Targeted marketing has become the norm across multiple industries. Today’s consumer expects a level of personalization in marketing efforts that would have been impossible just a decade ago and that applies even to the hallowed halls of higher education. While reputation is enough to generate thousands of applications, colleges have the opportunity to enroll more students than every using online platforms. This capacity expansion has also lead to the need for more marketing that reaches the right students, at the right time. Data and analytics surrounding existing marketing can provide unique insights into when, who and how to market online programs for better enrollment.
Diving into Existing Data
The challenge for higher ed lies in generating more in-bound interest that ultimately results in a new student. Marketers almost universally agree (72 percent) that relevance is the single most important aspect of SEO, and with Google driving 93 percent of web traffic, that’s a big part of marketing success. So, for colleges and universities to reach a mass audience, they need to produce content that answers questions, helps with decision making and remains relevant in a changing educational landscape. And, do all of this with an eye toward great SEO practices and finding new avenues that may also generate revenue.
Tracking the Right Analytics
For colleges, not all data is created equal. You don’t need to track click-through rates, but you do need to track some fairly major KPIs for ever campaign. Here are a few examples of data points that can lead to better marketing and more applications.
- Speed of Inquiry Response: How long does it take a college to respond to an inquiry? Did you know that 20 percent of the world’s top universities never respond to student inquiries? Maybe they don’t need an enrollment boost, but failure to answer questions or follow up with prospects means a student that will enroll somewhere else. Studies show that fast response times often generate more sales, and that’s what enrollment is–selling education.
- Inquiry to Application Rate: How many inquiries actually turn into applications? This analytic is a solid measurement of your follow up activities. Are you successfully nurturing prospective students until they submit an application?
- Application to Enrollment Rate: How many applications result in enrollment? And how many applications are approved? If you approve 100 percent of online applicants, these numbers will be the same, but for many higher ed institutions, you’ll need to look at only the approved applicants to enrollment number. Though, it may be beneficial to start looking at your nurturing process if your application denial rate is high.
- Retention Rate: Are students completing their program with our school? This is an important question for an industry where the average graduation rate is 59 percent.
- Inquiries by Zip Code: Where do our applicants live? With marketing localization such a big part of narrowing down targets and securing enrollment, determining location can be a big part of college marketing efforts, even for online programs. Many students want the option of attending in person classes. Determining the geography of potential applicants can significantly improve final enrollment numbers by narrowing your targets.
Data Drives Business Efforts in All Industries
These are just a few ways analytics can help you drive enrollment. Good data leads to more targeted campaigns, which ultimately, leads to lower student acquisition costs and more enrollment. The lifetime value of a learner is often high, which makes many organizations overlook the spiraling cost of acquisition, but with the right data-driven approach to marketing, institutions can engage with more prospects, manage long term relationships and get better value from each new student.