Winter Forecast: Higher Yield Rates with a Strong Chance of Better Results

Carnegie Higher Ed Nov 26, 2012 Carnegie Higher Ed Persona The Visionary Frontrunner

Three ways to impact yield this season

As I traveled around the country meeting with colleges this past year, I had many conversations concerning the new trends, challenges, and issues schools are experiencing when it comes to enrollment.

One area I heard about more and more often was schools looking for new and different ways to have an impact during students’ decision-making processes after they’d been accepted. Several schools felt they were seeing a volatile final list of schools towards the latter stages of a student’s decision. Factors like economics and geography, as well as colleges marketing themselves in different ways and students controlling more of the search process, all seem to be playing a part.

So, how can you make an impact on all of the above this winter?

1. Retargeting: If you’re not already Retargeting to accomplish a variety of goals across the entire enrollment cycle, you should be. In the corporate world of marketing, frequency of message is the rocket fuel that leads to conversions. And in an online world, there’s no better way to accomplish that than Retargeting. Plus, you can use Retargeting to focus on your accepted students. For example, traffic, from parents or students, to any of your pages related to activity that occurs after a student has been accepted (financial aid packages, freshman orientation, etc.) can be uniquely managed with creative, messaging, and calls to action geared towards higher levels of yield. The data alone that comes from Retargeting and helps make future online marketing efforts exponentially more intelligent warrants its own blog topic (coming soon!).

2. Mobile/Texting/YouTube Campaign: Studies show that while students do not want to be communicated with via text at the beginning of the enrollment cycle, once they are further along, and particularly after gaining admission to a school, they are much more open to it. This is a great opportunity to interact with them and drive higher conversion rates. As an example, one school we work with did a text campaign to their accepted students, congratulating them. Within the text was a link to a YouTube video featuring people across the entire campus (students, faculty, administrators) all yelling “congratulations!” and “welcome!” Click-through and conversion rates were incredibly high for this initiative. And once students were watching the congratulations video, they were surrounded by the other great videos on the school’s YouTube channel to get them even more excited.

3. Social Media: Yes, I know your school probably has a Facebook page and Twitter account geared towards admission and/or admitted students. (If you don’t, that’s a whole other conversation we need to have.) But do you have a specific plan in place to take advantage of the huge impact these accounts can have with yield? I follow just about all of the schools I work with on Twitter. The level of activity—and resulting excitement—I see with some of these schools is fantastic. Students tweeting and then being retweeted by admission offices about finishing applications, being accepted, visiting campus, etc. all spread the word and positive feelings and experiences for those schools . . . for free. And retweeting a student’s message, along with potential additional engagement through social media, helps that student feel like a part of your community. The same holds true for Facebook. The way you can communicate with a prospective student through Facebook has changed dramatically over the past year. And your ability to have custom destinations, conversations, “like” campaigns, and more goes a long way towards having a student choose you over another school.

While there will always be many significant factors that impact a student’s decision to attend your school, these are a few tactics you can employ that make a difference. As the landscape becomes more competitive and as more schools enter your overlap arena, it’s even more critical to do things that will make you stand out to students and/or parents that will also engage them in new and unique ways.

Bundle up. We’re in for a long winter with lots of success!

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