Increasing Student Enrollment: A Three Step Guide to Filling Your Classrooms
According to a recent study, student recruitment is the driving force behind 89% of educational institutions’ web strategy. Whether you work at a local college or an internationally recognized university, attracting and registering high-quality applicants is one of the most defining pieces to your school’s success. While the vast majority of institutions say that recruitment is the driving force of their digital presence, nearly all of these schools are missing the essential tools and methods to make the most of their web assets.
Meet Jake, he recently applied to one of your programs online. While his application will tell you a lot about who he is, there is plenty of important information that you should also be able to derive. How did Jake originally find your program? How is Jake like the rest of your students? How long did it take Jake before he decided to apply?
Answering the questions above requires one of the following two options: a personal survey/discussion with Jake or a proper web strategy. At Snaptech, we firmly believe that refining your digital campaigns is much easier than tracking down and speaking to every student. To make this a reality, we will have to consider the following key components:
- Understanding and Attributing Recruitment Results
- Understanding Who and Where Your Student is Before they Enrol
- Understanding the Path to Classroom
1: Understanding and Attributing Recruitment Results
Take a minute to think about all of your recruitment techniques. You are likely engaging in and with recruiters, agents, print, radio, TV and digital channels. While all of these are perfectly valid methods of acquiring bright minds, no one effort alone will fill your classroom.
Now think about your recruitment efforts again, which ones always seem to be most successful? Likely your recruiters and agents keep detailed logs of the students they interact with. But, just because an agent speaks to a student and then they enroll doesn’t mean that that student applied because of the recruiter. It may have been a combination of your high-school presentation, brochure, and engaging Facebook page that drew them in.
Keep in mind that while some of your marketing efforts will be “active” in their pursuit of claiming recruitment results, some of your channels will be “passive”. Marketing assets such as your website, social media channels, print advertising and referrals are only given credit if you set up the necessary tracking to do so.
2: Understanding Who and Where Your Student is Before they Enrol
Let’s think again about Jake, your applicant from earlier. He is seventeen and about to graduate high school, looking for a career in Accounting. He comes from a large family, in a rural community. To learn more about accounting, he has followed many firms on Facebook and visited their respective websites. He also enjoys watching the news and documentaries related business scandals.
If you were choosing to create a marketing campaign to target other potential students like Jake, what factors above would you use to qualify the audience? Outside of digital, you are quite limited in the targeting options. With recruiting events at high schools you could reach some potential candidates. With TV you could reach some business affecienatos. With digital, however, you can target recent or pending high school graduates, with an interest in accounting related pages who have proven to want to attend university. Given the precise targeting abilities of digital, you should consider how and when online campaigns can be used to supplement the pitfalls in your other marketing platforms.
What makes Jake different than his friend Beth who did not apply for your programs? While recruiters and spray-and-pray traditional advertising may not connect these dots, digital can give you an idea about the differences between who applied and who did not. Link together demographic, psychographic and behavioral components to better understand your student.
3: Understanding the Path to Classroom
Let’s say you are developing two new programs, a Bachelors and Masters of psychology. When marketing these programs, there will be more differences than just the fact that one audience already has a degree. Likely, students looking to take their Bachelors will research universities for a few months before applying. Students entering a Masters, however, will likely spend their whole Bachelors researching potential upper-level programs. Now let’s say you going to offer a weekend crash course in psychology. Would you registrants take nearly as long to decide to apply?
Understanding your path to classroom is critical to understanding when, where and to whom you should be communicating certain messages. What do your competitors look like at different phases of the decision? If a student decides to attend a specific program, is that the right time to introduce your school, or is it already too late? Digital insights can provide you with deeper clarity as to the number of interactions and time to decide your students need.
Bringing it All Together
Understanding how to measure and improve your recruitment efforts will arm you with the tools you need to fill your classroom. By designing measurable campaigns, you can understand the role and contribution of marketing to recruitment. Through understanding your audience, you can help them better understand you. Lastly, with attribution and time modeling, you can see how long the decision process is and what drove the student to apply.