It’s hard to argue with the fact that virtually every industry over the last decade has changed due to the increased prevalence of social media, smart phones, and overall connectivity between people.
College and university administrators might argue that their professional world has changed more rapidly in the last decade than most. What this means for bursars and student financial services leaders is that the tactics from a decade ago to communicate effectively with students are no longer enough to drive payment outcomes on today’s campuses.
A study by Meadow in 2023 showed that students are stressed out about paying for college in ways that might be surprising. It’s not just lack of ability to pay that keeps students up at night, it’s lack of clarity on their bill and an antiquated billing system that doesn’t meet them where they are.
We compiled a set of recommendations for student financial services leaders based on our experience helping 50+ partners improve their communication about billing. It surprises many partners to know that emojis, GIFs, and video are key to boosting student engagement with the billing process.
The rise of social media has meant a seismic shift in how students consume information. As you’re thinking about your communication strategy around bill payment you should ask yourself: how can we communicate with students in ways that they’re used to and will respond to? How can we get their attention?
Emojis can improve your email open rates. According to Experian, the open rate of emails with emojis in the subject line is 56% higher compared to the plain subject lines.
GIFs can help boost engagement. GIFs are not just for funny internet memes or for sharing on social media, they can actually build an emotional connection with students - whether humor, excitement, empathy or any other wide range of emotions. It’s a core tenet of communication that when your recipient feels connected to you, they’re more likely to engage (yes, even pay their bill!)
Video can reduce confusion. In our study of 500 post-secondary degree pursuing students, we learned that 58% of students who pay late report that their bill was confusing and 57% of all students say they think that their school’s communication is ineffective. Try creating a video walk through of your billing platform and include a link to it in your communications with students. Better yet? Embed it directly in communications.
Explore all recommendations in “What to Say When You Need Them to Pay”
Whether your institution has 20,000 or 1,500 students, one fundamental truth remains: improving the quality of communication and reaching students through their preferred channels at the right time will yield positive outcomes. When the journey of paying tuition becomes a seamless and less stressful experience for everyone involved, you position yourself as a true partner to students, drive better payment outcomes, and reduce the workload on your staff.
Take a look 👀 at the full set of recommendations here.
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