Artificial intelligence–powered tools such as ChatGPT from OpenAI are no longer something we can ignore. As higher ed marketers, we must move past being defensive about our creativity and writing skills and embrace the many benefits and enhancements this technology can bring to our work.
A recent article on “Call to Action” outlined promises and pitfalls of ChatGPT, citing the generation of first drafts for press releases and optimizing copy for search engines and article titles (the latter which I did for this post!) as great use cases and big time savers for any busy communicator.
In my career, I’ve interviewed thousands of admissions, enrollment and marketing leaders on the latest tech shifts of the time, from social media to responsive web design to video and now AI. No matter the change in technology, their main question has always remained constant: How will this extend the effectiveness of my staff though improved processes?
Here are two real examples of how AI will help you and your enrollment marketing team achieve your goals faster and improve the overall effectiveness of your team to capture and keep student interest.
Using Chat Bots to Automate Manual Tasks and Improve the Student Experience
It’s no secret we spend a lot of time on repetitive manual tasks, including scheduling emails, sending reminders and tracking social media metrics.
It’s close to impossible to reach students the way they already experience with their favorite brands by doing everything manually. AI-powered tools can automate tasks so we exceed student expectations while freeing up time for more strategic work.
AI-powered chat bots are getting better each day, especially when built on OpenAI. They can handle routine inquiries from prospective students, such as questions about application deadlines, program requirements and campus life.
Unlike a human, a chat bot is available 24-7 to answer prospective students’ questions. This reduces the need for admissions teams and enrollment marketers to be available around the clock, saving them time and allowing them to focus on other tasks during business hours. In the event a more complex response is required, chat bots can be programmed to escalate conversations to the correct staff member.
One of the biggest challenges in enrollment marketing is ensuring that students are aware of important deadlines, events and other information related to their academic journey. If the chat bot has collected necessary information from the user, it can set reminders. Connect your chat bot to other tools through APIs or services like Zapier to automate sending these reminders to students.
Communicating Creative and Personalized Messages at the Right Time
The biggest challenge for enrollment marketers is getting the right message to the right audience at the right time.
AI can help by analyzing data from multiple sources—such as website analytics, social media metrics and email engagement rates—to surface patterns and trends in student behavior.
Using this information, AI-powered tools can:
- Create targeted campaigns that deliver personalized messages to specific segments of your student population
- Identify which campaigns are resonating with students and which ones need improvement, completely removing guesswork from the equation
- Ensure campaigns are delivered at the right cadence and frequency and in the modality that each individual student prefers
Sure, you could do this yourself, too, but you’d be wasting valuable time and energy. And there’s always the risk of human error and opinions muddying the strategic waters.
Prompt-generation tools such as ChatGPT can also provide creative inspiration on the front end of our email campaigns. With the right prompts, you can quickly create content briefs, generate catchy subject lines or SMS texts, or analyze and adjust the tone of your emails.
You’ll waste less time trying to think of attention-grabbing copy and spend more time on marketing strategy and goal setting, developing better multichannel communication flows and other high-value activities.
Students expect personalized experiences from every brand and channel they interact with. AI-powered tools can help you scale up your institution’s personalized communication no matter how many staff members are on your team. This kind of dynamic personalization across all communication also ensures cohesion no matter what touch point a student interacts with.
- AI can create student segments and analyze data to create individualized email campaigns that address the student by name, reference their academic interests and offer relevant resources or events. No more manually duplicating and editing hundreds of emails because, again, who has the time?
- An AI-powered chat bot can provide personalized recommendations based on the student’s previous interactions with the institution, such as suggesting courses or programs that align with their academic goals. Later down the road, alumni communication can pull in relevant information such as graduation year, career opportunities and campus news that speak to that specific individual.
This will ensure each person you message feels heard and valued by your institution from the day they first inquire until long after they graduate.
Evolving Enrollment Marketing With AI
By leveraging AI, enrollment marketing pros can free up time for more strategic work, deliver targeted campaigns that resonate with students and make data-driven decisions about their communication strategy that will capture the attention of today’s students and yield positive results.
As AI continues to evolve, many anticipate a future where innovative tools aid every single department on a college campus. The reality is, that future and these tools are here. It’s those who harness their power who will survive the seismic shifts in higher ed and set the standard that is quickly approaching.