Starting a new enrollment strategy can be risky. Unless you’re clairvoyant, you can only guess just how well your efforts to increase enrollment will pay off, or whether a new program or initiative will attract as many students as anticipated. That said, measuring your results can help you discover and replicate your successes, while learning more about the students you serve. In other words, if you’re uncertain how best to maximize your enrollment marketing efforts and dollars, tracking the right metrics is a key strategy for separating what works from what doesn’t.
So how can you figure out which metrics are worth measuring? For starters, check out our five-step plan, below. You’re also invited to register for our free January 18th webinar on the marketing metrics matter the most.
1. Determine Your Desired Outcome
Does your new marketing strategy indicate a target outcome? If your answer is no, you’re far from alone. It’s all too common for institutions of higher education to mention a vague objective, like “driving enrollment” or “increasing brand awareness.” However, setting a hard, numerical goal makes it easier to visualize and measure your success.
For instance, maybe your goal is to enroll six students out of 100 leads by the beginning of the Fall semester. You can always adjust those numbers later, when you have more information about what’s realistic. But to start the conversation about what metrics you’ll need to track, it’s important to state in clear terms what you hope to achieve.
2. Define Success Criteria
Achieving a desired outcome, like enrolling X number of students over your target time frame, certainly sounds like a win for your institution. But what if you went over your budget to get there, or what if a high percentage of the students you enrolled ended up leaving after the first semester? There’s more to a successful strategy than nailing the goal you set in step one. For a well-rounded picture of your results, you’ll also have to consider other components for success, ranging from cost per lead to student outcome over the long term.
Examples of success criteria include:
- Return on investment for each lead, per each lead source
- Student persistence, i.e. how long the average student remains enrolled
- Tuition dollars collected over the life-cycle of the lead
- Tuition dollars collected over a given timeline, e.g. four years
3. Decide Which Metrics to Measure
Once you have determined a desired outcome and refined your vision of success, you’re ready to start choosing metrics that will help you keep track of how close you are to fulfilling your goals and criteria. For instance, say you want to grow enrollment by a certain number of students this semester, while also maximizing lead source efficiency. To be sure your efforts are measuring up, you may need to look at several metrics, like:
- Enrollment based on lead source
- Enrollment based on program and platform
- Cost per lead, based on lead source
- Cost per enrolled student, based on lead source
- And other metrics that may be relevant
While these metrics pertain to a very specific goal (enrolling X number of students while reducing your cost per lead), they’re also flexible—meaning they indicate uses across other departments or objectives. And the most useful metrics indicate an action or next step. If a metric can’t support a decision or help you choose your next direction, it may only serve to clutter your dashboard. Which brings us to…
4. Use a Tracking Dashboard
The truth is, many colleges and universities struggle with data collection and visualization. If you’re using a simple spreadsheet to track your key performance indicators, you may not be making the most of the data at your fingertips. So find dashboard software that allows you to easily track, share, and work with data throughout the student enrollment lifecycle.
Ideally, your tracking dashboard will be user-friendly, easy on the eyes, and accessible across multiple departments. And most importantly, it will help you track the analytics that matter to you. For example, the GlassPanel dashboard can track relevant KPIs, such as average cost per valid lead, application rate, and cost per enrollment, displaying this info in handy graphs and visuals.
5. Adjust, According to Your Findings
The metrics you track are only as useful as your ability to fine-tune, based on what you discover. For instance, say that your cost per enrolled student happens to be lower when these students come to you through Lead Source A. You might plan to invest more of your marketing dollars in that channel going forward. But, you might also want to add additional metrics to your dashboard, like student retention based on lead source, in order to see if Lead Source A continues to perform over the long haul.
Remember that the metrics you track must be reassessed from time to time, to make sure they are still useful. As your goals evolve, so will the indicators that populate your dashboard.
Learn More About Picking the Right Suite of Metrics
Finding the right suite of metrics can be a complex and ongoing job. Yet, tracking and measuring your results is key to maximizing your enrollment strategy, marketing dollars, and human resources. EducationDynamics helps institutions by working backwards to discover what resources you need to achieve your enrollment goals. Then, we set the right metrics to measure your success.
Want more expert advice on tracking the metrics that matter? Sign up for our free webinar, presented on January 18th at 3 p.m. EST!