Conversational engagement is the best way to start real-time conversations with students and constituents.
Instead of forcing website visitors to navigate a sea of content, go through lead capture forms, and wait days for a response, conversational engagement uses targeted messaging and intelligent chatbots to engage with people when they’re on your college's website.
Making it easier for people to engage with your institution will help you:
Which means happier students, happier staff and a healthier campus community.
In the business world, conversational engagement is a personalized approach that businesses use to learn more about their consumers and create a better experience. In higher ed, it certainly is not appropriate to think of students as clients, yet conversational engagement is a new way to help people reach their goals and find the information they need to make decisions.
A change of perspective is needed, because marketing and customer service is a wonderful thing in higher education. It’s about sharing information and positioning your school in a way that is more inviting to visitors and students. Conversational engagement helps make your school more helpful and approachable.
Visitors to your website are important prospects and valued students. They arrive to find information, and when they don’t find what they’re looking for they have two options: find a way to search for answers or leave.
In most cases, a potential student will be prompted to fill out a form in order to receive information. Forms create friction. The fact is, most people do not fill them out, and being prompted to fill out a form and wait days for a response leads to a terrible experience - for both the student and your staff.
Automated chatbots are an efficient and highly effective way to give students, potential students, parents and alumni what they want. Chatbot conversations drive visitors to desired checkpoints while bringing them closer to a conversation with your staff. And, because basic questions are answered and sourced from your website, your staff can take advantage of the engagement. With a chatbot, website visitors receive immediate gratification, followed by the promise of more gratification.
Even the best college website is difficult to navigate. There’s simply too much information to organize it all in an easily digestible fashion. You can list academic program details, campus maps, financial aid information, and student life information, but you can’t hold someone’s hand to ensure they’ve found the information that brought them to your site.
Chatbots can do the job that website menus and search bars cannot.
To students, a chatbot lives in the corner of your website, prompting visitors to ask questions if they need help, guiding them through the vast amount of information your database holds. When a visitor needs help, they can raise their hand and the chatbot will connect them with a human, or automatically schedule a meeting.
To your staff, a chatbot is a valuable tool that saves time and does the work they’d rather not do (or don’t have time for).
Chatbots don’t replace your existing marketing channels, they streamline the process, creating a better outcome for students. They function as a result of playbooks that are based on your preferences and information.
A school implementing a chatbot will design playbooks for various website pages. A potential student visiting your website will see a chatbot prompt offering to answer questions about majors. Your school can have a chatbot playbook built specifically to guide students through to their desired page. Wherever there is a need to streamline communications, you can accomplish the task with a playbook.
A chatbot is like a flowchart that steers a conversation. Website visitors who could be students, parents or curious window shoppers receive a question prompt, and then the conversation can go anywhere. Your predetermined suggestions guide the way. Based on the page being visited, you can create playbooks to solve a myriad of problems or engage interested prospects.
Because chatbots were designed to help humans and not replace them, there’s only so much they can do. There comes a point in any automated conversation where a website visitor will want to speak to a human. Sometimes, that point is even the very beginning of the conversation.
When a visitor asks for a human, you have two options:
Your staff can program your bot to choose which queries will prompt which calendars. These parameters can be based on department, territory, or other settings.
Chatbots use AI to recognize users and continuously learn from conversations to optimize performance. The more a bot chats, the better answers they can offer - leading to better outcomes for students.
Collecting data through chatbot conversations is easy and unobtrusive. Either by bot or human, you can simply prompt a visitor to enter their email address. That makes it easier to continue conversations.
Data entered into your chatbot is shared with your school’s CRM in real time. Your chatbot can help build a knowledge base of potential students and validate your existing data.
A lead form can collect a name, phone number and email address, but what does it really tell you about a student or potential student? Chatbot conversations can easily show you:
Conversion rates can be anything from scheduled calls or meetings with staff to successfully answered questions. Anything that represents a positive outcome for students can be identified as a conversion rate.
Once your team collects enough data from conversations, that information can be used to customize academic programs or adjust school processes.
In the age of instant gratification, short attention spans and unlimited information, it’s crucial to be front and center for your audience. If you’re not adapting to the way students communicate, you’re failing them.
While automated chatbots have existed in higher education for some time, the technology has advanced and the capabilities have grown. Conversational marketing can be an essential tool in removing roadblocks for students as they navigate the college process.
Want to learn more about Harmony, higher ed’s intelligent chatbot solution?
Check out our features here or talk with Otto, Mongoose's friendly chatbot, he's hanging out in the bottom, right corner 🤖➡️ .