Tracking Outcomes

Over the last month we've been working hard on tracking and measuring outcomes for students and listings. We're pleased to announce a new collection of tools that proactively seek feedback from students and providers about their outcomes from using StudyStays.

Student outcomes

Because students don't directly book accommodation through StudyStays (at least not yet), it's been hard to tell what kind of outcomes they've had using the website. To know whether a student had found accommodation, was still looking for a place, or had given up was not information that was readily available. So we decided to improve this situation.

One approach to collecting this information up until now has been to send out a follow-up email some time after the student has registered asking for feedback. Another approach is to have a survey form on the website to solicit feedback that way. And some universities were using a combination of these techniques.

The problem with sending a follow-up email a set duration after registration is that we don't really know when to send it. Send it too soon and the student may still be looking for accommodation, and send it too late and they might have lost interest.

The problem with posting a link to a feedback form on the website is that many students might not see it.

Both approaches suffer from the problem that the feedback forms weren't really integrated into the website, and so their experience didn't adapt depending on their answers. They just fill out the form and that's it.

The new approach is to wait until the student has stopped using the website for a while (they've "disengaged") and then send them a very quick email survey which can be filled out without even needing to log in.

If students have found accommodation or have given up, we won't ask them again. If they haven't found a place yet, we'll wait a while until they haven't actively used the website for a couple of weeks (yes there's a setting for that), and then prompt them again.This will continue until they either find a place, give up, or unsubscribe from these emails. There's an unsubscribe link on each follow-up email to make it easy to opt-out.

And for students that tell us they've given up, if they do log in again later, we'll treat them as having re-engaged in their search for accommodation and begin following up with them when it looks like they have disengaged again.

This allows us to track things like:

  • Approximately how long it takes students to find accommodation
  • What kind of accommodation they choose (shared, rental or commercial student accommodation)
  • Where they end up (address, suburb and postcode)
  • Price, move in date and length of stay
  • If they found accommodation through your StudyStays site, which is the listing that best matches

As an administrator, you can see details about student outcomes directly on a student's record (when they have responded). You can also view a history of all student outcome responses by clicking Student outcomes on the right hand side of the "Students" tab in Admin.

The Student Outcomes page in admin lets you filter outcomes, and export the raw data as a spreadsheet if you need to do further analysis, send emails to certain segments etc.

You can edit the email template for the follow-up email that gets sent to student by going to Admin > Settings > Email templates and looking under "Students" for "Outcome follow-up".

You can adjust when the follow-up is sent (or disable it altogether) under Admin > Settings > Students: "Email students to ask about their accommodation outcomes".

Listing outcomes

For quite some time we've been asking accommodation providers if they've found a tenant as a result of their listing. But up until now we only asked when the provider actively closed their listing in advance.

Now, we'll include a link to the listing outcome survey in every email that gets sent when a listing ends.

We'll also display a prominent message on providers' dashboards prompting to them respond (if they haven't already).
This should result in much more information collected about listing outcomes.

The survey for providers is even shorter, just one question: "Did you find a tenant through our website?"

You can find information about the listing outcome when viewing the listing though admin, and in aggregate by running the "Listing Outcomes" report from the Reports tab.

Summary

These improvements are an important step in collecting metrics about how effectively your Off-Campus website is serving students. We've opened up more possibilities for analysing and reporting, as well as more opportunities to gather information about how your website is performing. There's even the potential to include custom feedback questions on these forms. We'd love to hear from you if you have ideas about how to extend this even further.

Better formatting for emails

Email templates for StudyStays now support more formatting options, like bold, italic, links, lists and buttons.

These templates now use the same editor used for content pages, which you may already be familiar with.

There's a new option to use an email signature, which can (optionally) be applied to all outgoing emails. This saves you having to edit all your templates when your signature changes, just update it once and it will be applied automatically.

Emails will now contain an additional footer in fine print, explaining clearly where the email originated and why.


