Today, higher education faces challenges unlike any before. Fewer high school graduates, increased job prospects and a weaker international student recruitment pipeline has resulted in declining enrollment at most institutions. The decline in tuition revenue is further compounded by a decrease in state and federal funding towards higher education. Furthermore, the rise of the non-traditional students and online learning has changed how higher education needs to engage and recruit its students. And while the model changes, the expectations students place on institutions continue to climb.
Serving today’s students requires a new approach
Research from Salesforce’s Connected Student Report shows that 61% of students, ages 18-22, are not full-time. In addition, another 20% are adult learners who are already part of the workforce. Student responses show that 43% live independently and commute to campus each day. All of this results in a very decentralized model, meaning you can’t reach students by placing notices on the billboard in the student union any longer.
To reach students and solve obstacles littering the university landscape requires higher education teams to coordinate communications not only within departments but with students as well. These communications can be navigated simply in a customer relationship management (CRM) solution like Salesforce.
Reaching students through tailored communications
Supporting the modern student body and building meaningful relationships today means stepping away from the traditional mass messaging model and utilizing targeted communications.
Salesforce’s research found that 72% of student respondents said they were already receiving personalized email and 73% said they preferred this communication method. In addition, 24% reported receiving personalized mobile communications (33% preferred this communication) and 20% reported receiving personalized text messages (36% preferred this communication method).
Coordinating your outreach efforts through your CRM allows departments to not only utilize these communication methods in an effective way but to record student preferences to ensure communication paths match the wishes of the recipient. This will lead to better response rates and ultimately a more positive opinion of your efforts.
Supporting students’ sense of community
Creating a sense of community and supporting the student experience remains key to retaining students and avoiding the expense of replacing them. Advisors play a vital role in these efforts, and the Salesforce Student Report found that 67% of students who utilized one-on-one advising sessions at their school credited those sessions with helping them succeed.
Salesforce Student 360 can be used to support these vital interactions in a number of ways that go beyond assisting in the scheduling of advisor appointments. In fact, the data collected about students in Salesforce can be used to proactively recognize students in jeopardy of failing or leaving school. You can use Salesforce to ensure advisors are notified if a student’s attendance lags or there is a dramatic drop in the student’s overall performance.
Student 360 supports the student experience by streamlining communications and ensuring a student does not need to repeat the same information to multiple advisors. For example, an advisor can use Salesforce to record a meeting with a student and share this information with other relevant university staffers, such as a financial aid advisor. This prevents the student from having to set up a second meeting to relay the same information. And because 81% of surveyed students reported they didn’t think they should have to relay the same information to multiple sources, utilizing Salesforce to overcome this challenge is more important than ever before.
Benefits that extend beyond present enrollment
While supporting students from enrollment to graduation remains your university’s top priority, the relationships built during this time can greatly aid student retention and future alumni donations.
Current students provide your university four to five years of data that can be used to enhance your chances of turning the student into a donor and advocate by creating a better student experience and ultimately supporting them in their goal to graduate.
You can also use your CRM system to help your current students connect with alumni. This is an objective that research shows many universities today fail to execute on. In fact, only 30% of survey respondents reported being able to connect with alumni through their university. Forging these connections supports your students both present and past.
Finally, don’t forget about the vital future role your work with current students can have. Nurturing and graduating today’s students can also support your future marketing efforts, as children of alumni are more apt to attend school in a location that is familiar to their family. This could help ensure you’re able to welcome the next generation to your university.
Putting Salesforce Student 360 to work
We’ve only scratched the surface of what Salesforce and Student 360 can do to support your university and its students. If you’d like to learn more about Student 360 and to see what solutions it can provide, contact Redpath’s higher education team today.