What is a mass notification system?
A mass notification system is a software platform that empowers you to send the same communication across multiple channels — including email, text, voice, mobile app, your website and social media — all at once.
When should a school use a mass notification system?
With mass notification systems, there are the obvious use cases: cancellations, reminders, and urgent notices such as:
- Snow day
- Postponed school event
- Transportation delays
- Campus is closing early
- Covid-19 related notifications
Your mass notification system doesn’t have to be reserved for emergency use. It can and should be the most important part of your everyday communications strategy. Ensuring your mass notifications system includes all of your main communications mediums like email newsletters, text, website alerts and social media channels will allow you to do it all in one single platform, saving you time and streamlining your efforts.
Need to send your email newsletter, a text reminder and a social media push all at once? There’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to do that using your mass communications system. Need to send a mobile app and website alert while you’re at it? You’ll save hours of time by having everything bundled in one mass notifications toolbox.
Finalsite’s Messages XR is one of the only mass notifications systems that includes integrated, branded and beautiful newsletter templates. There’s no need for a third-party vendor to send wow-worthy emails. What’s more? You can dynamically pull content for your newsletter directly from your website using Create Once Publish Everywhere (C.O.P.E.) functionality. Already wrote something that appears in your website’s news section? It will automatically feed into your newsletter if you want it to, so there’s no need to do the work twice.
Pro Tip: At the beginning of each school year, develop a communication plan that outlines how and when each of your communication channels will be used. For example, maybe you’ll choose to only send texts when something is urgent, and more regular communications will come via email. Communicate this with your families so they know, for example, that when they receive that text from your school or district, it’s really important.
What are the benefits of a mass notification system?
Mass notification systems are an essential part of any school or district’s communications plan because they offer fast, consistent, and secure messages across multiple important communication channels.
A few key benefits include:
Speedy cross-channel delivery: Whether you have an urgent notification about a school closing, or you want to remind families about an upcoming board meeting, a mass notification system empowers you to reach a large segment of your audience on multiple channels through one software platform.
Consistent messaging: Consistent messaging across vehicles is key to any successful communications strategy. A mass notification system takes the guesswork out of streamlining messaging by automatically pushing the same content to multiple channels. A good system will allow you the flexibility to customize each message depending on where it is read.
Save time: For school communications professionals, doing it all is just part of the job. Saving time is always of the essence. A mass communication platform should empower you to create a single piece of content, and push it to numerous channels at the same time with just one click.
Translation tools: More than 20% of Americans do not speak English at home. And for schools and districts serving diverse communities, that percentage may be even greater. Some mass notification platforms — including Finalsite’s Messages XR — have integrated translation to automatically send messages in your community’s preferred languages.
Personalized messaging: Not everyone wants to receive information the same way. With the right mass notifications system, you can allow parents, teachers and staff to choose which type of information they want to receive, and where – making your communications more personalized.
What makes a good mass notification system?
Choosing any software for your school or district is no easy feat — and selecting a mass notification system is no different. Ease of use is important, so, before looking at new providers, take a look at your current website provider to see if they offer a mass notification system.
- Comprehensive message channels: Email, text, voice, mobile app, website and social media. You don’t always want to send every message to every platform out there, but if and when you do, it’s important to have the flexibility and the breadth of options.
- Reliability and security: A reliable delivery network ensures your community receives messages on time, and securely.
- Powerful data integrations: Your communications are only as good as your data. When urgent communications need to be sent, you don’t want to have to worry about double-checking your email lists. Robust integrations ensure your contact lists are accurate and up-to-date.
- Sender phone numbers (goodbye short codes!): In 2022, the number of companies (and spam) who rely on texting for communications is higher than ever. Consider choosing a notification system that offers your district — and each individual school — its own unique phone number. Finalsite’s Messages XR creates a unique 1-800 number for each school, making it easier for parents to identify who the message is coming from.
- Translation capabilities: Mass notifications are effective because they reach everyone quickly. But if messages aren’t sent in a recipient’s native language, important information can be lost in translation — literally. With Finalsite’s Messages XR, messages can be translated into over 100 languages. What’s more, messages sent with Messages XR maintain the original design and format, ensuring inclusivity and a seamless experience across your whole community.
- Message types: Concerned about the fatal “unsubscribe?” Choose a platform that allows you to distinguish between "administrative" and "promotional" messages. So if parents have unsubscribed from promotional emails about events, they’ll still receive your text alerts about a snow day.
- Message customization: While it’s convenient to push the same message everywhere, it isn’t always a best practice. For example, email newsletter content should look different than a text, and a tweet should look different than a Facebook post — especially for non-urgent communications.
- Integrated email newsletters: While email newsletters are a mainstay in most communications plans, they aren’t always part of the package when it comes to a mass notifications system. Make sure your tool comes with the ability to develop and send beautiful email newsletters so you’re not having to log in and out of different systems and your contact data comes from one source.
- Bundled with your website: When your mass notification system is bundled with your website, you save time and resources, and everything is just easier because all of your communications are integrated in a create once, publish everywhere system.
Mass notification systems are a key piece of any school or district’s communications strategy as they enable you to quickly and effectively communicate with your entire community across numerous platforms. Whether you need to text or call everyone with an urgent update, or send your weekly email newsletter, a good mass communication system will empower you to be more effective, efficient, and do your job better.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As Finalsite's director of demand generation, Mia plans and executes a variety of inbound marketing and digital content strategies. As a former TV and news reporter, freelance cinematographer and certified inbound marketer, Mia specializes in helping schools find new ways to share their stories online through web design, social media, copywriting, photography and videography. She is the author of numerous blogs, eBooks, and reports, including Finalsite's Inbound Marketing Benchmark Report.