omnichannel - 7 best practices blog series 1

5 Steps to Omnichannel Success

When reaching out to students for higher education enrollment, using a third-party call center provides the extra advantage you need to reach your enrollment goals. Considering all of the added challenges you currently face to reach – or exceed – your enrollment goals, isn’t it comforting to know that a tried and proven approach is available to you?

As part of the 7 Best Practices for Enrollment, AnswerNet Education Services outlined several possibilities to improve your enrollment strategies; one of which included making the most of omnichannel communication in conjunction with your call center partner.

What is Omnichannel Communication?

Omnichannel communication is a method which utilizes all channels for communication such as live calls, email, SMS texts, and live chats, instead of one singular channel. In the modern age, humanity has so many means of communications – and not just phone calls. That’s why forward-thinking businesses and higher education institutions employ omnichannel solutions, giving their audiences the communication means they prefer.

Why is Omnichannel Communication Important for Students?

Times are changing, and the intricacies of the current generation of teenaged enrollees is proof of that. The way they choose to communicate with your institution changes just as rapidly as the times. If you want to get their attention and keep them engaged, you need to adapt to their way of communicating.

Additionally, it’s important to consider your non-traditional students as well. Catering only to the youngest group means that your non-traditional students may not have the access to you in which they prefer. Providing omnichannel communication, however, ensures your full student body can utilize the method they prefer above all else.

5 Steps to Omnichannel Success in Higher Education

Even before the pandemic accelerated the trend of omnichannel communication, savvy business leaders knew the best place to meet consumers is where they choose to be. This same logic applies to higher education. If you want to find success in omnichannel solutions, consider these 5 steps:

1.      Determine Students’ Preferred Method of Communication

High school students – and younger generations in general – often prefer the use of SMS texts. It’s a phenomenon seen in all industries, not just higher education. In fact, a study by Omnisend in 2020 stated that campaigns which included SMS texts were 47.7% more likely to end in conversion. However, this isn’t always the norm.

The best way to identify your students’ preferred method of communication is to conduct a test. Provide the same exact message in a variety of formats, including email, text, chat, and live and automated calls. Record data from every interaction and determine which one(s) achieved the most success for your institution.

2.      Create Campaigns in the Right Channels

After conducting your test and determining the most viable channels for your students, the time comes to utilize them. Create campaigns within these channels that reach out to students and educate them on your institution.

It’s good idea to target parents as well since they’re often key decision makers within the household. In this case, you may also want to test which channels have the greatest impact on parents of prospective students to ensure you’re delivering the right message in the right place.

3.      Develop a Communication Cadence

With campaigns and the right channels in place, you need to develop an appropriate rhythm or frequency in your messaging. For example, should you send a message weekly, monthly, or bi-monthly?

The best way to answer that question is by asking your own current students. Send a poll and ask how frequently they would feel comfortable hearing from an institution? How much is too much? And of course, once you have that information, test it.

4.      Offer Something Useful

There’s no better way to grab an audience’s attention than with content they can utilize. Consider creating brochures, guides, or other helpful tools that prospective students (and parents) would find useful – and make it free!

One of the biggest challenges in communication is ensuring your audience actually opens the message and reads it.

Put yourself in the shoes of a new student. If they see your message is nothing more than a wall of text, chances are slim that they’ll actually read it. However, if you include useful content, and make your offer aesthetically pleasing, they’ll leap for it. And once that content grabs their attention, they’ll be much more willing to read your message and learn more about your institution – converting a passive onlooker into an interested potential student.

5.      Follow-Up and Stay in Touch

When you have your audience’s attention, you cannot let it go. Continue with your cadence and follow-up with all new leads that come through. Keep them engaged, and assign them to admissions advisors who can answer their questions and guide them through the enrollment process.

Following-up and staying in touch is possibly one of the most important steps in the entire omnichannel process. Once a prospective student or parent has reached this make or break point, you need to ensure you’re right there to help them in any way you can.

Choose a Partner That’s Right for You

Upon reading through these steps, you may be thinking that you don’t have the infrastructure to maintain omnichannel communication on this scale. That’s a very legitimate concern, and many institutions reach the same conclusion.

The answer lies within the assistance of a contact center partner. A contact center partner can handle all your outreach and communication needs based on your institution’s specifications.

Who do you choose? AnswerNet Education Services is your single-source communications partner for admissions and enrollment, retention, financial aid, and other student support services. We work closely with colleges and universities just like yours by delivering comprehensive, scalable enrollment management solutions across the student life cycle. We help identify, enroll, and retain students, thereby helping you to increase tuition revenue.

To learn more about utilizing an omni-channel enrollment strategy to bolster your institution’s enrollment, schedule a consultation today!