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5 Tips for Optimizing Your Student Communications Strategy

Higher education institutions everywhere are struggling with low student retention rates. In fact, the average undergraduate dropout rate is now hovering around 40 percent. And in four-year colleges, 56 percent of students drop out within six years.

Unfortunately, there’s no easy or immediate fix to this problem. Low student retention stems from numerous factors, including lingering COVID-19 uncertainty, financial challenges, and shifting perceptions and priorities regarding education and work.

Despite this, college executives face rising pressure to combat student attrition and boost graduation rates. To address the issue, many are overhauling their communications and outreach strategies in an attempt to drive student engagement.

The fact is that students today are much different from past generations in how they communicate. Most are ultra-connected and expect instant access to digital resources and real-time support. As such, colleges and universities need to do everything they can to reach students and provide optimal experiences that meet their expectations.

Tips for Improving Your Student Communications Strategy

Here are some easy ways your institution can improve how it communicates with students.

1. Look beyond email.

Email remains an effective strategy for certain communications. However, email doesn’t always guarantee a reply due to the heavy volume of incoming messages that students receive daily. In one study, 54 percent of students said they don’t always read emails from university or academic departments.

With this in mind, your team may want to analyze how they communicate important messages and experiment with different techniques. Snail mail, phone calls, and apps could potentially increase response rates when used alongside email outreach campaigns.

2. Embrace texting.

If you’re looking to get a quick response for something like a survey, medical form, or commitment, texting could prove very effective.

That’s because text messages are easy to spot and remember. Recipients read 90 percent of text messages within three minutes. And most millennials and Gen Zers overwhelmingly prefer texting to talking in person.

3. Increase your outreach.

It’s difficult to know whether you should increase your communications or back off and respect students’ privacy. As it turns out, your college could probably double its efforts in outreach campaigns and experience stronger results.

According to one study, 90 percent of students say they want their colleges to communicate with them the same amount or more through emails, reminders, alerts, and personalized communications.

4. Personalize your outreach.

Speaking of personalization: Generic emails and text messages come across as cold and fail to reach students and speak to their specific needs.

As such, a little personalization can go a long way when communicating with students—especially when the communications involve issues that are near and dear to them. Research shows that 42 percent of students want more personalization in their college communications.

5. Use AI chatbots.

A chatbot is a software that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to simulate human conversations. Higher education chatbots live on websites and apps and provide self-service for students when they need information and assistance.

Many businesses now use AI chatbots to streamline the customer experience, and your institution can too. Creating an AI-powered campus with chatbots can provide the same modern experience that students receive from leading brands like Amazon. This is an easy and cost-effective way to enhance your digital services and help students navigate resources and discover information and opportunities.

Further, it’s also possible to use chatbots for college admissions and automatically guide students through applications and forms.

Enhance Your Communications Strategy with Ivy

Improving student retention may seem like an uphill battle. However, improving your campus’s communications strategy can foster an environment in which students feel welcomed and connected to opportunities.

If you’re looking to improve student engagement and take your institution’s communications strategy to the next level, Ivy offers a world-class chatbot service that takes just a few minutes to deploy.

Our bots transform static digital channels into dynamic self-service portals that engage with students in real time. They are also highly customizable and capable of integrating with software solutions, social channels, and even email inboxes.

To experience Ivy in action, request a demo today. To learn more about how AI chatbots can transform the education experience, check out our guide to higher education chatbots.

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