Let’s Stand and Clap for the Nudge!

Carnegie Higher Ed Jun 12, 2017 Carnegie Higher Ed Persona The Visionary Frontrunner

“Are my marketing efforts working?” It’s the million-dollar question that everyone is asking or expected to be able to answer. Possibly one of the toughest parts to answer is what impact all these different strategies are having on a campaign.

Consider this: 12 years ago my parents moved into their house in a development in Plymouth, Massachusetts. That’s an enormous life event, right? What was the initial spark that ultimately ended with them making such a significant move and purchase? It was a banner ad that I, their son, saw on Boston.com. Do they remember that’s why they’re there? No. Does the housing development have any idea that’s why they’re there? No. But that initial branding and reach to a relevant audience, in this case an influencer, is what started the entire process.

Translate that to something like enrollment and how we measure and give credit to all the different elements of a recruitment plan and strategy. Even with all the advances in attribution modeling, analytics, and measurements, there will always be an element of the unknown when it comes to all the nudges along the way. And to some extent, there will always need to be an acknowledgement and acceptance of that fact.

For example, Carnegie has the CollegeXpress Lead Generation service. The nature and primary value of the service is right there in its description: lead generation. But the model for it involves access and reach to over three million college-bound students every year. So while the performance is typically measured by the tangible leads it delivers (which surpass five million a year for the colleges and universities we serve), what’s often more compelling are the nudges we can see from the data we run for schools beyond the specific lead delivery.

On average, CollegeXpress is reaching (and nudging) 75% of a school’s freshman class through e-mail, print, and online reach. That’s an enormous impact that can often be overlooked, particularly with student behavior today. If a student first learns about a school through something like CollegeXpress, most likely their next behavior is to visit the school’s site directly, not necessarily inquire through that service. And that’s okay. It’s great, actually. We should celebrate that nudge!

Recently our partners at Google rolled out a stronger emphasis on this exact theme. Highlighting the need to look way beyond “last-click attribution,” they announced “Google Attribution,” a way to examine the role that different marketing strategies play in customer actions. Looking at the entire equation, including everything from video ads, banner ads, e-mails, and other materials that work together to drive conversions, this will help make sure it’s not simply the final social media ad that gets all the credit.

The technology and tools continue to evolve and improve every day, so these nudges will get more and more of the credit they deserve. But in the meantime, I say we stand and clap for those nudges! After all, if it weren’t for them, my parents might be living in my guest room.

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