Texting at Ohio State
SMS Marketing

Interested in texting on behalf of Ohio State? You've come to the right place!

SMS Texting Standards

SMS Texting Standards at Ohio State are comprised of three requirements to be followed by all faculty and staff that send text messages on behalf of Ohio State: (1) commitments you make if you text on behalf of Ohio State; (2) a texting readiness checklist; and (3) best practices related to texting.

Texting Commitments

Texting on behalf of Ohio State can occur on several levels including 1:1, in a group text, or in a large texting campaign. By initiating texts to others on behalf of Ohio State, you are making several commitments on the practices you will follow including:

  • Have a plan. Plan how you will use texting, including describing what you are going to do and why texting is the chosen communication channel. Also consider how it supplements and/or replaces what you are doing in other communication channels.
    • Please work with your marketing and communications team to develop a texting strategy.
  • Get consent. SMS text messages for marketing and communications purposes are regulated by the Telephone Consumer Privacy Act (TCPA). To send text messages to specific audiences, the university requires that units and organizations capture and store an individual’s consent, which is required by the TCPA. The university requires that you obtain and document double opt-in consent before texting. You must obtain and document the recipient’s consent for texting according to Ohio State guidelines.
  • Manage content well. Be thoughtful about your audience including what and when you text.
    • Of course, be courteous, use professional language, and avoid swearing.
    • Avoid including personal information in texts including data covered under FERPA or financial data. Instead, tell the recipient to “go check your Buckeye Link account,” “check your email,” or “check Workday” to find more detailed information.
    • Make sure you are sharing accurate information. Pause and double check what you are texting.
    • Keep it short and succinct: limit your text character count when possible.
    • Make sure to identify yourself in the text if texting 1:1 with a student, faculty or staff.
  • Correct errors promptly. Determine a process on how you will handle the need to send out follow-up texts including who has the authority to send follow-up texts and the process for editing follow-up text content once an error is made.
  • Maintain opt-out compliance. Any texting campaign must include options for the user to opt out.
    • If a text recipient indicates “stop” and wants texting from you to stop, then make sure to take steps to be certain the recipient no longer receives texts.
    • Do not text people on the National Do Not Call Registry for texting campaigns.
  • Limit texting to regular business hours, when appropriate.
  • Use Rave for emergency notifications. Rave is the only texting tool on campus approved for sending emergency messages to the Ohio State community.
  • Consider digital accessibility before sending your text. For more information, consult the Ohio State Digital Accessibility Center.

Texting Readiness Checklist

Consider these steps when determining your unit’s readiness to begin using text messaging software.

  • Determine and document how you will collect and manage consent.
  • Determine what types of messages you will send.
  • For marketing campaigns, determine who approves the text message content before it is sent.
  • Work with your marketing team to best execute a texting campaign and coordinated strategy.
  • Complete all requirements for getting access to the texting software.
  • Complete texting vendor training.
  • Complete Ohio State Institutional Data Policy training.
  • Follow Ohio State’s texting standards.

Texting Best Practices

University employees tasked with utilizing a texting platform on behalf of the university should carefully consider these texting best practices.

  • Be aware of accidental emojis that may be created when you use a special character.
  • If sending links to users, make sure to use go links rather than an entire URL. Please also follow the Campaign Tagging Guidelines when building your go link.
  • Consider best practices for sending pictures or videos. For example, choose simple images in .jpeg format that are less than 500KB in size.
  • Establish templates for standard messages such as a welcome message.
  • Consider a balance between when you are using an institutional voice versus a personal voice. People respond better when they know that there is a person on the other end.
  • Texting should be a part of a larger marketing/communication plan and should not replace emails or other channels.
  • When appropriate, have an out of office for when you will not be monitoring the messages with a message of where people can go to address immediate concerns.
  • Include stop and start messages to give the person control over texts they want to receive.

Frequently Asked Questions

Tools and Process

What are the preferred texting solutions at Ohio State?
Signal Vine is being utilized for several prospective and current student use case. This is the preferred vendor for 1:1 messaging or for audiences not onboarded onto Salesforce Marketing Cloud. Signal Vine also has mass messaging capabilities.

Salesforce Marketing Cloud (SFMC) allows users to send mass messages to opted in audiences and to create auto responses to pre-defined keywords within a short code (not made for 1:1 messaging). SFMC is also great for integrating SMS campaigns with email marketing campaigns also running through the platform.

How can my department start texting our audiences using one of these platforms?
The first step is to submit your texting proposal. Your use case will be reviewed by the Texting Governance Committee.

Can my department start texting using a different tool?
While we recognize that many tools can send text messages, it's important to provide transparency in how consent to send texts are captured, stored, and managed. The university-selected solutions have these integration requirements in mind. If your department already has texting capabilities in place, let us know. If you want to begin texting and are searching for the right solution, reach out to the Texting Governance Committee to share your needs and we can evaluate on a case-by-case basis.

