Increase applicant conversion rates through text message nudges

Expert Insight

Increase applicant conversion rates through text message nudges

In the past two years alone, community colleges have experienced a 7% decline in enrollments, from 6.3 million students in fall 2013 to 5.9 million students in fall 2015. Faced with persistent threats to tuition revenue, college executives are seeking scalable strategies to recruit more students.

Where should community colleges start with student recruitment? Even before they seek out new prospects, they can help current prospects enroll. EAB’s research on Eliminating Enrollment Pain Points reveals that only 42% of community college applicants nationwide are converting into enrollments. Countless others get lost in the admissions process—a complex series of hurdles that include lengthy applications, puzzling financial aid forms, intimidating placement tests, and more.

How one college system prompts applicants to complete enrollment

To boost applicant conversion rates, colleges need a systematic way to communicate with applicants about steps in the enrollment process. Today’s colleges can choose from a wealth of tech-enabled communication options, from emails to automated phone calls. Yet, if a college wants to reach students where they already are, one option stands out—text messaging. A study from the Pew Research Center reveals that 63% of young adults send text messages daily. For comparison, only 39% have phone conversations and just 6% send emails.

87% of Signal Vine recipients said texts prompted them to complete previously unknown enrollment tasks. (n=799)

In 2014, the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission launched an initiative to reach college-bound students through text messages. They use the messaging platform Signal Vine to communicate with students starting in their senior year of high school. Each message they send prompts these students to complete an individual step in the college enrollment process, such as applying for financial aid or scheduling an advising appointment.

In addition to reminding students of upcoming deadlines, text messages can make students aware of enrollment steps that were never on their radar. Fully 87% of Signal Vine text recipients report that these messages prompted them to complete previously unknown enrollment tasks.

West Virginia’s Text Message Enrollment Nudges

Learn more about helping students enroll

Our Eliminating Enrollment Pain Points study explores five strategies to increase applicant conversion rates by streamlining the enrollment process. Download the study.