4th - Aug - 2016

Schools Adopting A2P SMS – Proof SMS is for SMBs and Enterprises Alike

A running joke within my friendship circle is that they do not know what industry I work in. Of course, I tell them I work in the cloud based mobile messaging industry, but to a group of individuals who work in a number of the major industries on Earth (e.g. construction, retail etc.), this often doesn’t suffice. Perhaps it may be that, often, those who understand this industry are the ones who work within it; those who are exposed to the ins-and-outs of A2P SMS on a daily basis.

However, this doesn’t stop me from trying my best to explain it to them. Yet, with every explanation I try to give, the conclusion they are jumping to is that A2P SMS is only used by large multinational companies and not for the small-to-medium sized businesses. Sure, larger conglomerates use mobile messaging for a number of reasons. Ironically, my friends have experienced these for themselves, in the forms of two-factor authentication for their Facebook account, promotional messages from their favored pizza delivery company and even through electronic boarding passes for their next flight with loved ones for a fortnight’s trip to Rome.

This does frustrate me, however, as A2P SMS isn’t just for the large enterprises. After a while, I gave up trying to explain this to my friends, as after a while, this was akin to the proverb of ‘banging your head against a brick wall’. Trust me, you haven’t met my friends!

However, one of my closest friends’ eldest has just started high school, and he was sent an SMS from the child’s school informing him of a test his daughter has coming up. This opened his eyes to the fact that A2P SMS is also a more-than-viable option for the vast number of SMBs throughout the world to improve their products or services. In this case, the service the school was improving was effectively the education of their student. Quite aptly, he sent me a text message informing me that he finally understood what I was talking about! Banging my head against that wall could finally finish…

After further research, I could see that more and more schools were adopting SMS as a communication medium between the institution and the parents of the students. In fact, a number of schools were embracing bulk SMS as their preferred method of informing parents of important information, such as upcoming exams and tests, meetings between parent and teacher, upcoming events and even absenteeism.

This year, a trial was implemented in the UK within 36 secondary schools in England where parents opted in to receive once-a-week SMS notifications regarding ‘upcoming tests, missed homework and what their children were learning’. The scheme, developed by teams at the University of Bristol in the UK and the Ivy League’s Harvard University in Massachusetts, found that pupils were less likely to commit truancy and even performed better in classes. Perhaps this is due to an increased role of the parent within the child’s study life. Either way, A2P SMS proved a resounding success.

The further I looked into the concept, the more I found regarding the role of A2P SMS in schools; in 2015, The Times of India even reported that the education department of the Indian Government implemented a compulsory SMS program designed to send attendance records via SMS. The goal of this endeavour was to increase student attendance and reduce truancy, with financial reward available for schools with ‘maximum attendance’.

Personally, I think that is could only be a positive within the education sector, where issues such as truancy and performance are constants within the industry. With above the proof that SMS can limit them both, it must only a matter of time before more and more schools realize the potential of text messaging. Surely with a near-perfect read rate, which vastly overshadows that experienced for emails, this can’t be too far away…

SMS is already in place in the world of higher education. In my personal experience at university, I can vividly remember being asked in my first lecture to provide my mobile number as I could be informed of room changes, lecture cancellations and potential reminders of my conduct. Luckily, I didn’t receive a text message regarding the latter!

But I digress; these reminders can even help students complete more credits at university, according to an American study. Students at Fairmont State University in West Virginia enrolled in a texting program to receive monthly SMS with helpful reminders and encouragement to meet with their advisors frequently. According to their article, ‘this is the first time empirical evidence has shown that low-cost programs like this actually work’.

In my humble opinion, what has been outlined above is proof that the use of A2P SMS isn’t just for the largest corporations in the world. Sure, we’ve all received text messages from at least one of them, haven’t we? However, SMBs can use text messaging for a number of reasons to improve their product offering.

With Web Tools such as the Batch Sender, we at Mblox have everything you need to get your text messaging campaigns started for your SMB in just a few clicks. You can even sign up and see for yourself the viability of SMS.

Author: Lewis Williams, Marketing Automation Executive at CLX Communications

Originally posted on mblox.com

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