There’s a reason omni-channel communication comes highly recommended from experts.
However, open rates vary widely depending on the audience and the medium. Choosing the right omni-channel provider for a higher education institution is no exception.
Research from a study conducted by Mobile Marketing Watch shows that text messages have a 98% open rate while emails often hover on the lower end of nearly 20%. So, who can you turn to for help?
Why are Omni-Channel Solutions Important?
The global economy is in a great deal of flux currently, for more reasons than one. Institutions large and small recognize this and feel its weight. How they respond to that added pressure determines whether they survive or thrive.
The institutions that push through and succeed are those strategically responding and adapting to these changes by targeting their prospective students where they’re at – using messaging appropriate to their needs.
An omni-channel strategy enhances the customer experience on mobile, website, email, social media, and other relevant platforms. Institutions are able to effectively touch-base with their audience when and where their guidance is needed most.
But still, the question remains: should you spend your efforts on all channels or focus specifically on a select group of channels to reach your audience?
How to Use the Right Mix of Omni-channel Communication
Generally, omni-channel solutions are a great avenue for any business. However, some channels or channel mixes may be more beneficial to your niche than others. Follow these steps:
1. Define and Understand Your Goals
Think about your institution, your goals, and your prospective students. What type of students are you hoping to attract? Do you prefer to focus on fresh high school graduates? Maybe you want to increase your reach to international students? Or do you simply want to encourage more non-traditional students to take interest in your campus?
This step may take a bit of research. And the best place to start is your own social media. As an institutional decision maker, where do you spend most of your time online?
For many higher education institutions, all channels are beneficial. But if you’re looking for a specific niche – nontraditional students, for example – you may have better luck with Facebook than other mediums.
Also, consider your goals and where you want your institution to be a year or more from now. What does that vision look like? You can even take inspiration from your competition. If they’re succeeding – and attracting the body of students you want – what are they doing right?
2. Assess Your Current Needs
What does your institution need in the short term to take it to the next level? Are your current social pages struggling to reach the right audience? Are they reaching any audience at all?
Once you have identified your core audience, you have to make sure your omni-channel solution is actually reaching them. If you feel you’re struggling with social alone, try email marketing.
Email marketing is easy and relatively affordable for institutions of all sizes. It allows you to send a commercial message to specific groups of people through email. If you have a good list of contacts or leads, this is a great way to educate them, engage with them, and even provide links or ways of connecting with your other channels.
3. Create a Shortlist of Providers
Now that you better understand your goals and your immediate needs, you may be feeling overwhelmed. That’s ok! The more your institution grows, the more help you’ll need to manage your omni-channel solutions.
When it comes to finding the right solution provider for you, Google is your friend. Search for the best omni-channel providers, and you’ll get hundreds of thousands of results.
Spend some time researching the first few providers that appear on the first page. Consider their capabilities, their methodologies, and their pricing. Eventually, you’ll have a shortlist of providers that most closely matches the needs of your business.
4. Discuss the Pros and Cons
With a shortlist of providers in hand, the time comes to narrow down the list. Consider the pros and cons of each provider – and ask for help from other leaders in your business. Choosing the right provider is a big decision and can have a major impact on the future of your business.
The best way to determine pros and cons is to outline what areas you put more weight on. For example, if you have a tight budget, the most affordable option jumps to the top of your list. If experience and capabilities carry the most weight, consider the providers who have case studies that suggest they have more experience in the channels you prefer.
5. Make the Right Decision for Your Business
Your final decision is completely up to you. And in some cases, you may not be ready to outsource. That is also ok. Ultimately, it’s about making the best decision for your institution’s needs.
Give yourself time to find the right match in an omni-channel provider. This isn’t a decision to be taken lightly, and the more discussion, the better. And of course, we’re happy to help!
With knowledge by your side, and a little bit of luck, you’ll make a decision that helps your omni-channel efforts – and your institution – thrive.