What is the Texting Governance Committee?
The purpose of the Texting Governance Committee is to provide oversight and coordination of texting on behalf of Ohio State. This includes setting texting standards, creating requirements for consent, coordinating the use of texting technology, and reviewing proposals to text.

The Committee is comprised of university leaders whose role or interest aligns with communications, marketing, privacy, risk and/or areas that want to text large portions of the university community. Members are appointed by the Committee co-chairs, Jennifer Elliott and Ashley Gorden.

Consent

Is the university considering adding an opt-in during any of our processes like the admissions application, so individual units do not have to each do it?
Yes! This work is in progress – more to come.

Do you have suggested wording for gathering consent on a form, website, app, etc.?
If you’re using a both a web opt-in form to gather consent and a short code to text your audience, carriers will require specific text to be on the web opt-in page. According to Offprem, a vendor that has helped Ohio State acquire short codes:

Your web opt-in form(s) should contain the following: Campaign sponsor, Campaign description, Frequency of messaging, Customer support information (HELP), Opt-Out information (STOP), Additional carrier costs (e.g. Msg&Data Rates May Apply), T&Cs link, Privacy Policy link, and TCPA language (e.g. “By opting in, I authorize the seller to deliver marketing messages using an automatic telephone dialing system and I understand that I am not required to opt in as a condition of purchasing any property, goods, or services”).

A standalone form specifically to opt in to your Campaign is recommended, as it's most transparent and thus easiest to get Carriers to approve. If the only purpose of the page is to opt-in to your SMS Campaign, a button with verbiage that's clear they're opting in is sufficient. If the SMS Campaign opt-in is on a form with other info or other purposes, the opt-in has to be affirmative and it has to be very obvious that they can choose not to opt-in to the SMS Campaign. As such, if you're not using a standalone form then radio buttons are recommended. For example, a "Yes, opt me in" radio button vs a "Don't opt me in to text messages" radio button with the "No" option being selected by default. If you'd prefer to use a checkbox that's unchecked by default, this will often work, though sometimes Carriers ask for a radio button if they feel the checkbox isn't obvious enough. If the opt-in is part of a series of pages, screen shots of the end to end user experience are required.

Mobile opt-in is for a specific mobile number, not a blanket opt-in for a Subscriber. As such, we recommend that the mobile number being opted in be close in proximity on the page to the opt-in checkbox. Adding the line "By leaving this box unchecked you will not be opted in for SMS messages at this time." to the opt in text would suffice for the "no" checkbox/radio button requirement The minimum required components for a web opt form are as follows:

  1. Clear Call to Action as a header
  2. Mobile Phone field near the opt in checkbox
  3. Opt in the checkbox with text similar to the following: "By selecting this checkbox I agree to receive SMS accounts updates and promotional messages from [Company Name]. Message frequency varies. Text HELP to [Short Code] for help, Text STOP to [Short Code] to end. Msg&Data Rates May Apply. By opting in, I authorize [Company Name] to deliver SMS messages using an automatic telephone dialing system and I understand that I am not required to opt in as a condition of purchasing any property, goods, or services. By leaving this box unchecked you will not be opted in for SMS messages at this time. Click to read Terms and Conditions, Privacy Policy"
  4. Links to the Mobile Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.

For more information on acquiring a short code via Offprem, please contact marketingenablement@osu.edu

We also like these examples of how OSAS is collecting initial consent on the Common App:

Screenshot OSAS Opt-in form

and the Internal App:

Screenshot OSAS Opt-in internal app

Does the university have an opt-out policy in place? How do recipients opt out?
Recipients can reply STOP to the text message they would like to stop receiving. Recipients or faculty/staff (on behalf of a recipient) can also send an email to privacy@osu.edu.

How can I find out if someone has opted out?
The texting tool (e.g., Signal Vine, Salesforce Marketing Cloud, etc.) stores preferences. The university is working to evolve and enhance end-user preference management – more to come!

Can you share examples or best practices for gathering consent?
Yes. When you submit your texting proposal and receive approval from the Texting Governance Committee, you'll have access to a variety of best practices.

Should I start to gather consent without a set plan for texting?
This is not recommended, as developing a plan and setting up a tool for your use case could take time. In that time, information could change, plus your recipients could forget they opted in and/or no longer be interested. It's also difficult to be specific about what you're asking people to opt in to if you don't have the details yourself.

Patients

Are there additional guidelines for clinical research when using text as a form of communications? How does it differ from use with patients in the OSUMC?
So far, the Texting Governance Team hasn't tackled this use case, but can definitely help find an answer.

How can we ensure our SMS program is HIPAA compliant?
Through the process of implementing a texting solution, the team will review the use case to ensure that HIPAA requirements are met.

What methods would you advise that are most secure for contacting participants for study follow-up and dispersing compensation?
This is an interesting question. So far, the Texting Governance Team hasn't tackled this use case, but can definitely help find a solution.

Will OSU look at texting from office numbers (e.g., Teams, IHIS, Doximity) to reach patients?
Not at this time.

Have a question? Contact the Texting Governance Committee