University of North Dakota Uses Text Messaging to Increase Student Engagement

University of North Dakota

The University of North Dakota (UND) is the North Dakota’s oldest and largest University, with nearly 15,000 students and 225+ fields of study. UND’s Student Affairs Marketing team uses text messaging to increase student engagement by promoting events and sending reminders to students.

It was so easy. All we had to do was sign up, have a quick call with our Account Manager and we were able to launch our program right away.”University of North Dakota logo

– Sarah Nissen, Director of Student Affairs Marketing at UND

Need For Central Place To Communicate To Students

Sarah Nissen, Director of Student Affairs Marketing at University of North Dakota, and her team were looking for a better way to reach their incoming class of 1200 freshmen. “Depending on what we were communicating, there were different ways to pull different lists and send messages, but there was no central place where we could promote events or remind students of deadlines.”

Email and social media had its limitations. “Students don’t regularly check their email,” said Nissen, “and while we do have a newsletter that goes out, it was not very effective, especially for time sensitive or urgent messages.” UND does have a main university account for social media which is used for more general PR and alumni, as well as another account for Admissions to target prospective students. “Our social media accounts did not target current students specifically,” said Nissen.

UND Launches Text Program For Freshmen

UND’s solution was to use TextMarks to pilot a new text program targeting incoming freshmen. Nissen’s team launched UND’s keyword during the Welcome Weekend at the beginning of the school year. Working with recruitment marketing and admissions, they drove sign ups by heavily promoting the text program by email, posters in the Student Union, notices to faculty and staff working the event, and on the Weekend’s schedule of events.

Mass Texting Now Integral Part of Event Promotion To Students

By using TextMarks, UND was able to quickly get a text program up and running, in time to capture over 1000 incoming freshmen by the end of the first week. “We were sending out 3-4 texts a day welcoming students, reminding them about events like the ice cream social on the quad. It also helped when we had to cancel an event due to rain.”image_UND

UND also used TextMarks later in the year to promote other events and new initiatives. In October, they used mass text messages to increase student engagement with current students and build awareness around their new One-Stop Student Services. They held contests every month where they distributed a trivia question through the short code. Not only did they increase awareness, but they grew their subscriber base as well!  In the Spring, they promoted their Spring Leadership Conference and enjoyed record attendance. Text messaging was an integral part of that promotion. Now Nissen and her team have more than 1,700 subscribers and send event, activity and general messages 3-4 times per week.

“It was so easy. All we had to do was sign up, have a quick call with our Account Manager and we were able to launch our program right away. The biggest part of our work was coming up with a messaging strategy. Plus, TextMarks has all the analytics — number of subscribers, how many texts we sent out, etc. — that we easily check in 2 seconds, which helped with our budgeting.”

Interested in learning more about SMS text messaging for higher education? Contact TextMarks at 800-696-1393 or email 

Melani Deyto

TextMarks is a simple and reliable SMS text messaging service that allows you to build your business or engage your community through group text communications, SMS auto-responders and mobile marketing solutions. Melani Deyto is a staff writer for TextMarks.

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