Blackboard Launches 2-Way SMS Platform in United States Powerful, Proven Blackboard ConnectTxt Boosts Community Engagement

WASHINGTON, July 9, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Blackboard Inc. today announced the U.S. release of Blackboard ConnectTxt, a 2-way mass notification platform. With Blackboard ConnectTxt, users can send text messages and emails to a broad audience, through a powerful inbound messaging engine, and receive replies via text as well. Blackboard ConnectTxt already helps more than 500 customers around the world – including more than half of all colleges and universities in the United Kingdom – improve response rates to communications and strengthen community engagement and participation.

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According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 73 percent of mobile phone owners are active SMS users, and young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 send and receive an average of 3,200 text messages every month(1). Using Blackboard ConnectTxt, education, government and private organizations can leverage the popularity of text messaging for more meaningful conversations.

"Texting has quickly become the communication method of choice for many of us, and Blackboard ConnectTxt helps leaders make the most of this channel's unique strengths," said Ed Miller, president of Blackboard Connect. "When you communicate with people in the mode they prefer, response rates and community engagement improve, and organizations can better measure the overall effectiveness of their communications."

The admissions office of Westminster College, a private liberal arts college in Salt Lake City, participated in a pilot of Blackboard ConnectTxt. Officials used the system in an effort to increase response rates from prospective students that had not completed their applications and who were unresponsive by phone and email. In all, officials received responses from over 50 percent of the recipients.

"Communications have changed; while email, phone calls and direct mail are still viable tools, effectively connecting with students today means having a mobile conversation," said Dana Simmons, director of e-marketing and outreach at Westminster College. "Incorporating Blackboard ConnectTxt into our recruitment strategy has proven that students are willing to respond if you connect with them in the right way."

The core Blackboard ConnectTxt messaging engine processes and routes inbound SMS with unique keywords, shortcodes and standard codes, QR codes, and inbox filters and workflow rules. These tools enable customers to improve communications and strengthen relationships with their communities by enabling clients to:

  • Increase response rates: text messaging is more immediate and interactive than email or other modes of communication. Blackboard ConnectTxt users report significantly higher open and response rates when communicating via SMS.
  • Establish text-based hotlines: institutions can invite community members to use Blackboard ConnectTxt to report issues or problems, or to request assistance.
  • Drive contact database registration: organizations can encourage members to sign up for community updates by registering by text.
  • Run real-time SMS surveys: clients can run live, text-based surveys to make presentations, lectures and community programs more interactive.
  • Track message delivery: audit capabilities enable users to track message delivery to reduce errors and improve quality of database.
  • Integrate mobile into marketing campaigns: Shortcodes, keywords and QR codes make it easy for recipients to interact with marketing campaigns, print collateral and social media.

Blackboard ConnectTxt also offers a range of outbound messaging capabilities. Users can leverage mail merge tools to personalize each message, plan and schedule message distribution, and track message delivery. Visual demonstrations of Blackboard ConnectTxt and its specific applications for K-12, higher education, government and the private sector are available at http://www.blackboard.com/connecttxt.

Pricing & Availability: Blackboard ConnectTxt is available immediately for U.S. clients. A wide range of pricing packages are available to existing Blackboard Connect customers, as well as standalone packages for other institutions. Text MOREINFO to 97178 for more information.

About Blackboard Inc.

Blackboard Inc. is a global leader in enterprise technology and innovative solutions that improve the experience of millions of students and learners around the world every day. Blackboard's solutions allow thousands of higher education, K-12, professional, corporate, and government organizations to extend teaching and learning online, facilitate campus commerce and security, and communicate more effectively with their communities. Founded in 1997, Blackboard is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with offices in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.

Any statements in this press release about future expectations, plans and prospects for Blackboard represent the Company's views as of the date of this press release. Actual results may differ materially as a result of various important factors. The Company anticipates that subsequent events and developments will cause the Company's views to change. However, while the Company may elect to update these statements at some point in the future, the Company specifically disclaims any obligation to do so.

(1) Pew Internet & American Life Project, Americans and Text Messaging, 2011

SOURCE Blackboard Inc.



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