Marketing and admissions have become sophisticated fields where Enrollment Professionals blend creativity with complex technical processes to attract quality prospects that convert into enrollments.
In a previous post, I discussed strategies for converting prospects into enrollments, but what can you do with those prospects you were not able to successfully enroll? These unsuccessful enrollments can provide valuable insight for you and your team as you recalibrate your enrollment marketing strategy on a regular basis.
You have the opportunity to evaluate your enrollment marketing after every recruitment cycle in order to learn which method not only had a high lead-to-enrollment conversion rate but also proved to be most cost effective in attracting your institution’s desired students.
Here are some of the ways that Enrollment Professionals evaluate their recruitment processes after each recruitment cycle.
Find your cost-per-enrollment
It’s safe to say that no marketing strategy is guaranteed to convert 100% of leads to enrollments, but by carefully designing your strategy, you can optimize your marketing costs.
Calculating your cost-per-enrollment for all your marketing channels is simple. Follow the formula below:
Determining your cost-per-enrollment allows you to compare different marketing channels, as well as multiple vendors and advertisers within each channel, to get a value of what each enrollment costs your institution.
By comparing the lead source with the enrollment, you can increase investment in channels that are converting well while decreasing investment in channels that aren’t converting as well.
Look at factors affecting conversion rates
There are several factors that can significantly affect your enrollment marketing success. And though they may be more difficult to control, they should be acknowledged and understood to ensure you are setting yourself up for success.
What are some of the factors in your institution that may hinder or promote a high lead to enrollment rate?
Here are three examples I’ve heard from other Enrollment Professionals:
1.Type and Uniqueness of Programs Offered: Simply put, when “popular” programs are offered by lots colleges and universities, a dilution of enrollments is inevitable. I’ve seen that institutions offering unique, specific and niche programs have less competition for prospective students, which will lead to a higher conversion rate. This underscores the imperative that colleges and universities use data to review their program offerings while considering the deployment of new and specialized programs aimed to attract students looking for specializations.
2. Institutional Factors: These special factors are unique to each college or university, and you, as the Enrollment Professional, will have limited control over them. Yet these factors can be what differentiates your institution to a prospective student. Some of these factors include:
Brand Recognition. Brand awareness creates an implicit trust in the institution for prospective students. Institutions with brand recognition may find that they have higher conversion rates, yet it can’t be negated that brand awareness is often achieved at a very high cost over time.
Tuition and Fees. Check in with your competitors from time to time to evaluate how your tuition and fees stack up. Does your institution offer a comparable program to another institution yet at a higher financial cost? If so, you should be prepared to discuss with students the factors that make your program cost more (or less) than that of the competitors. It is equally important that students have access to financial assistance through your institution. How do your financial aid programs compare to those of other institutions?
Instructors. How involved are instructors in your enrollment marketing? Are they available to talk to prospective students who may be keen to study with them? Consider what role, if any, your institution’s instructors play in your enrollment marketing. And then find ways to increase their profile in your marketing strategies where possible.
Accreditation. Many prospective students don’t understand the meaning of accreditation, or know the difference between a regionally and nationally accredited institution. But for some students, it makes all the difference. Enrollment Professionals should be prepared to discuss the importance of accreditation, as well as the level of accreditation your institution has to prospective students. You may find that your level of accreditation helps you hone in on your niche market of prospects. For instance, for students seeking education upgrades and stand-alone coursework, level of accreditation may not be as important as it could be to students seeking a professional degree program from a nationally accredited institution.
Calendar. Flexibility is key! An institution that has rolling starts will likely see a higher conversion rate because of the valuable flexibility this offers to prospective enrollments. The start dates, as well as the turnaround time for registration to approvals for coursework, can help you capitalize on the enthusiasm of a student who has finally decided to take the plunge into higher education.
3. Your Competitors’ Competitive Strategy: Some institutions have more resources to allocate to their enrollment marketing strategy than others, which inherently leads to competition between institutions. Enrollment Professionals should take the time to understand the financial investments and costs-per-enrollment of competing institutions. If you believe that you’re in high competition with other schools, but don’t have the resources to absorb a high costs-per-enrollment, it is important that you do your market research, and adjust your investments and energies to focus on the inquiries that are best for your institution.
Don’t open doors, only to have them crawl out the window
You can have a high lead to conversion rate, but you only create true value for your institution when you retain and matriculate the students you enroll. It is equally important to invest time and resources into accompanying the student through their whole student lifecycle as it is to have them enroll in the first place.
Enrollment Professionals need to have an effective plan to ensure that lines of communication remain open, and that a meaningful relationship is built between the student and the institution. They need to identify any “windows of vulnerability” that could lead a student to exit the institution at any point in their student lifecycle.
Current and historical retention data can help you identify any points of weakness in the student lifecycle where you need to implement more supportive programming. Technology and social media have made it all the easier for institutions to build relationships with their students. Retention tools can be customized for the institution and its student body using platforms such as Facebook and other social networking tools.
As you will read in the Best Practices in Enrollment Marketing Management, it’s imperative that colleges and universities have a well thought-out and carefully executed enrollment marketing management strategy.