school staff naturally disappears. Also, not every student receives adequate support at home, and even parents who are involved may be just as overwhelmed by the process. During the summer, students are now tasked with paperwork and deadlines, many times without mentorship from there chosen university. To make matters more difficult, often times universities run on limited staff during the summer, so departments may be closed and support services may not be accessible when needed.

3. Transition Anxiety

Aside from all the logistics, it is common for students to feel emotionally unprepared to leave home. This apprehension may stem from family dynamics, but more often than not, students feel a lack of connection with their new school.

 

Top 3 Ways to Keep Students “Cool” During the Summer Melt

 

1. Go Mobile

According to Cappex, 77% of students do want relevant information from their university via text. Today’s average college student no longer uses email as their primary source of communication. In fact, open rates for emails have fallen to about 15%, where text message open rates are soaring at 99%. And 90% of these texts are read by the recipient in under three minutes. Texting college-intending students can simplify the process of sending task reminders, and improve students access to their academic information, as well as the overall relationship between the student and university.

2. Assign a School Counselor

Once a student has confirmed acceptance, they should be assigned a counselor to help them navigate through the entire enrollment process. If possible, universities should extend the counselors contracts to include summer months. Universities should also provide workshops for students and their families over the summer, or create a web-based portal to demonstrate how to complete certain tasks.

3. Build a Solid Community

Establishing a community where students feel at home at your university before they even set foot on campus will create a sense of loyalty. As a best practice, universities should start this process right after a student is accepted, which will even boost yield rates.

 

Summer Melt

In order to encourage your students to start their college careers, your university has a big role to keep them on track during the summer. Research has proven that interventions do reduce the melt. In fact, Georgia State University was able to reduce summer melt at their university by 21.4% just by utilizing smart text messaging (click here to learn more about the study). Therefore, it’s worth the investment to put measures in place to close the opportunity gap at your university.

If your university is looking for a SMS text solution, click here to learn more about TrueDialog, the preferred platform for colleges and universities, and start your free trail today.

What will your university do to keep students “cool”?

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How SMS Can Assist in the Safety of Students and Staff During a Large Scale Disaster

 

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the threat of Hurricane Irma has focused the attention of colleges and universities throughout the east coast.

Although the exact track of Irma remains uncertain, the importance of preparing an SMS/Text strategy for a large scale disaster cannot be overstated.

Here’s why:

Following large scale disasters, power and cell coverage is often compromised. Because of limited cellular bandwidth, SMS/Text will become the default form of communications. If your university is left with SMS as your only source of communication, will you be able to effectively share updates and ensure the safety of your students and staff?

Here are a few suggestions to help your university prepare:

  1. Send Text Preparedness Tips: Help your students and staff prepare by texting this Emergency Preparedness Checklist from Ready.gov.
  2. Execute Your Crisis Communications Strategy: Proactively send texts to all students, employees, and critical vendors/suppliers, to share news (such as school closings and evacuations) before, during and after the storm.
  3. Contact Reminders: Restate important phone numbers and departments on campus, as well as emergency contact information.

For more up-to-date information on Hurricane Irma, including the storm’s status, warnings and potential impact timing, click here.

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Preparing for the 2nd Busiest Shopping Season of the Year

 

As beach days give way to school bells, retailers are gearing-up for the second busiest shopping period of the year. Back-to-school season offers a prime opportunity for organizations to connect with customers via SMS to offer competitive sales and drum-up revenue.

If you haven’t thought about your SMS marketing strategy for back-to-school season just yet, you’re in luck. Here are a few tips to consider before you start sending your mobile coupons:

  1. Consider your audience: To make the most of your campaign, develop targeted campaigns for the various audiences you may be catering to. For example, your message should be tailored differently for parents vs. teenagers vs. college students.
  2. Interact with your audience: Try sending out a quick 1-question dialog with multiple choice answers to determine which coupon your customer wants most, or what is on the top of their back-to-school list. This enables you to deliver a highly targeted offer to your customer, as well as learn more about their preferences/behaviors.
  3. Develop a referral program: Consider how to best reward your loyal customers who pass along your SMS coupons to their friends. Savvy marketers are capitalizing on this practice by targeting teenagers and young adults who are most inclined to “share” their latest purchases with friends.

