Case Study

NWACC Increases Student Engagement and Response Rates with TextUs

NorthWest Arkansas Community College (NWACC) knew the value of texting for getting ahold of their students. They saw that, more and more, response rates to emails and phone calls were decreasing while text was getting more engagement.

Their problem was that their existing texting platform just wasn’t cutting it. They were struggling to keep up with student responses, gain meaningful insight from data, and set up an efficient communication workflow.

“Our old texting platform was not user-friendly. It was so frustrating because we couldn’t keep up with information or responses, and the data offerings were nonexistent,” said Clay Wyllia, Associate Director of Communication & Engagement at the college.

So, they started using TextUs.

The difference was night and day. “Within the first couple of days of using TextUs, we were already blown away,” said Wyllia.

With TextUs, NWACC increased student engagement in the admissions and orientation process, managed hundreds of conversations more efficiently, and gained insight into data-backed communication best practices.

Here’s how.

Increased student engagement in the admissions and orientation processes

As anyone in college admissions and orientation can tell you, it can be difficult to get students to respond to emails and phone calls. Students have a lot on their plates, their inboxes are full, and they often just don’t do phone calls.

But, students will respond to text messages.

NWACC reached out to their students the way they prefer to communicate. They sent text messages to share information and also to follow up on their email outreach, nudging the students to interact with all parts of the admissions and orientation process.

As a result, students were more responsive both to texts and to the emails they were nudged to pay attention to over text. This led to speedier enrollment and completion of orientations online.

“We send them a series of text messages that guide them through the entire process, from enrollment to orientation. It’s not a huge amount of information — just a series of nudges in the right direction — but it’s been extremely effective in boosting student engagement,” said Wyllia.

Here are some examples of the kinds of text messages that have been successful for NWACC:

  • Hey {First}, just a reminder to complete your orientation by next week. To access it, log into your student portal and click “Orientation.”
  • {First}, new info on a class cancelation is in your email inbox. Be sure to check it out or get in touch with your advisor about next steps.
  • Hi {First}, I’m {Advisor}, your advisor. I just sent along an email with next steps to get you started for the new year! Let me know if you have any questions.

Saved time and made managing conversations easier

The college was also better equipped to respond rapidly because team members could jump in and easily pick up a conversation where someone else left off.

“With TextUs, it was so organized and so much easier to have multiple users responding to students, almost in real time.”

By giving each department their own textable ten-digit number, NWACC was also able to manage conversations among different departments.

“Because TextUs is so user-friendly, multiple other departments have already jumped on board and adopted the platform, too. It’s been invaluable for keeping engaged with current students, answering their questions, and staying on the ball.”



Gained insight into best practices through data and analytics

NWACC was able to analyze their data in TextUs and gain a deeper understanding into which messages worked for engaging students — and which ones fell flat.

“We were able to see campaign-specific information on how many students responded, how engaged individuals were, and even segment further by specific groups, such as incoming freshmen. It gave us an in-depth breakdown of all the information we were looking for.”

Because of the transparency into all messages across multiple users and departments, Wyllia was also able to notice patterns that helped him refine and improve the information sent to students. They created templates to answer the most common questions, saving the team more time.

“We had a lot of texts coming in and asking the same questions. Using the TextUs template feature, we were able to create some automatic responses to those common questions. It’s saved us a lot of time.”

NWACC gained insight into deliverability with TextUs data, so they had a clear picture of which students they weren’t getting through to and why.

“We’re able to not only see how many texts weren’t able to be delivered, but also why — if it was a landline, if it was flagged, if the number was disconnected. This allowed us to reach out and fix the problem with a better understanding of what was whether it’s a landline or even if something was flagged as spam, it would show us. The data has been imperative for us in terms of understanding where we should be putting our efforts, what is useful, and what best serves our students,” said Wyllia.


About NorthWest Arkansas Community College (NWACC)

NorthWest Arkansas Community College (NWACC) provides quality and affordable higher education to empower lives and strengthen communities within northwest Arkansas and the surrounding areas. We offer a full range of certificates and associate degrees that can lead to careers in business, computer science, art, communications, culinary, nursing, paramedic, engineering, criminal justice and more.

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