Students live via their smart phones. Ever heard anyone say, “I feel naked without my phone?” If a student doesn’t have his/her phone in an easily accessible location, something just isn’t right. They don’t turn their phones off at night, or even during class. In fact, they don’t even consider it.
Herein lies a potential gold mine to marketers. Students’ constant need to feel connected means they will see any message sent to them instantly, and in that same instant they will make a decision about the message and the brand. A student will subconsciously ask him/herself a series of questions; “Does this warrant a reply? Should I follow the suggested hyperlink right now? Shall I save it to re-read later? Should it be deleted, or worse, should I request to unsubscribe?” After considering each of these reactions in the time it takes to blink, you have either missed out on a potential customer or have gained a new impression. Your goal as a marketer is to secure this impression.
Managing this relationship is tricky. You can make it or break it in a second. The rewards have potential to be huge, but with that comes risk. Here are some tips to guide you:
Send SMS Messages to Students With Caution
We mentioned that students are pretty intimate with their cells. They keep them close to their body, and they even sleep with them very close by. Coming between these two can have serious consequences. Not only are they offended by your abrupt impersonal message, but they will also associate negative emotions, fueled by unfulfilled expectations, with your brand. Kim was expecting for Ian to ask her on a date, instead she got a text about a last minute sale. What a let down! There is a way to wiggle into this relationship. To carefully navigate this relationship, Michael Becker, North America managing director for the Mobile Marketing Association, recommends encouraging a reply that will generate a conversation. “Each interaction allows a marketer to learn more about the consumer, what they want and need and the value you can deliver to them.” Although marketers should strive to deliver messages that are targeted to the user across all verticals, SMS may be the most important. If you don’t have something relevant and timely to say, then SMS is not your channel.
Facebook them some discounts
Facebook can be a great tool. Companies like Victoria’s Secret Pink (7 million fans), Starbucks (20 million fans), and even Spongebob Squarepants (17 million fans) have harnessed the viral power of social media on Facebook. According to a focus group conducted by StudentUniverse Media, comprised of college students aged 19-22, many feel that Facebook is a place to connect with friends and would prefer to keep in touch with businesses on Twitter, where messages are easier to navigate. However, many admit to following businesses on Facebook when they feel there is an opportunity to get discounts. Students do claim to check both Facebook and Twitter from their mobile phones regularly.
Twitter is easy, convenient, and student approved. Students will get your message shortly after you tweet it since they voluntarily check Twitter all day via their iPhone, Blackberry, or Droid. Best of all, Twitter facilitates an interactive conversation and gets always opinionated students directly engaged. Lastly, tweets are short and sweet. When working with the attention span of a student, conciseness is vital.
Do you have an app for that?
Apps are fun. They keep students engaged and are always just a touch away. Whether your company has an app, or chooses to advertise on one, apps are a great place to be these days. According to Juniper Research, revenue from mobile content and apps are expected to reach $10 billion by 2015.
Send Mobile-Optimized Emails
Students like to see emails once a week or every other week. As long as the content is relevant to them, they will open them. Remember to keep the subject line simple. Don’t try to personalize a subject line with the user’s name. Students see through mass customization. Instead, try to catch their attention with a relevant subject. Most students have smart phones or feature phones, so they will see the email from their mobile right away. QA your emails before sending and make sure they look as smart as the phones they are read on.
Reaching students through their cell phones can be a golden opportunity. Be careful how you approach this tactic though. You are reaching them through a very personal method of communication, and managing this requires careful planning.