When I attended the CCST conference in October as a speaker, I received a number of questions from schools around SMS, or text messaging. Specifically, schools were interested in the compliance requirements for using text messaging to reach out to current or prospective students.
While we have not been using text messaging as tool in CUnet’s mobile marketing efforts for a while, I’ve realized that there are a lot of schools out there who are looking for some guidance around compliance and text messaging. So, I’ve provided a summary of these requirements below.
There are two main guidelines to follow when conducting a text messaging program of any sort. The first is what’s legally required by federal law and the FCC, and the second is what’s required by the wireless carriers.
- Must have the end user “Express Prior Consent” to be texted, and the ability to produce the record of consent when asked
- The user needs to know they are being charged for receiving text messages – hence the language “Standard message & data rates apply” is important to be shown clearly wherever the user is opting in, including on advertisements, websites and other places where the opt-in is happening
- The user needs to be able opt-out using the same way they opted in allowing no more than 10 days for the advertiser to stop messages
- If there will be an opt-out confirmation message (which is a chargeable text message), the user needs to know that upfront as well
- Because of the nature of the a text message, the FCC can and may consider a text message something that meets both the TCPA definition of a “call” and the CAN-SPAM act definition of an “e-mail” hence compliance with both is required
2. From a Wireless Carrier perspective and based on the Mobile Marketing Association Guidelines:
- The user needs to know what is the program they are being opted into (title/description)
- The user needs to know that “Standard Carrier Message & Data Rates Apply”
- The user needs to know how to opt-out (i.e. “text Stop to #”)
- The user needs to have an expectation for the frequency of messages he will receive
- The advertiser needs to maintain a log with timestamp for opt-ins and opt-outs to prove user subscription
- If the user opted in from the web, there needs to be a double opt-in process to verify handset ownership (user texts back “ok” to confirm)
- Help command information should be provided. This gives information about the specific SMS campaign when texted back to the originating short code; i.e. “for Help, text Help to (Short Code)”
- A URL or location where full terms and conditions can be accessed must be provided
- Customer support contact information must be provided
Do you have any feedback or suggestions? Please contact me or leave us a comment below.
Reaching Prospective Students in an Always Online World Part Two – Now at LeadsCon East 2012 and CCST 2012!
I know I am not alone in believing that the biggest revolution since the invention of Internet is the shift from desktop PCs to mobile data-capable devices (and everything associated with it, from changes in marketing practices to an overall cultural shift). While most marketers are aware of how important this change is, many in our sector still struggle to clearly identify how mobile media can help their business – or specifically their college or university – to achieve their marketing goals.
This is the challenge that I, along with a highly distinguished panel of mobile and marketing experts, recently addressed at the 2012 APSCU Annual Convention. We spoke to a full room, and based on the questions and feedback, it was clear that many marketers in higher education are looking for guidance in this area.
During the session, I spoke about the success we have had in mobile campaigns for our clients here at CUnet. Using data from those campaigns, I walked through three areas that are of critical importance to advertisers:
- Mobile volume: Can mobile media be a source of scalable prospect inquiries?
- Mobile quality: Do mobile inquiries convert into students?
- Risk and barriers to entry: What’s the barrier to test considering cost, compliance, and targeting capabilities?
Now, if you were not able to attend the session at APSCU, and are interested in learning more about mobile marketing for lead generation, I wanted to share some upcoming opportunities to hear more about mobile and how it is impacting higher education marketing. I will be presenting at both of these sessions, and I welcome everyone to come by and speak with me directly.
The first session is at LeadCon East 2012 on Wednesday, July 25th, 2012 from 9-10am where I will be part of a panel discussion for a session titled “Mobile Lead Gen – What Works and When Will It Scale”
The second opportunity will be at CCST – Career Colleges and Schools of Texas Annual Conference on October 12 at the Westin Galleria in Dallas, Texas.
If you still aren’t sure if this is the year to jump in to mobile, let me leave you with a few thoughts to keep in mind:
- There are more mobile devices than people in the United States.
