Increase Engagement by Sending Nudges From Someone Your Students Know and Trust

Civitas Learning Civitas Learning Space Nudging Outreach Results

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A great way to measure the success of your nudge campaign is to review how students have engaged with the messages you’ve sent. Engagement metrics available via Illume, including open and click through rates, can provide insights into what is resonating with your students, and illuminate opportunities for improving the performance of your nudge. After reviewing your campaign metrics, you may ask yourself, “how can I get more students to engage with the messages I send them?” While there are many elements that contribute to campaign success, a critical component of your student response rate is who the nudge appears to come from. Modifying the “From” field to come from someone the student recognizes, rather than a generic account further personalizes your nudges and can contribute to improved results. In addition to the subject line, the sender makes up your nudge’s first impression every time a student checks their email inbox. Students use this information to make judgements about the trustworthiness and reputation of the message source and to determine if the message contains valuable content. When students receive a nudge from a name they know and recognize, they are more likely to open the message and can benefit from the information being provided.
Early Results
Using outreach features in Illume, our partners can now leverage the ability to send nudges on behalf of advisors and other influential people at their institution. This reduces the time and effort it takes to generate personalized nudge campaigns and simplifies planning of centralized nudge campaigns by your institution. One of our partner institutions recently designed two nudge campaigns to a total of 2,589 online learners — 832 of the students in the group had a high probability of persisting and 1,757 has a low probability of persisting. The messages included in each nudge in the campaigns was differentiated to reflect the difference in persistence prediction. Over the course of 45 days, three nudges were sent to students in each group. The first two nudges in each campaign were sent from a generic email… but the third nudge in each campaign were sent from the students’ assigned advisor.
The result? 
A 20 percentage point increase in open rates for both campaigns!
Specifically, students with high persistence probability were opening emails at an average rate of 34%. That rate went up to 64% when the email came from their advisor. Students with low persistence probability were opening emails at an average rate of 26%. That rate went up to 47% when the email came from their advisor.
CAMPAIGN #1: 832 ONLINE STUDENTS WITH HIGH PERSISTENCE PROBABILITY Sender Open Rate
Nudge 1 Subject: Get connected to get the most out of college Generic 36.18%
Nudge 2 Subject: Leverage your community for success Sent 26 days after nudge #1 Generic 34.13%
Nudge 3 Subject: Welcome back from spring break! Sent 21 days after nudge #2 Student’s Advisor 62.62%
CAMPAIGN #2: 1,757 ONLINE STUDENTS WITH HIGH PERSISTENCE PROBABILITY Sender Open Rate
Nudge 1 Subject: Get connected to get the most out of college Generic 25.55%
Nudge 2 Subject: Leverage your community for success Sent 26 days after nudge #1 Generic 25.84%
Nudge 3 Subject: Welcome back from spring break! Sent 21 days after nudge #2 Student’s Advisor 46.84%

Tips
As you prepare work on your next nudge campaign, consider these tips on choosing the right sender for your campaign:
  1. Personalize for the purpose Think about the context of your message, the student group you’re targeting, and your nudge’s call-to-action (CTA). Perhaps you’re running an initiative to encourage student registration and asking students to schedule an advising appointment. While an email from registrar@institution.edu may be obvious and an email from the dean may be helpful… a personalized email from your students’ academic advisors may have a bigger impact on open rate.
  2. Develop a response strategy A well-developed response strategy helps to ensure that students receive appropriate support after engaging with the nudge. Where should messages be routed? Who should be informed about the campaign? Remember to collaborate with your advisors to get their feedback regarding strategies and to keep them informed about the campaign process.
  3. Be ready to iterate The right sender can have a direct impact on the open rate of your nudge and influence your overall campaign success. If you’re noticing your nudges has low open rates, take a moment to review the sender and subject line of your campaign.

Carl Thorne-Thomsen

Carl oversees the Illume and Inspire applications. He leads the company’s product efforts into student nudging, providing the tools to effectively outreach to students using cutting-edge behavioral science theory. Before joining Civitas, Carl taught HS Algebra and Geometry with Teach for America, where he also coached tennis, led the math department and was 2013 Kimball HS teacher of the year.