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Top Insights on Email and Text for Higher Ed from the 2017 Parent E-Expectations Survey

Exclusive Preview of the 2017 Student & Parent E-Expectations Survey Part 2: Email & Text for Parents

This is the 2nd part of the 7-installment series on the April 2017 RNL E-Expectations survey results. This research focuses on the digital expectations of high school seniors, juniors and sophomores (n=4,274) and their parents (n=3,530) and will be officially released on July 27. If you read the first part, just skip to the next section without reading the rest of this short intro below.

As I explained in my first post focusing on Email & Text, Stephanie Geyer from RNL shared with me the complete survey data set she’ll present for the first time at the 2017 National Conference on Student Recruitment, Marketing, and Retention in Denver, Colorado.

This annual survey launched in 2005 has become the gold standard of research on the digital expectations and habits of college-bound students. With parents playing an increasing role in the college search and decision process, having fresh data (April 2017) about their digital expectations is also invaluable.

Here’s the key to understand the legends 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

Email: an important channel to communicate with parents

While emails from schools are the 3rd most influential resource for high school seniors, they come in 4th place for parents after website, financial calculator results and print materials.

With close to 80% of parents checking their email every day, it still is a very important channel to communicate with them about the college admission process.

Frequency at which parents check their email

When they initiate the first contact with a school by requesting information on an online form, 86% of parents of seniors will share their own email address and 52% their child’s. If you’re not already offering parents-oriented fields on your request for information online form, you’re either missing out or are making it harder than it should to have clean data in your CRM.

Type of information parents are willing to share when filling out an online form on a college website

Once they have requested information by filling out a form on your website, 75% of parents of seniors expect an answer via email from admissions, that is a personalized answer. However, only 36% of these parents are fine getting an automated email including links & next steps. If your admissions office can’t answer individually every single request, it’s probably time to invest in smart email automation including a lot of personalized data. It wouldn’t hurt either to ask your content specialist to review your email templates and make sure they feel as personnal as possible. Smart rewriting can make an automated message feel much more personalized.

The personal touch – even if it’s partially automated – will go a long way with this audience.

Best ways to get get back to a parent after the submission of a request for more information on a college website

Text & Parents: it’s complicated

While the majority of parents don’t think it’s one of the best ways for college to get back to them when they expressed interest via a form, close to 70% of parents of seniors are willing to allow schools of interest to communicate with them via text. So, between parents and text, it’s a bit complicated and seems to go along the lines of “not my favorite thing, but if you really want to do it, I’ll be fine with it.” Nice parents 🙂

Parents who are willing to receive text messages sent by colleges

I’m not sure if this contradiction is what keeps schools from using text with parents. Only 15% have received texts. It’s also likely that they got these texts because they used their phone number while requesting info while posing as their student.

Parents who received text messages sent by colleges

With so few (only 14% for seniors’) parents ending up unsubscribing from texts sent by schools, the results of a smart texting campaign targeted at parents could lead to surprising results.

Parents who have unsubscribed from text messages sent by colleges

So, how do you hit your parents’ target with text?

Just text them about what they want to hear about: deadline reminders (reminding your kid of everything becomes second nature when you have a child, so they’ll appreciate the help ;-), details about their students’ application and even acceptance notifcations.

Reasons to receive text messages from colleges - parents

Yep, 54% of parents of seniors are actually ok with receiving the first word about their student’s application via text.
I want the good news and I want it now 😉

Next: Insights on SEO & Ads for Students

Stay tuned (or subscribe to my newsletter) for my next post in this series with insights from the 2017 Student E-Expectations Survey about search engine optimization and online ads.

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