You’ve invested resources to make student financial services at your school easy, mobile, and personalized. Now you need to get students to pay attention to the #awesome changes on the horizon. No easy feat, right? We’re here to help.
Your students’ success is the goal. Over-communication is the plan. A consistent message, paired with a multi-channel approach, can help.
Before you download anything from our Student Rollout Kit, read on. Our VP of Financial Aid and Community Initiatives, Amy Glynn, offers advice on how to plan out the stages of your communication rollout. Once you’ve got your plan ready, these downloadable email, social media, digital, and print assets await.
Define Your Strategy
“Rolling out a massive change in process to students can be challenging,” says Glynn. Putting information on your financial aid website about the upcoming change is great, but if students don’t visit that page it’s not going to help. Emails to students often go unread, and students are busier than ever on their phones—checking social media, surfing websites, doing 9,000 things at once. “You need to get in front of them on as many channels as possible, as early as possible,” she explains. “Think of your rollout in stages. How early do you want to talk about the upcoming process change? And what do students need to know—and do—during the various stages?”
Drive Student Adoption: Three Stages
Stage 1: General Awareness that Change Is Coming
This is really pre-communication; the idea of simply generating awareness that change is coming. If we take marketing’s “rule of seven” into consideration, students need to see a message at least seven times before they’ll take action (how many touchpoints drive action will never be an exact science). Plan to communicate early-on that change is coming. And, if possible, provide a date for when the new process will take effect. In these early communications, explain the reason behind why you are making a change and showcase how you are meeting students’ needs, improving service, and making things streamlined.
Stage 2: Tactical Change Management
During this stage, plan for the various needs of your different student populations. You’ll have returning students who are very used to your previous process of faxing documents and visiting your office in-person. Plan out what they’ll need to be successful in transitioning to the new process. For incoming students who are new to your process, you’ll have less education to do around change management—but don’t overlook what this group will need to be successful. Consider tracking success rates for adoption between existing and new students to help you continually refine your outreach. If you are implementing process changes mid-aid-year, you’ll have students who need to close out existing items before the change occurs.
It’s a great idea to brainstorm through this stage with your Financial Aid Office—and involve other stakeholders who may be impacted.
Stage 3: Ongoing Communication
Plan to continue communications throughout the year, showcasing how you offer self-service and transparent, personalized support. Hosting digital communications on your student portal, and providing flyers and resources about your process at ground events throughout the year will help you build on general awareness. That will hopefully mean that next year, students will jump right into the new process immediately.
Meet Your Student Rollout Kit
Now that you’ve got your stages mapped out, you’ll want to communicate a consistent message across multiple channels. To make it easy for you, we’ve developed assets that promote the fact that you are tuned-in to what your students want: Mobile services they can access anytime.
Depending on how you schedule and send emails, we’ve got you covered. In the Student Rollout Kit, you’ll find copy suggestions for three emails: Introduction general, introduction mid-year onboarding, and an account setup email. Email header image options that you can download and provide to your email team are also available. A really easy win is to add a few lines to the auto-signature of anyone in your FinAid office, linking to where students can find more information on the new process. (We’ve included suggestions for that, too!)
TIP: When it comes to driving open rates, pay attention to how your Subject Line, Email Pre Header, and From Line work together. These three elements—along with the day/time you send—have the greatest impact on your email success.
Considering 88% of students are on Facebook, and 75% of students use social media during their college search, communicating a process change (especially one as awesome as mobile, self-service FinAid 24/7) should utilize social channels. In the Student Rollout Kit, you’ll find Facebook and Twitter status suggestions, channel-specific imagery, and suggestions for how often to communicate on each.
TIP: Using hashtags relevant to your institution can help your posts gain traction. Think of things like your school name, mascot, school team, student body nickname. Your social media team can also provide suggestions.
Students pass through many institutional landing pages as they move throughout your student portal. Many of these landing pages offer right rail or banner space to promote messages of importance to student progress. In the Student Rollout Kit you’ll find four different campaign ideas: “Gone Mobile,” “You’re In Charge,” “We Listened,” and “No, Really!” Each campaign provides various image sizes as well—making it easy to forward on to your web team for placement or to add directly to your financial aid microsite.
TIP: Consider using all four of the campaigns at various times. For example, you could use the “Gone Mobile” campaign for three months, and then swap out the campaign with “We Listened.” The URL that a click on the campaign artwork drives to should remain consistent, but changing up the campaign can draw renewed attention from students.
Paperless is great, but sometimes students WANT paper—like when they stop by your Financial Literacy Month table and have questions about your process. Consider putting up flyers and posters in high-traffic areas around campus: the FA office, Admissions office, and student hall, for example. In the Student Rollout Kit, you’ll find a general option that highlights the value all students receive from easy, mobile, personalized student financial services. A second option is provided for our customers that have enabled the text-alert features on the platform.
TIP: These assets can also be used as digital flyers and hosted on your Financial Aid Office website, or added as attachments to email communications.
We’re always working to refine this support kit and welcome your ideas. Have suggestions for additional assets that would help you drive adoption across your student population? Please let your Customer Success Manager know and we’ll see what we can do!