- In many cases, prospects are already searching on their mobile phone when they inquire.
- Estimates show that 25% of all paid search clicks will come from mobile by the end of this year.
You can also download our latest mobile marketing flyer here, which outlines what CUnet can do to help improve your mobile marketing campaigns.
I hope to see you at LeadsCon or CCST!
Faster, Smaller, and Integrated – Now What?
As we continue our series of predictions posts, we take a look at the quickly changing world of mobile devices, and share some thoughts on some ways that higher education marketers can respond to these changes.
1. 2012 – The Year When Mobile Smart Phones Reach 50% Of The Market
Back in March, 2010, Nielsen projected that the U.S. cell phone smart phone market would finally reach 50% of the total handset market by Q3 of 2011.As it turns out, they were a little premature in their estimates – the majority of Americans still have feature phones (according to comScore’s latest survey, which puts smart phones at 38%). However, with smart phone prices down, tier 2 carrier smart phone inclusion, and increased competition, we can expect to pass that milestone in 2012. With almost half the population accessing the internet on their mobile devices – from social media to shopping sites and more –we can expect the marketing pendulum to begin the swing in favor of “mobile first, desktop second.”
2. The Rise of the Tablets To Main-Stream
The increased competition in the tablet market will drive prices down and increase sales as new models come out allowing the devices to be more main stream. More Americans who use their PC for simple activities like e-commerce, news, web, email, will buy tablets when they want to replace their PC.
So what does all this mean for higher ed marketers? Schools can no longer afford to build and test their websites purely with a desktop user in mind. Sites that are optimized for mobile (including touch screens) will offer a better user experience and in turn, drive better results.
3. Social Sites and Apps will Continue to Dominate Mobile Traffic
All analytics and indicators show the strong dominance of social sites and social games. This theme will continue throughout 2012, and we’ll see more and more marketers exploring ways to leverage that trend to increase brand awareness. In particular, we expect more attention on Android and iPhone GEO Social apps with creative uses of targeting them.. This recent Nielsen Study reinforces this prediction.
4. RIM Losing Market Share
Research in Motion, the manufacturer of Blackberry, is in serious trouble. With sales already on the decline and a series of network issues in the recent past, they will continue to lose marketshare going into 2012, with the other 3 major players (Google, Apple, and Microsoft) benefiting.
While it’s still possible that RIM could find it’s way back by introducing an advanced touch OS with features and benefits equal to – or better than – Android and iOS operating systems, this doesn’t appear likely at this point. Having said that, marketers should keep focusing on optimizing their mobile presence for all handset types in the market with mobile web design best practices in mind.
5. The Beginning of the Start for Contactless Payments adoption via NFC & Virtual Wallets to Replace Credit Cards
This trend is unlikely to directly impact higher ed recruitment any time soon; however, our list of mobile predictions would be incomplete without it.
Many new smart phones that are coming out now and the rumored new iPhone5 to come will probably have NFC. Allowing users with these handsets to store credit card information in a virtual wallet on the phone and start using the phones at terminals that accepts them like the MasterCard PayPass for quick and easy checkouts. One example is the Google Virtual Wallet.
6. The Rise of Smart Phone-Connected Gadgets
Finally, if you are up to date with the latest trends and hip gadgets craze, you may have noticed new gadgets in your electronics store that take advantage of the smart phone’s connectivity features to enhance everyday life activities. Today, smart phones enable everything from listening to music through Bluetooth connected stereo phones to tracking fitness and health through app-supported devices like the UP bracelet or the Fitbit activity and sleep trackers. Expect more of those life-enhancing gadgets to show up and to satisfy our technology-driven lives.
While this is another trend that doesn’t have immediate/obvious ramifications for higher ed marketers, it is worth watching how this evolves. As more companies come up with ways to take advantage of smart phone connectivity, marketers are bound to follow.
Decloaking the Google WAP Mobile Universe: Why Your Mobile Campaign May Be Missing 65% of the Market
The rapidly growing mobile market offers a great platform for schools to extend their brand message and engage prospective students. So, it’s not surprising that we’re seeing a huge growth in mobile marketing campaigns in higher education.
