In the Higher Ed world, we constantly have to adapt our communication strategies and tools to meet students where they are. Over the past few months, TargetX teams have been speaking with admissions counselors, advisors, faculty, administrators, but most importantly, students. Our conversations are focused on understanding the regular changes in their educational environment and how we can most effectively support them with TargetX products.

During our conversations with students, we – unsurprisingly – discovered they prefer a quick text message over a phone call or email for their admissions and advising needs. A phone call might be warranted for longer or more serious issues, but in general, texts are the communication method of choice.

Understanding the student’s needs and working with several of our clients in the design and testing, TargetX launched our newest tool, TX SMS!

One of our early adopters of TX SMS was the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Transfer Admissions Counselor at UWL, Amanda Lettner, utilizes the TargetX texting tool a lot with her transfer students noting that “the students are good at responding.” Additionally, she likes that she can create a report and modify the message and send it when it works best for her.

As Amanda and other early adopter users discovered, our new SMS tool allows you to send 1-1 and bulk messages to students while giving you total control of your messaging strategy – whether that’s one big inbox for everyone or a phone number for each user. Some of the cool features include:

  • A dedicated number to send text messages – with the ability to add additional numbers, yourself, very quickly!
  • The integration with Twilio Messaging Services to build student relationships with secure, cross-channel conversations.
  • Customize Opt-Out / Opt-In messages.
  • Organize your numbers into different “Inboxes” with a many-to-many relationship between numbers, users, and inboxes.
  • Within each Inbox, you control who has access to send individual messages and bulk messages.

An essential step before setting up for TX SMS is developing a texting strategy, as this will make your initial setup and rollout to your internal teams much simpler.

The steps in this blog post will lay out a hypothetical example to demonstrate one potential strategy, but obviously, you can adapt this to suit your needs. At the end of these steps, you should have a good idea of how many inboxes you need in TX SMS and how many phone numbers you should purchase inside Twilio to power those inboxes.

  1. First, identify any departments that need collective inboxes, where end-users will share responsibility for sending out and receiving messages. For TX University, we have decided that the only collective inbox will be a generic “Admissions Inbox” that will push out large scale admissions reminders that anyone can respond to as messages come in
  2. Next, identify any individuals who need their own inbox for sending and receiving more personal messages. For TX University, we’ve decided that all 10 of our admissions counselors should have their own inboxes to really build that personal relationship with their prospects. We’ve also decided that our 5 academic counselors should have inboxes to communicate with current students who need assistance with course selection and the like.
  3. Now, determine how many phone numbers are required for each inbox:
    1. If this inbox will not be used for bulk messages, it only needs one number. None of our counselors will be using bulk messages in their individual inboxes at TX University.
    2. If the inbox will be used for bulk, try to estimate the largest bulk message you’ll need to send this term. For our case, TX University generally has 6,000 applications per term, and at one point in the cycle, we want to push out a “thank you for applying” message.As the maximum recommended messages per phone number per day are 250, we’ll want to divide our biggest message volume by that, which gives us 24.So in this inbox, we’ll want at minimum 24 phone numbers, plus a buffer to account for imperfect distribution, so let’s round up to 30 numbers
  4. For TX University, then, we’ll need a messaging service with 30 phone numbers in the sender pool and 15 services, all with one phone number each in the sending pool.

Starting with a texting strategy will be key to your institution’s success in utilizing the new TX SMS tool!

To check out how TX SMS tool works and looks, check out our latest Product Spotlight: TX SMS Demo. You can also visit the TargetX User Community “Knowledge Base” to for a full overview of the product or contact your Client Success Manager.