Feel like you need some guidance prior to sending out your first text campaign? Consider utilizing these best practices when implementing and using your Ocelot Texting platform. 


  • Since testing this product is as simple as creating and sending test campaigns to your own phone, there is no distinct test environment for Texting. Utilize staff phone numbers to make a small person contact list (name/mobile phone) so that all Texting agents may generate sample campaigns.
  • Clearly label your test contact lists and campaigns so that they can be easily differentiated from your "live" lists and campaigns.

Contact Lists

  • Think about the groups/cohorts of students you want to nudge throughout the academic year. You may have several lists and use cases for each contact list. If you load these first before creating a campaign, it will help you to eliminate duplicate lists and establish consistency in your ongoing effort.
  • Upload a new contact list when you have significant changes and don't want to maintain the old list. Clone an existing contact list if you only have a few small changes to make (i.e. you have a few students to add or remove in order to send another campaign to that list).
  • If you do not have a header row in your CSV file, select "header row". If the field does not have a title, you will be prompted to create one after uploading the list into the system.
  • To maintain ongoing organization with your contact lists and campaigns:
    • Include date information in the title (e.g.,  20-21 Admissions Applicants 1/1/21)
    • Utilize tags, which will adhere to search filters (e.g., Fall applicants 21/22, Spring applicants 21/22, FAFSA Follow-up, Graduation Requirements, Testing Requirements)

Reusable Phone Numbers

  • Set up reusable phone numbers for specific uses. 
    • Open, ongoing use (not used in campaigns) - Set up a reusable phone number to promote to your student population as a number assigned to a specific office or a counselor to text anytime. This number can be agent-backed or bot-backed. If the reusable phone number is agent-backed, you can set the inbox settings for the responses to be sent to either an office inbox or a specific agent. 

      For more information on reusable phone numbers, review the Utilizing Reusable Number article. 

    • Assign reusable phone numbers to specific offices to be used in campaigns - this creates a recognizable phone number students can recognize as communication coming from one office.
  • Using reusable phone numbers also creates a better user experience. If a student responds to a campaign after it has been archived, the message will follow the unsolicited message settings of the reusable phone number. 

Agent-backed vs. Bot-backed Campaigns

  • Agent-backed (responses to your texts are fully managed by your staff)
    • For agent-backed campaigns managed by multiple agents, consider separating the contact list for cohorts by agent so each agent may engage with their assigned cohort on the Active Campaign page. Create a tag with each agent's name for each applicable campaign. The agent will then be able to use their own name in the search bar to populate their screen with just their own lists.
  • Bot-backed (responses to your texts are managed by your chatbot, with the option for agents to jump into any conversation)

    For tips on how to best use your AI chatbot to support your text conversations, review our Bot-backed Campaign Best Practices article.

Consider the format of your text message

For more information on being strategic with the messages your send to your audience, review the Texting Formatting Best Practices article.

Opt-in or Opt-out?

  • If you haven't already established a texting expectation with your audience, consider:
    • Using your first campaign to announce the service to your entire community and inviting them to opt-out if desired.
    • Adding a related question to your admissions application to allow future students to opt out before receiving a text in the first place.
    • In every text, consider ending your message with directions on how to opt-out, if desired. 
    • Consider using the Opt-Out template in your initial message to students. 

For phrases and keywords that a texting participant may use to opt out, review the What are the standard phrases for a student to opt-out of 1:1 Texts or Campaigns keyword responses? article.

Establish internal policies

  • For agents to review and respond to campaigns, both agent-backed and bot-backed, within a specific time period. Be sure to communicate this expectation in your messages, so students understand when they can expect a response.
  • About how often your department will text students, and for what purposes. Texts should always be timely and relevant, or risk being seen as spam by recipients. The most efficient messages include a clear call to action, or ask the student a question.
  • Around how texting fits into your institution's overall communication plan. If other departments are also texting students, consider using a shared calendar to coordinate campaigns so students are not overwhelmed by a deluge of simultaneous texts from multiple senders.
  • For collecting and using data about engagement to improve your future campaigns. Tracking open rate, then making adjustments to language or campaign type and noting any differences in engagement is a relatively simple way to test what works best with your student audience and guide future decisions around campaign structure and content.

Best Practice: Texting strategy is dependent on may factors that are unique to your institution and the students you serve. While there is no "one size fits all" approach for running successful campaigns, we recommend some very general benchmarks:
  • texting an individual student no more than 5 times weekly, with higher-volume weeks reserved for impending deadlines or other time-sensitive calls to action
  • aiming for a minimum engagement rate of between 25%-30%