What do I need to do?

Nothing! All your emails have been converted for you, and any customisations you have already made will be retained. We may have replaced some default links with action buttons in places (as in the screenshot above).

You might like to check your templates (Admin > Settings > Email templates) to add some formatting flair (if you fancy).

And as always, if you run into any problems please get in touch at support@studystays.com.au.


One last thing

Here's a tip: when you're editing email templates, pressing Enter or Return will add a new paragraph with a blank line in between. If you don't want that extra blank line, you can hold Shift-Enter to end the line and keep typing on the next line.

Supporting Documents for Accommodation Providers

We've added a new feature to allow accommodation providers to upload supporting documents, such as ID and rooming house registration papers.

This feature is similar to Supporting Documents for Students. But instead of requiring documents to be uploaded during registration, providers can optionally add their supporting documents at any time. This lets you request documents for certain accommodation (like Rooming/Boarding Houses) if you choose, possibly in response to a new listing approval.

You can enable supporting documents for providers from Admin > Settings > Providers:

When you have enabled Provider Documents, providers will see a new option to upload their documents from their dashboard (and there's also a link in the user menu at top-right).

You can customise the name of the documents and the "form hint" to make it clear which providers need to upload documents, and what sort of documents you require.

Provider documents can be seen in admin by clicking on the provider's record, so you can refer to their documents during listing approval if you need to.

You might also like to update "form hints" for the listing categories that identify the type of providers that need to upload documents, to let them know what your requirements are. If you're not familiar with category hints, they can be modified while editing a category (Admin > Settings > Categories, under Additional Categories). When editing a category, there is a link to "Edit form hint" on the right hand side.

Work Placement Accommodation

StudyStays now lets you offer work placement accommodation as a service to students.

This feature could be especially useful for clinical placements, or in other cases where students need to find accommodation in remote regions. For these students, the standard option to search for accommodation near a campus might not be particularly helpful.

The Work Placement Accommodation feature gives your StudyStays website a new tab, where students can search by any town or city in Australia.

Using this feature is optional and available free to all universities on the "Big" plan. To enable the "Work Placements" tab on your website, you simply need to go to Admin > Settings > Work placement accommodation and tick the box. You can also customise a short amount of content (including links to useful resources) to be displayed above the location search box on the "Work Placements" tab. If you have lots of content related to placements you might like to break this out into separate pages (under Admin > Content > Pages) and just provide a few links from the Work Placements tab so as not to bury the search box too far down the page.

If you'd like to help students find placement accommodation, of course it will be necessary to promote the idea to accommodation providers in the areas placements might be made. We will leave it to you to decide the best ways to get the word out!

We hope you find this feature useful. And if you do make use of it, we'd be interested in hearing your ideas about how it could be improved or extended to offer even better service to your students.

More room details for shared listings

Shared listings now provide space for advertisers to specify details about individual rooms for rent.

Previously, an advertiser could only list the room types available. Now, each room can be listed with different rent, bond, availability date, furnishings and bathroom.

This will allow us to give students more targeted search options when they are looking for a share house. It will also allow us to do student better matching for a new "Find a Flatmate" add-on which is currently under construction.

Rental (whole property) listings will not be affected by this change.

All existing shared listings have been automatically updated to support the new functionality. We have attempted to set furnishings based on your existing categories, but where this was not possible rooms will show unfurnished as the default. All rooms have been set to "Shared bathroom" as the default. Advertisers can manually make changes to their listings if they want to show furnishings or private bathrooms. All new shared listings will require advertisers to enter these details up front.

There are a couple of configuration changes you might like to make through admin.

Firstly, if you have room types (Admin > Settings > Room Types) that include a bathroom type, these can be removed. For example, "Single with Ensuite" could be removed, which will give you the option to replace it with just "Single".

Secondly, categories that contain information about furnishings for rooms, the entire category could be removed.

If you have any questions, please contact support@studystays.com.