In what was a tumultuous year for admission offices across the country, how colleges and universities measured up to their enrollment goals varied significantly.
We here at Carnegie Communications have discussed these outcomes with leaders in admission and enrollment marketing during our hundreds of college visits, and a few approaches, strategies, and mindsets have stood out.
Here’s what’s been working for some of those schools who had a very “good year.”
1. Fill your funnel
As one Director of Admission at a school that was over-enrolled for this fall said, “We made a strategic decision to fill the top of our funnel and to do so with the right types of prospective students that would be a good fit for the college”. So a large portion of the plans, resources, and partnerships were established to accomplish just that. Their mindset—to fill the top of the funnel with the ideal prospective students and let their talented staff and expertise take care of the rest—worked wonders.
Shameless Carnegie Plug: Our PC&U lead gen service is an invaluable resource for driving tons of qualified inquiries that match the recruitment goals and profiles for virtually any college or university.
2. Boots on the ground
A VP of Enrollment at a selective institution shared, “We made a concerted effort to go back to the basics in a sense, and one major part of that was we tripled the number of high school visits we do now versus years past”. As a result, their applications have seen significant increases for the last several years. And because most of that is based on personal attention and activity versus implementing new technology to boost applications, those apps have been high quality with very healthy yield percentages.
Shameless Carnegie Plug: CollegeXpress can help you instantly reach out to prospective student audiences in the areas where you are visiting or doing college fairs.
3. Continuous Search
Today’s Student Search can no longer be looked at as one singular campaign. If your approach to this is a template letter with a half-dozen follow-up e-mails, then you might as well be renting VHS movies from Blockbuster. Based on both student behavior and available data and technology, your Search efforts should be personalized and integrated, and you should be continually reaching and communicating with your audiences from initial awareness all the way through to when they step onto campus as an enrolled student.
Shameless Carnegie Plug: At Carnegie we Search differently.™ And our Student Search services can include IP Targeting, PURLs, variable data printing, Retargeting, dashboard measurement, and so much more.
4. Keep your foot on the gas
When was the last time your reached a certain enrollment number one year—and the following year’s goal was less? I’m guessing never. In times of ever-increasing expectations, a consistent theme we hear with colleges experiencing success is that they are constantly seeking out ways to accomplish and do more rather than just doing the same things they’ve done before. Even when it’s been a successful year, they make a point to retool their strategy and do things differently, because the enrollment marketing landscape is constantly changing.
Shameless Carnegie Plug: New ways of reaching, engaging, and converting prospective students are continually developing—particularly with our digital marketing services. To keep a close eye on some of the new strategies you can be considering, take a look at the many free webinars on our site.
5. Bottom half of the funnel
As the competitive atmosphere continues to change and May 1 (and similar) results get less and less predictable, many colleges are focusing even more attention on the bottom half of their funnel and asking themselves what they can do differently. Social media, campus events, and personal contact—plus plenty of creative, unique, and fun ideas—all play important roles. The other schools on your prospective students’ short list are doing things differently at these stages, and if you’re not, it will continue to have a negative impact.
Shameless Carnegie Plug: Have you heard of IP Targeting and Retargeting? As students visit your admission pages, complete their applications, and get accepted, IP and Retargeting offer ways to stay in front of them virtually anywhere they go online and with messaging specific to where they are at in your funnel.
6. Efficient data use
As one head of admission said, “We stopped paying tons of money for people to tell us what we already know or have the ability to learn easily with our own data.” In today’s digital world, you already have access to tons of data that can answer so many questions surrounding where to focus your recruitment attention. The money saved here can also help you apply more resources in other recruitment strategy areas.
Shameless Carnegie Plug: Digital look-alike modeling can take any list you have (Search buy, prospect, enrolled students, etc.) and identify additional households and areas similar to those students.
As we enter these fall months, keeping an eye on what others have done to be successful is always important. To discuss any of the topics, solutions, or perspectives here in more detail, please contact us anytime.