To learn more, check out our blog post, “Reducing Coupon Fraud with SMS”.

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Reducing Coupon Fraud With SMS

Coupon promotions have been a staple for businesses of all sizes. They have proven themselves to attract customers, increase sales and help reach organizational goals. But what may come as a surprise for many is that couponing is not without its rules and regulations. A major issue that continues to plague coupon advertising (even those delivered by SMS) is coupon fraud.

What Are Mobile Coupons?mobile coupons, coupon fraud, sms coupons, sms marketing

Mobile coupons are digital coupons that are received and redeemed with a mobile device. These coupons are typically redeemed either by a code directly in the text itself or, a QR/bar code on a landing page. Despite their simplistic nature, mobile coupons have been very successful and have had a massive impact for a variety of industries. According to Juniper Research, 45% of mobile users will use mobile coupons this year with mobile coupon’s global usage projected to surpass 1 billion by 2019.

Types of Coupon Fraud

Coupon fraud takes on many different forms. Of course there are instances of consumers intentionally misusing coupons, manipulating offers, and even selling coupons. But one of the most common practices of coupon fraud is posting/sharing, or redeeming, codes on the increasingly popular coupon sharing sites, as well as social media. Coupons that are intended for one person to use are being released and repurposed by many. Even store employees are getting into trouble by using previously redeemed coupons for a customer without one. Often times, people don’t even realize they are committing a crime, but coupon fraud is very serious and a punishable offense.

Reducing Coupon Fraud

How can businesses go about protecting themselves from fraud? To explain this concept, let’s look at a recent example that we had here at True Dialog…

A quick service restaurant wanted to have a targeted coupon promotion for a particular region of their restaurants. However, incorporating a 3rd party coupon into their POS system wasn’t a feasible option. This meant that coupons would have to be entered manually which would increase the chances of both human error and coupon fraud. By using True Dialog’s Coupon Campaign builder, landing pages were automatically created that allowed end-users to both receive coupons by texting in a keyword to a short code. These coupons were then redeemed at participating stores. Since these coupons were single use only and were being redeemed at the register, any chances of customers posting on coupon sharing sites were eliminated which allowed franchises to control market spend.

Here are a few best practices when it comes to managing coupon liability:

  1. Create Single-Use Codes – For each unique device that is offered a coupon, ensure a different redemption code will be sent and the code will become invalid as soon as it’s redeemed.
  2. Use Unique URLs – Similar to creating different coupon codes, ensure your platform automatically generates unique URLs that cannot be shared from one user to another (even if copied and pasted).
  3. Set Expiration Dates – As a best practice, coupon campaigns should always have a start and end date. To ensure old coupon codes aren’t still circulating, have them expire as soon as the campaign ends.
  4. Use Personalized Messaging – It’s always a good idea to personalize your SMS messaging, but it’s even more so important when presenting coupon offers.
  5. Avoid Distributing Printed Coupons – Unlike mobile coupons, traditional methods for clearing paper coupons cannot be done instantaneously. Also, paper coupons are more susceptible to redistributing and counterfeiting.

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How to Keep Your Alumni Engaged After Graduation

 

Another graduation season is behind us, leaving institutions with a new job of building lasting relationships with their alumni. But with so many graduates going in different directions after earning their degrees, keeping a graduating class ‘together’ is challenging.

Fortunately, SMS provides not only simplicity, but an overall better way to keep up with alumni communications.

For inspiration on how to use SMS to engage with Alumni, read our blog post, “Text Message Updates for Alumni.”

Suggestions include:

  • Alumni event updates
  • Student and alumni news
  • Updating alumni information

Click here to read the full blog post, “Text Message Updates for Alumni.”

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