Increase Response Rates

Overview

This resource will explain simple actions you can take in order to drive up response rates and increase engagement. The following suggestions are meant to apply to all teams using the Cadence platform.


Tips for Increasing Response Rates


Identify Yourself and Be Personal

Your recipients want to know that they’re talking to a real person. The first time you text with any student, parent/guardian, alumni, or constituent, introduce yourself (including your full name) and start building a relationship via text message.

Utilize merge fields in Cadence to easily customize outreach and personalize your messages (e.g., use the <FIRST NAME> merge field to address the student directly). 


Ask Questions to Cultivate Conversation

Although some messages may call for a more transactional approach, one of the most effective ways to increase response rates is to simply ask a question. Re-phrasing a sentence makes a big impact on how a recipient analyzes a message (e.g., saying “ Thanks for visiting campus” is much less engaging than asking “How did you like your visit?”).

Cadence is built with two-way texting in mind and it will help you cultivate meaningful conversations--sometimes you have to be the one to break the ice.


Be Professional and Avoid Robotic Language

Texting can be an informal way to communicate, but that doesn't mean professionalism should be abandoned. Show your personality, but also remember that you are representing your institution's brand. Speak on your recipient's level, but avoid going out of your way to use abbreviations, emoji, or acronyms unless they are warranted.
Additionally, avoid robotic language that devalues the personalized experience you are building. Language such as "standard message rates apply" or "Reply 'STOP' to opt out" is not necessary and is more likely to cause recipients to react to your message with suspicion. 


Send at the Right Time and Be Ready to Respond

Your recipients will often reply to your outgoing message right away. As a medium, texting generally comes with an expectation of responsiveness. For that reason, it is important to be strategic about when you send outgoing messages. Before sending, make sure your message is going out at a time when you are prepared to respond in the immediate future.

In particular, when sending to multiple recipients in a segment, make sure you (or your team if sending from a group account) are going to be available to review and respond to the volume of replies you will receive.


Have a Goal and Focus

Only text recipients about information that has an end goal in mind. Avoid text messages that are not part of a larger goal or strategy, unless they are being sent to strengthen the relationship with the recipient. A focused communication strategy helps maximize the effectiveness of texting as a tool for student engagement and success. Before you send a text, ask yourself, "Does this help move me towards my larger goals with this recipient/conversation?". 


Avoid Carrier Trigger Words

There are some words that you'll want to avoid prompting students to reply to your text messages with . There are words that carriers have identified as trigger words that can result in students "Opting Out" or being flagged by the carrier.  "These words are "STOP", "CANCEL", "END", "QUIT", "UNSUBSCRIBE", "HELP" and "INFO". 

"STOP", "CANCEL", "END", "QUIT", "UNSUBSCRIBE" are carrier "Opt Out" words, meaning, students will be opted out of receiving messages automatically if they send any of these words (the word by itself) in a message. So to avoid an accidental opt out, avoid asking students to reply using one of these words. 

"HELP" and "INFO" are words that the carriers will intercept and prompt students with an auto reply letting them know how to opt out of messages. These two words are flagged and looked at by carriers as messages that are questionable. If a student replies with "HELP" or "INFO", you will not see the reply.

Examples:

What you should say-"Hello <FIRST NAME>, this is Ashley at MU. We saw you started your application but haven't finished. Do you have any questions about your application?"

Avoid messages like this- "Hello <FIRST NAME>, this is Ashley at MU. We saw you started your application but haven't finished. If you need help or have questions, reply HELP"

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