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Northwest University Sees 15x Student Engagement with Text Messaging

Our student engagement rate via email was 0.05%-0.1%, which went up to 15% with SMS-Magic.

Northwest University was founded in 1934 and is located near Seattle, WA. A top ranked Christian liberal arts college, they offer over 70 majors and academic programs to nearly 3000 students. A regionally accredited college, they award associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees through on-campus and online programs.

Problem

The college wanted to increase engagement with potential students to help them complete the application process. The school found that students weren’t replying to emails and that getting them on the phone was also difficult.

Solution

Northwest University saw an SMS-Magic demo at a TargetX conference and knew a text messaging solution would help them get the engagement they wanted to develop with students. Another factor that helped them make the decision was SMS-Magic’s high rating on the Salesforce AppExchange.
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SMS text messaging has a much higher reach than email. SMS outperforms in terms of people responding back and you usually have a quick response. SMS is the channel in which they prefer to communicate, as well.

- Kyle Hamar, Email Specialist, Marketing, Northwest University.

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SMS-Magic was easy to implement and started using it.

- Melissa Eller Assistant Director of Admissions Operations,

Northwest University.

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How Northwest University Messages Students for Better Engagement

The college began by texting application deadline reminders and event reminders, like recruiting event reminders. They also send messages for lead generation and setting appointments.

sms-magic Messaging for Lead Generation

They have also used texting for lead generation at an education fair. Students sent a text to opt in to communications from the college and be eligible for a giveaway.

Once the student sent the text message, the college sent another message with a link to a form to enter the giveaway. Northwest University generated 900 leads at the event with their messaging campaign.

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Reminders for Interview, Timesheet, and Paper Work

Messaging to Schedule Last Minute Inquiries

Northwest University’s advising office sends one-to-one messages to students. They are having a great deal of success in getting students the information they need to register via text messaging.

Sending appointment reminders has helped to ensure that new students keep their meetings with advisors and is especially effective at helping advisors schedule meetings at the last minute,
when the need arises.

Last spring, many students were interested in going to Northwest University at the last minute.

Student admissions counselors also use messaging to converse with students individually. Many of them would call students earlier, but they’ve seen better results with text messaging.

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Our advising office really likes using SMS. They couldn’t have processed those students without SMS, because they couldn’t have met them in a timely manner. There was such a delay with email or phone calls that they couldn’t have gotten them slotted fast enough. We replaced our student call center with an SMS text messaging center.

- Kyle Hamar, Email Specialist, Marketing, Northwest University.

sms-magic Messaging for Campus Visits

The college uses automated messages to send reminders for events like Northwest Fridays, where students and their parents can visit
campus for a day, attend classes, have lunch and ask questions of the faculty.

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Reminders for Interview, Timesheet, and Paper Work Messaging for Reminders

The college also sends reminder messages to students over summer to finalize their housing. These text messages have a link to a page with information related to housing.

Northwest University also sends orientation day reminders to ensure students reach campus on time on their first day of college.

If the college has both the email address and mobile number of students, they send a text message to remind them about the email to increase event attendance.

Our email engagement rate was between 0.05%-0.1%. After we implemented SMS, our engagement rates with students went to 10-15%! SMS is now a crucial part of our communication plan and the primary channel we use to engage with our students.
– Melissa Eller, Assistant Director of Admissions Operations,
Northwest University.
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Business Impact of messaging

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SMS has a reach of 95%. With email it is common to have at least 20% of your emails never even reach the recipient’s inbox. With SMS you know students are going to get it and most likely open it at some point. Every time we send an SMS, I feel the ROI’s been really good.

- Kyle Hamar, Email Specialist, Marketing, Northwest University.

Doctors are busy people and a text message helps Wavelength get their attention faster than an email. For locum jobs especially, the sooner a recruitment agency can get a response from the candidate, the faster they can place them. Messaging enables Wavelength to reduce their time-to-hire and increase both candidate and client satisfaction.
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Higher event turnouts

“When we send out an SMS to say sign up for an event, right away our counselors are getting several signups and questions,” says Eller.

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More engagement

An important metric for the college is engagement, especially around on-campus visit events. They want prospective students to ask questions and engage in conversations with their enrollment teams.

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Fewer opt-outs

Northwest University also noted that when they compared the opt-outs received for both email and SMS, messaging opts outs were only happening at 5% of the rate of email opt outs. More students staying opted-in to receive SMS communications empowers them to continue significantly more conversations.

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Increase in productivity

The college has also seen a “huge leap in productivity,” says Hamar, after they started using text messaging. Earlier, student counselors were messaging individually through their phones. Now, they send out one bulk text through Salesforce and reply to the responses that come in.

The more a student engages with Northwest University, whether it is communicating with a counselor, browsing the website, particularly visiting the campus, the more likely they are to enroll in and go to the college. Messaging helps in this engagement, so students understand and recall the Northwest University brand better and are more inclined to visit campus.

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