Text Message Solutions for Schools
We also provide
Stadium Text Messages and SMS Security solutions.
TRADITIONAL ALERT SERVICES
Statistics and Costs
Over 65% of school districts in the United States have implemented some type of alert or parental notification system.
The leading providers of these communication services include Alert Now, Connect Ed, School Messenger, Honeywell Instant Alerts, and Schools Out. In addition to minimum service fees and initial setup and integration expenses, most schools can expect to pay approximately $3 / student / year for these services.
The fundamental problem with traditional alert systems is that they were originally designed to send recorded voice alerts - not text messages like
sms marketing companies.
So even though most now claim to have added support for the SMS channel, the original architecture of these legacy systems prevent them from being able to offer the most common and popular and COMPLIANT features associated with SMS.
In addition, these service providers do not want to pay wireless carriers to properly access their networks via short codes, and instead attempt to send free text messages via SMTP (email) gateways. This process is not only slow and unreliable, it is prohibited by wireless carrier guidelines.
Common Complaints from Schools Using 'Voice Centric' Systems
Our system is expensive and requires several people to manage
We spend a lot of time trying to get our parents enrolled into the system
Parents contact numbers can and do change, frequently requiring updates
Some parents complain that they have enrolled, but still don't receive our voice alerts
Many of our parents ask why we can't just send them a text message
Many of our parent's friends, relatives, and employees also need to get our alerts
Sometimes parents want to STOP getting alerts - but they can't get out of the system
It takes a long time to record and schedule a voice alert - and it can take hours to deliver
We would like to use our alert system for more than just weather and school closings
We would like to assign limited system access to key personnel on each campus
We would like to be able to send alerts from remote locations or from our mobile phone.
COMPARING THE CHANNELS
SMS vs. E-mail
Email lacks speed and delivery assurance while filters and crowded inboxes keep read-rates low. However, email is still a great channel for communications that are not time-sensitive and SMS via short codes is the best way to collect email addresses. If you send a text message and ask your audience to reply with their email address, our system will automatically update their profile.
SMS vs. Voice
There are many advantages to SMS alerts vs. recorded voice alerts:
- There more than twice as many mobile phones (292mm) in the U.S. than land lines (135mm).
- Some people do not have answering machines and will not be able to listen to missed calls.
- Fear of telemarketers and debt collectors prevent many people from answering unrecognized numbers.
- The human mind can assimilate the information from reading much faster than listening.
- Voice messages are hard to hear in noisy or crowded environments.
- SMS can be read even when users cannot talk on the phone - work, eating, with family, etc.
- SMS messages are only 160 characters - which is appreciated by busy recipients.
- SMS messages can be forwarded and saved for later reference.
NOTE: If additional characters are needed, SMS can easily contain links that direct users to mobile web sites, conference bridges, or recorded content. In addition, the SUMOTEXT platform can send a 320 character SMS which the system automatically divides into part 1/2 and part 2/2.
REQUIREMENTS AND SCOPE OF SERVICES
School's Limited Use of the SUMOTEXT Mobile Alert Service
The client shall use the SUMOTEXT platform to send any and all school closing alerts, emergency alerts, or weather related alerts. In addition, the Client may send up to one (1) additional alert each week that is intended to notify, remind, or alert students, parents, teachers, or employees with any non-sponsored school related content.
Use of Sponsors
SUMOTEXT desires to subsidize the costs of this service through the use of sponsors such as reputable car dealerships, banks, or insurance companies. The Client will be provided advanced notice of the sponsor and may decline any sponsor.
'System Test' Message Content & Frequency
Similar to the weekly tornado sirens that are tested each Wednesday at noon, SUMOTEXT will schedule a 'Mobile Alert System Test' (TEST) message to the school's entire database.
Since the sponsor pays for these messages, each sponsor will determine the frequency of the SYSTEM TEST messages.
For example: "CCSD: This is a test of our mobile alert system. This is only a test. This mobile alert service has been paid for by our friends at Farmer's Insurance. Reply STOP to opt-out."
The client is required to achieve and maintain a minimum opt-in subscriber base of students, parents, teachers, employees, and other concerned citizens. Each participating District is required to achieve an opt-in database equal to 25% of the total district student enrollment during its first year. If Client does not, SUMOTEXT would not terminate the service during the current calendar school year, but may elect not to renew the service the following school year.
To achieve this, the school district should promote this service on its website, via email, school publications, newspapers, and news stories - as well as signs and banners, concession cups, and programs at sporting events.
SUMOTEXT can assist the Client with the creation of custom graphics files (not the actual printing) that the Client can use to promote the service in various channels. In addition, early alert messages should encourage parents to 'forward' the message to friends with students.
SMS FAQ'S FROM SCHOOL DISTRICTS
Do our subscribers get charged to receive text messages?
Not from us, and most wireless carriers include text messaging with their service plans. However, consumers may be charged to send or receive a text message by their wireless carrier if text messaging is not included in their wireless service plan.
Will anyone send advertising messages to our subscribers?
SUMOTEXT does not send or brand any messages and sponsors do NOT ever have access to the system. The only time anyone's brand is used, is on the regularly scheduled 'SYSTEM TEST MESSAGE' which is scheduled by SUMOTEXT on the sponsor's behalf.
Can we import our existing databases into the SUMOTEXT system?
Yes, but there are several important issues to consider and legal precautions you will need to take during enrollment for us to help facilitate this process. At a minimum we will require that you maintain expressed permission on file for each number we import and that we send a double opt-in request message where the subscriber replies "YES" from their mobile phone to confirm their desire to receive your mobile alerts.
Can we target messages to specific schools, parents, or students?
Yes, but It all depends on how detailed you want the enrollment process to be. We suggest a common school district keyword for EVERYONE in the community - so that anyone can opt-in to receive alerts by just sending a text. However, when someone subscribes by sending a text, you should include a link to a web form where the subscriber can optionally browse to create a specific school or campus alert profile.
Web forms can be as simple or detailed as you want to make them. The most common method would be to collect a school or campus name - though you can get really detailed and collect grade, class, or teacher!
You can also try to collect something unique (like a Social Security #) if you wanted to try and match the subscriber to a parent or student in your existing databases. The idea is that the more data you collect - the more specific you can target your messages and the more specific privileges or permissions you can assign to district employees who might want to access the system.
How do we send messages?
The SUMOTEXT campaign management tools are online. Users can browse to our website, log in with secure credentials, select your distribution lists, type a message, schedule a time, or send now. We can also assign permissions to certain mobile phones that will allow them to send a remote message by sending a text message to the system that gets distributed.