I attended NACAC's annual conference in Columbus, Ohio last month to learn about strategies to help schools and professionals serve students as they are making choices around pursuing a postsecondary education.
One of the hottest topics at the conference was texting students. The new PPYFAFSA and social media strategies were also at the forefront of discussion.
Research shows that texting students has a higher engagement rate than email and phone calls, and can improve matriculation and retention rates, but the majority of colleges have yet to engage with students over SMS.
Numbers don't lie, as my basketball coach would reply when I asked why I was riding the bench, so here are some numbers and statistics around texting and mobile messaging that are hard to ignore when thinking about texting or messaging students throughout the student lifecycle.
Text messages have a 98 percent open rate, while email hovers around 20 percent. (Source:Mobile Marketing Watch)
Text messaging has a 45 percent response rate, while email has a 6percent response rate. (Source:Velocify)
It takes the average person 90 minutes to respond to an email, and only 90 seconds to reply to a text message. (Source: CTIA.org)
The following findings are from a texting research study by Lindsay Page and Ben Castleman on Summer Melt:
- 86 percent of students reported that text messages promoted them to complete a task they hadn't yet done.
- 85 percent of students reported that the text messages informed them about something they hadn't realized they needed to do.
- 84 percent of respondents said they found text reminders useful in helping them get everything done for college.
Nearly 75 percent of teens have or have access to a smartphone, 30 percent have a basic phone, and only 12 percent of 13- to 17-year-olds say they have no cell phone of any type. (Source: Pew Research)
96 percent of smartphone users text. (Source: Acision)
The average millennial exchanges an average of 67 text messages per day. (Source: Business Insider)
Young Americans send almost 10 times as many texts as Americans over the age of 55. (Source: Business Insider)
58 percent of teens with smartphones cite texting as the main way they communicate online or on their phone. (Source: Pew Research)
38 percent of contact centers currently offer SMS, and 23percent have plans to add it in 2016. (Source: Dimension Data)
92 percent of teens report going online daily -- including 24percent who say they go online "almost constantly." (Source: Pew Research)
42 percent of all teens spend time with friends on messaging apps such as Kik and WhatsApp, and 14 percent do so every day. Meanwhile, only 6 percent of teens use email daily. (Source: Pew Research)
40 percent of teens in the United States use Facebook Messenger daily. (Source: Contently)
59 percent of 21- to 50-year-olds say they would break up with someone they were casually dating via text message. (Source: Spark Networks)
Mobile messaging takeaways
So what's the bottom line? Teenagers and millenials prefer messaging and texting to other methods of communication. While many schools may view texting as yet another channel they have to use to connect with students, it is delivering faster responses and is proving to be more effective than emails, phone calls, or snail mail to get students to complete important tasks or begin a conversation.