Three resolutions for enrollment marketing professionals in the New Year.
GUEST COLUMN | by Gil Rogers
Every year in January, it’s the same story: resolving to get in shape, give up sweets, be better about our work life balance — the list goes on and on. But what about resolutions that help us do our jobs better? Better yet, resolutions that we can keep that help us do our jobs better? With that in mind, here is a list of three top resolutions you might consider as you continue to work to serve students who are researching and deciding to enroll at your institution this year:
Technology has done the same thing to the college search that eBay did to shopping and Kayak did to travel.
Resolution 1: Focus on students with a demonstrated interest
The reality is that you are not getting any more time in your day, nor are you likely to get more money added to your admissions recruitment budget in 2014. So, with that in mind, doesn’t it make sense to focus your efforts to ensure you are working with students not only who would be interested in a school like yours, but who are interested specifically in your school instead?
In a recent article published by EDUCAUSE, the marketing and recruitment office at Castleton State College in Vermont found that by shifting their recruitment efforts to students who have proactively indicated an interest in Castleton online on sites like Zinch.com, US News and World Report, and Parchment, they have been able to save over 90% on the cost of recruitment of that pool of students while generating significantly more net tuition revenue in the process.
Resolution 2: Be where the students are
According to a recent study by the Pew Internet and American life Project, 95 percent of teens use the Internet. This is not groundbreaking news to most of us. However, consider this in the context of the college search. Recent research by Zinch indicates that nearly 80% of college-bound students find college review and scholarship search sites useful in their college search. With the knowledge that nearly your entire demographic is using a specific channel to research colleges and universities, it may make sense from a budget and time commitment standpoint to consider ensuring that your team is utilizing the most cost-effective channels that have proven results.
Justin Barlow, the Director of Admissions at the University of West Georgia, recently wrote a piece about their institution’s need to find qualified applicants on a limited budget while still finding ways to meet unique enrollment needs. In this article, he reaffirms that not only identifying students with an expressed interest, but also contacting them at the height of their interest is most important. Yes, we all know students use social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. But consider what they are doing and where they are doing these activities. No one argues the importance of a Facebook page for engaging admitted and enrolled students, but what about those third party sites like YoUniversityTV and CollegeProwler where students are actively looking you up and getting the inside scoop? Why would you invest all of your time and effort on the bottom of your funnel and not use that same type of focus at the top?
Resolution 3: Focus on Yield
With the cost savings of shifting your resources to focusing on students with a demonstrated interest at the top of your funnel, you can then invest further in the fun stuff: yield activities. Consider this: every dollar you save in your prospective student outreach is another dollar you can shift to your admitted student events, regional receptions, swag for enrolling students, or better yet your institution’s scholarship fund!
Think of the positive PR. In a day and age of articles questioning the value of a higher education and the rising costs of tuition, your institution could be listed as one that is giving back to students and investing more in merit aid. You can even list your institution’s different scholarships on scholarship directories like Zinch.com/scholarships; which as we have seen by research cited above, 80 percent of students feel are useful while performing their college search. Who knew that focusing on yield could also help you with your recruitment?
Reap the Benefits
Technology has changed a lot of things; from how we buy our house and car to what we do on our vacations — putting the power of information in the hands of the end users. Technology has done the same thing to the college search that eBay did to shopping and Kayak did to travel. Don’t be the holdout hotel refusing to be listed in the directory and losing countless tenants. Leverage the Internet to find, connect with, and engage your prospective students at the height of their interest and reap the benefits of time and cost savings.
Hopefully, by adopting these three resolutions in 2014, you’ll see huge advantages in your team’s use of their own time and your overall use of precious financial resources.
Happy New Year!
Gil Rogers is Director Marketing and Outreach for Chegg. He has also consulted at numerous regional and national institutions assisting them with developing their online outreach strategy and goals.
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