Decades of Data: The Key to Reaching Undergraduate Prospects Online

Carnegie Higher Ed May 20, 2014 Carnegie Higher Ed Persona The Visionary Frontrunner

It’s a very common theme repeated in so many of the meetings I have on campuses each week . . . increase enrollment, increase your student profile, increase minority students, and decrease the discount rate. Now do all of that and keep your sanity. Oh, and did I mention you have a smaller budget?

So many schools tell me they are starting to see growth in new and different areas and they would love to spend more time recruiting there, but their recruiters are already maxed out and they don’t have the money to send another person to this new area. This is where online marketing can do the heavy lifting, building the brand name and recognition needed to attract new students in a new market. But how do you decide where to market online? How do you know that your message is reaching those students you want? How do you know if your online ads are working? The answer to those questions is data. Every school has it, and more and more data is flowing in for you literally by the second.

Here at Carnegie, we sit in a unique position and are able to draw from decades’ worth of student data through our PC&U Platform, which translates into our turnkey online undergraduate marketing service—Student Select Online Network (SSON).

Some of the nuts and bolts of SSON:

PC&U data: Imagine being able to deliver online advertising precisely in the areas you knew had the right academic credentials specific to your school. For 30 years PC&U has leveraged student data from College Board, NRCCUA, and ACT to provide schools with the opportunity to reach virtually every college-bound student in the United States. With a major component of the audience segmentation of PC&U being academic achievement level, that PC&U history is used to pinpoint geographies based on enormous sets of test score and GPA data.

And academic achievement data is great, but what about affordability elements, lifestyle factors, or other focus areas?

PRIZM data: SSON marries that 30 years’ worth of PC&U data with PRIZM, a set of geo-demographic cluster profiles widely used for customer segmentation marketing (outside of higher education). The clusters were developed by analyzing various data to categorize each U.S household into one of 66 segments based on their location, lifestyles, and purchase behaviors. This combination of PC&U data and the PRIZM system indexes every zip code in the country based on certain student criteria. Whether it’s academic achievement, area of interest, religion, or race, SSON can help schools identify those zip codes that have had the highest propensity for producing the students they want.

For example, a school unable to send another recruiter to the Dallas/Fort Worth area can instead identify the top 50 DFW zip codes where students like the ones they want have typically come from and market to that audience with specific messaging. And while there is no magical formula that will deliver qualified students to schools with a giant red bow on top and a low discount rate (especially in the day of the growing stealth applicant pool), through the use of Online Display advertising, schools are able to reach a much larger audience than ever before without sacrificing strategy.

So whether it’s through a service like SSON or using the proprietary data that is so easily and readily available to schools today, there’s an opportunity to rethink the need for a high-priced agency report full of geodeomographic information. SSON is the new (30-year-old) recruiter on the block, and the legwork is already done for a fraction of the cost.

You can follow me on Twitter @JLawnchair or on Google Plus as Jennifer Lonchar.

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