How can a university improve communication with prospective students when their response to email, phone calls or voicemails is spotty at best?
Bowling Green State University reaches out to thousands of prospective students and enrolls over 3,000 freshmen each year. In order to keep enrollment numbers high and dropout rates low, BGSU relies upon establishing a one-to-one rapport with students. But in recent years, with technology ever-increasing, their standard communication efforts were flagging.
Historically, BSGU’s main method for communication was postcards, email and personal phone calls from counselors and current students. BGSU would make between 1,200 and 1,500 nightly calls to high school students. Typically, however, 60-85% of those calls went unanswered. Across campus, the problem was pervasive: students did not respond to emails, did not answer their phones, and did not listen to voicemails. As a result, students were not receiving crucial information about application, orientation, financial aid, and events.
The communication center had expanded their social media efforts, but they needed a personalized, 1:1 channel that every student would use in order to be successful. What solution offered a comprehensive approach with a near-perfect onboarding number?
Implement text messaging to reinforce existing communications and reach students with critical information.
It’s no secret that students are glued to their cell phones. People aged 18-24 are the highest texting demographic in the U.S., sending and receiving over 180 texts per day. Although BGSU still prefers to speak directly with students to establish that initial relationship, when they don’t pick up, a follow-up text message will ensure that the message gets through.
To launch their new text messaging initiative, BGSU posted their mobile call to action “Text BGSU to 877877” across campus and on existing social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. A mobile call to action was also promoted at incoming freshman orientations as “Text FALCON to 877877” and even parents (Text FALCON PARENT) were asked to opt in via text message to receive important updates and alerts about next steps.
98% of incoming students opted in to receive updates through text messaging.
BGSU’s new communication strategy was a huge success! 98% of students opted in to their text message campaigns by texting a key word to the shortcode. As a result, they were immediately able to begin receiving important updates on everything from orientation reminders, to how to pay their housing, to finding information about scholarship deadlines. BGSU also found Mobile Commons’ live SMS chat to be an overwhelmingly popular feature of their mobile campaign. Within minutes of going live, dozens of students started sending in their questions via text message. Sandy Mencer, Director of the Student Enrollment Communication Center at BGSU, points out that because text messaging is convenient, remote and secure, students were asking questions they would never ask in person. She was thrilled with the success of their mobile programs.
“In the five years I’ve managed the communication center, Mobile Commons is the best platform I’ve ever purchased. Hands down.” -Sandy Mencer, Director of Student Enrollment Communications