What is surprising is how many of these campaigns are not correctly targeted or well optimized for a huge portion of the mobile market. In this post, I’ll explore one of the most influential mobile channels (Google Mobile Pay Per Click) and provide some tips on how to ensure your mobile campaign is reaching it.
Why Do Different Phones Display Different Search Results?
Many online marketers have no idea that a parallel universe exists of the web called the mobile web (or if they do, they may be unsure what to do with it). Understanding this is the first step in ensuring that your mobile PPC campaigns reach all mobile users.
In order to ensure mobile users reach the best/most helpful search results from their mobile device, Google has a dedicated index of mobile-compatible websites (a.k.a. the mobile web). These sites are indexed separately from the standard Google search index, and are served up in search results from feature phones (in paid ads, these sites get a cool mobile icon next to them like the one below).
In other words, doing a Google search query from a feature phone will serve up mobile web results; doing the same search on a smart phone or desktop will serve up results from the standard Google index, resulting in a different set of both organic and paid search results.
Here’s how it breaks down:
- If you have a smart phone (full HTML mobile browser), your organic search results will be similar to desktop, but the paid search results may be different (only ads that are set up to target smart phones will appear).
- For Feature Phones (phones with a WAP browser), both organic search results and paid search results will be different than those on a desktop/smart phone. To reach feature phones with a paid search, a dedicated campaign is required (paid search campaigns that only target mobile WAP devices do not overlap with regular online paid search campaigns).
In light of the new industry regulations about gainful employment and increased requirements for disclosure and transparency in the for profit career colleges sector, many schools are taking or have taken positive steps towards establishing new compliance marketing guidelines, but is SMS, or text message, marketing being overlooked?
In an effort to help create an effective and compliant mobile marketing ecosystem for higher education, CUnet has created a Quick Guide for SMS Advertising and Compliance based on the Mobile Marketing Association’s best practices, specifically designed for colleges and universities.
Many schools are already using SMS campaigns to communicate with prospective and current students in a variety of ways, including following up with information inquiries via text and text alerts sent directly to mobile phones. Conducting any text messaging campaign without following the required U.S. wireless carriers requirements and The Mobile Marketing Association(MMA) Best Practices Guidelines can put both the schools and owners of a short code at considerable legal and financial risk. Additionally, not following the guidelines can result in ineffective marketing campaigns that may result in frustrated prospects or students.
A recent survey by Pew Internet & American Life Project shows that more than half of mobile Internet users access the Internet daily from the mobile devices — over 35 million a daily. And another article by eMarketer about the recent Keynote Systems poll for Adobe shows that for certain categories like product reviews, blogs, and news, users overwhelmingly like to use the mobile browser on their phone rather than a native mobile application.
These and others stats from comScore keep reinforcing the strong emergence, adoption, and growth of the mobile web, but an important question still remains relevant in today’s digital marketing world.. Do I need to create a smart phone app to reach and engage my audience or can a mobile website suffice?
This decision is based on the overall mobile marketing strategy and the feature set required within that strategy. Multiple factors will be in play including the reach and the type of devices used among the target demographics, the goals of the product or campaign, and the functionality required.
For example, a game that requires direct access to the SDK and device specific native features is likely to be an App while a database search based product can be satisfied with a mobile website. Many mobile native apps today can easily be replaced with a mobile web version without losing much.
So how strong is the mobile web traffic today? As an example, CUnet is generating thousands of mobile student inquiries daily through a combination of mobile web and native Apps traffic, but the majority of the traffic is coming from the mobile web.
Let’s take a look at some of the factors that can be taken into consideration in the decision process:
Below are key insights to current trends that increasingly make mobile an attractive addition to a school’s marketing toolbox.
1. Mobile is Huge.
Nine out of ten U.S. residents are mobile subscribers, according to the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA). There are currently 285.6 million mobile subscribers in the U.S., with nearly two-thirds of them using text messaging actively, and about 70 million of them having the ability to access the Internet from their mobile phones.