Exclusive Preview of the 2017 Student & Parent E-Expectations Survey in 7 Parts
The results of the April 2017 Ruffalo Noel-Levitz survey on the E-expectations of high school seniors, juniors and sophomores (n=4,274) will be officially released on July 27.
I got access to the results of this survey about 6 weeks ago – before anybody else – courtesy of Stephanie Geyer from RNL. Stephanie will present these findings first at the end of the month at the NCSRMR Conference in Denver, Colorado and later this year at several other conferences (eduWeb, HighEdWeb, etc.)
This annual survey launched in 2005 has become a staple in audience research for higher ed marketers and communicators. It’s the gold standard for digital expectations and habits of the new class of college freshmen (high school seniors), the new crop of prospective students (high school juniors & sophomores this year!). Considering the increasing role they play in the college decision process, RNL has also surveyed parents of seniors, juniors and sophomores (n=3,530) this year as well.
The data is super fresh (April 2017) and reliable due to the size of the samples for students and parents!
Since there are so many great insights in this research, I’ve decided to break them down into 7 different posts:
- Email & Text for Students (this post)
- Email & Text for Parents (to be published on July 14)
- Search Engine Optimization & Advertising for Students (to be published on July 18)
- Search Engine Optimization & Advertising for Parents (to be published on July 20)
- Higher Ed Websites for Students & Parents (to be published on July 24)
- Social Media for Students(to be published on July 25)
- Social Media for Parents (to be published on July 26)
Here’s the key to understand the labels for the series used in the charts:
- 2017: High school seniors, class of 17 – or their parents
- 2018: High school juniors, class of 18 – or their parents
- 2019: High school sophomores, class of 19 – or their parents
Exclusive Preview of the 2017 Student & Parent E-Expectations Survey Part 1: Email & Text for Students
So, let’s start with the findings about email and text!
Email still alive, kicking and influencing prospective college students
Emails from schools made it in the top 3 influential resources when it comes to the college decision process for students. After websites and financial aid calculators (for the obvious reason), email takes the 3rd place this year.
This makes it a valuable higher ed marketing channel, because 84% of seniors check their email at least a few times a week as you can see.
And, we can all thank smartphones for it. 🙂
Not only do prospective students check their email often – contrary to popular belief, 96% of seniors and juniors are also willing to share their email address when they request information from colleges via a form.
This makes email the preferred channel to interact or share more information about college admissions when students initiate the first contact. But, it does NOT mean that they welcome all messages sent to them by colleges that bought their addresses.
Texting: the untapped higher ed communication channel
If 96% of students are willing to share their email address when they fill out a request for more information form, 75% of seniors and 70% of juniors will give you their mobile phone number. About half of the students sharing it will welcome a text as an answer. It’s fewer than email, but it shows that texting might be a good channel to communicate with prospective students further in the funnel.
And, actually, when asked specifically the question whether or not schools of interest could text them, 66% of students agreed. About a third will welcome messages via social apps as well. The difference can probably be explained by the fact that text might be a more formal communication channel than social apps.
While a majority of students is happy to hear via text from schools of interest (“of interest” is key here), only 32% of seniors had at the end of the recruiting cycle in April. There’s definitely an untapped opportunity in this gap.
Yet, this opportunity is NOT an invitation to spam prospective students via text as shown in the chart below.
If your texts aren’t relevant, students will unsubscribe.
Both word clouds below show you the top reasons for unsubscribing from text for seniors and juniors.
If your school wants to use text to communicate with prospects, it’s important to meet their expectations and align your messages with the nature of the channel itself. Your text messages should be time-sensitive, to the point and personalized when possible.
Text is a wonderful channel for deadline reminders and details about student applications, but also good news (yep, you could actually text acceptance notices to give them the good news even faster).
Next: Insights on Email & Text for Parents
Stay tuned (or subscribe to my newsletter) for my next post in this series with insights from the 2017 RNL Parent E-Expectations Survey about email & text.