Engaging students through personalized outreach | Recent Work

The Client and the Problem

Bottom Line helps low-income and first-generation students get to and through college. Across four regional sites and in at least as many states, the organization supports over 8,000 students in their pursuit of higher education. Doing personalized advising work at such scale inevitably results in some students who are less engaged than others. Bottom Line sought to re-engage students whose program participation had waned (but who had not yet graduated from college). Considering the volume of outreach necessary, the organization also determined that sustainability was also a vital consideration for any resulting communication’s campaign.

The Project: Re-Engage Students

In collaboration with Bottom Line’s national program team, we’ve worked together on a strategic student outreach project. As a result, hundreds of students re-connected with the organization to seek advising on financial aid, access career-related resources, and get assistance with complicated processes like transferring or re-enrolling in college. Our project focused on re-engaging students through personalized text message campaigns.

Our Approach

We worked to re-engage students from Chicago, New York, and Massachusetts, utilizing Signal Vine’s texting platform. This service supports individualized, multi-media SMS campaigns, and allows mass-messages to seamlessly transition into one-on-one conversations. In this case, that translated to inactive students connecting with Bottom Line Advisors and getting crucial, timely advice.

In crafting the campaigns, we developed a conversational tone to convey Bottom Line’s expertise equipping students for success in college. This messaging approach aligned with the immediacy, intimacy, and ubiquity of the delivery medium — students’ cell phones. We also utilized Signal Vine’s functional support of emoji, GIFs, and hyperlinks to make messages interactive, engaging, and fun. Scroll to the bottom of this post for a selection of visual assets and meme-style content developed to accompany campaign texts.

Project Results and Analysis

From “Re-engagement Strategies for Students” | SignalVine

Some recent research has called into doubt the effectiveness of “nudging” campaigns like these on a statewide or national scale. However, our results affirmed that this type of outreach can uniquely connect with students and drive meaningful student engagement. We also found that this is especially when personal relationships and trust have already been established. Practical, engaging messages with immediate action items proved particularly effective (i.e. around the October 1st opening of the FAFSA each year).

Over 25% of inactive students responded to our outreach, exceeding email/SMS marketing industry standards.

These messages were coming from Bottom Line, a trusted, known organization that was familiar to campaign recipients. As a result, these reminders carried additional weight, and many students responded with questions about their individual circumstances. With this messaging platform, students received prompt, personalized advising within the original text-thread. This reinforced the conversational nature of the campaign and encouraged repeat engagement. Over 25% of inactive students responded to our outreach, exceeding email/SMS marketing industry standards.

A selection of the campaign’s visual assets and meme-style content.

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