Bottom Line: Re-Engagement Strategies for Students
Bottom Line is a college access and success organization with offices in Boston, Chicago, New York City, and Worcester, MA. Program staff work with around 8,000 students who are first-generation college students and/or from low-income backgrounds. Bottom Line focuses on supporting students to achieve crucial milestones related to academic, financial, career, and personal success. By preparing students for a career after college, through network- and skill-building, Bottom Line helps students realize the economic mobility they need to break the cycle of poverty in their family.
The biggest challenge Bottom Line faced that led them to Signal Vine was trying to find efficient methods to manage student outreach. The organization was looking for a way to reach out to thousands of students to provide them with relevant information about college. Staff used traditional texting to conduct outreach, but due to some limiting functions with traditional texting, the organization was seeking a scalable, dynamic tool to personalize and target texts to students.
Another concern for Bottom Line was that advisors were repeating student messages. They would send the same message multiple times to the same students because of limits with their current texting platform and because they were not always using texting to deliver these messages.
Another challenge Bottom Line faced was reconnecting with students who were no longer engaged with staff. These students were largely comprised of juniors and seniors as well as students who were no longer enrolled in college. Staff wanted to find a way to use texting as one of their re-engagement strategies for students to keep them on track to postsecondary education.
With these needs for scalability, consistency, personalization, and planning in mind, Bottom Line chose to partner with Signal Vine.
For the implementation process, Bottom Line staff had four main objectives:
- Start using two-way communication with students.
- Send bulk messages that were unique and personalized for each recipient.
- Supplement in-person meetings and texting.
- Nudge students around key deadlines and milestones, job opportunities, and opportunities to re-engage with an advisor.
With these goals in mind, staff worked with the Implementation Team at Signal Vine to get started.
Staff welcomed feedback from one another and reported being pleasantly surprised at how easy the platform was to use. Also, Bottom Line staff took advantage of training opportunities Signal Vine provided. This helped them maximize their capabilities with the platform. As a result of these trainings, staff adopted best practices, such as sending images and GIFs to liven up conversations with students.
Then, staff worked a strategy into their message campaigns. They chose to message students with action items related to being enrolled in college. For example, staff nudged students via text to file the FAFSA, to study for finals, to pay their tuition bills, and to register for the next semester.
Staff also chose to implement motivational texts into their campaigns. They use the platform to wish students happy holidays, good luck with finals, and to motivate them to study hard throughout the semester.
Bottom Line reported several positive results from using the Signal Vine platform to engage students.
First, they noted a positive impact on student engagement. Students have responded well to the authentic tasks given to them versus the conversational outreach staff tried before. This impact is most prevalent in the Chicago and NYC offices of Bottom Line. These staff members report at least a 50% student response rate. Further, students usually respond within an hour from a message’s send time.
Second, staff noted that texting to re-engage students worked. Inactive students reengaged with the program in response to practical prompts. In fact, 25% of inactive students are now responding to Bottom Line staff thanks to text nudges. This proved that texting to re-engage students works.
Finally, Bottom Line staff report that Signal Vine has helped them increase communication efficiency, supplement their data collection processes, and advance program innovation by testing remote service delivery.
Staff at Bottom Line note several best practices they’ve discovered through their texting journey.
- Make texts practical and engaging. Segment and target students who need the information you plan to text about. Having a single call to action for each text message will help students avoid confusion and know exactly what you’re asking them to do.
- Keep your student data updated in your system. This will help you best utilize Signal Vine’s segmenting tools so you can make messages deeply personal to students. For example, if you want to send a “good job” text to students with a 3.0 GPA or higher, it would be a bit embarrassing to send this text to students with a low GPA. This is why keeping your data up-to-date is crucial in personalizing messages.
- Make texts immediate. Send reminders about deadlines close to the deadlines to get students to take immediate action.
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