It’s all in the text: SMS lures OS students

Direct mail to contact students was proving a waste of time and money for IDP Education Australia, a not-for-profit organization owned by 38 of Australia's 39 universities.

With a virtual and physical network spread across 90 offices in 50 countries, the organization charged with the task of identifying and converting overseas visitors into international students, had to get with the times. After all, students are a customer base that rarely stays in one place for long,

"We hold a database of potential students that come into our offices looking for suitable university courses," according to Sumi Soorian, IDP's client business manager. "Once they are registered we invite them to recruitment events where they can meet with educational institutions that fulfil their learning requirements. Doing that by direct mail wasn't providing a good enough response for the money we were spending."

IDP turned to Campaign Messenger, a .Net-based SMS marketing solution from Bond Wireless. A small, secure application that sits on desktops at IDP's offices holds its customer data. And when the company wants to send a marketing message, it communicates with Bond Wireless' mobile gateway via an XML Web service. Bond Wireless promises access to most - if not all - of the mobile networks worldwide.

The technology also lets IDP monitor responses and effectiveness of each campaign.

Contacting potential students by SMS worked wonders for IDP. "We send around 3000 text messages each time there is a recruitment event and our research showed that 60 percent of attendees are there as a result of a marketing reminder received by text," Soorian said. "The end result has been that we've been able to drop direct mail altogether."

Campaign Messenger is just one part of a suite of .Net-based SMS communication tools from Bond Wireless. "Companies are becoming more open to using SMS as a business tool," Dr Clarence Tan, Bond Wireless' executive chairman said. "As well as marketing projects, we are seeing more and more take-up for internal communications and applications in the retail space."

Basing its platform on .Net technologies has advantages for both end users and developers of its products, said Gareth Edwards, technical manager at Bond Wireless.

"Using .Net Web services means that while the communications platform sits on our servers, our customers' data is held securely at their site," he said. "Also, .Net provides an easy path to migrate our applications onto mobile devices and lets developers create their own applications that communicate with our platform. Finally, it means we can update the platform without having to go anywhere near the client-side application."

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