You are tasked with so many competing priorities. When do you take the time to step back and confirm your plans are aligned with your goals? When do you take the time to develop new plans to achieve new goals?
Sure, you carve out something you are calling a "retreat" to address these ideas with your colleagues, but if you are like most, you go into those retreats feeling a bit less prepared than you'd like to be. And do you have the data to back up the decisions you need to make?
Important note: You're going to want to share this one with your team. Great tips follow.
Begin with Assessment
We understand. And Intead is often called in to wrangle a bunch of data to the ground and identify the insights that are right there waiting for you, if you had time to analyze and reflect.
Each institution we work with is data challenged. You are not alone. However, there is a lot that your institution collects, though it is probably kept in different silos.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have that all pulled together, reviewed by knowledgeable experts and have the hard-hitting report that filters out the noise, focuses on the opportunities, and helps you make smart decisions…backed by data?
When we engage with our clients, whether a top 50 institution, a mid-tier university, a community college or boarding high school, we start with the data available and we gather more. When the institution is working with a robust Marketing Automation System and CRM (Slate and Salesforce, for example), there is rich data to be mined. Maybe they are using Hootsuite and Mailchimp, or SproutSocial. They all have their Google Analytics coding in place.
These are the kinds of tools that provide insight if you take the time to review it all and cross analyze. What is your lead to application ratio? Application to enrollment ratio?
Let's get clear on how many inquiries you need to meet your enrollment target, based on historical data. And backing up to the top of the marketing funnel, what kind of recruitment marketing produces the best leads, the ones that more frequently convert? Is it from your travel? Your agents? your digital marketing? We'll bet it is not your list purchases (go ahead and check, we'll wait ; -)
When we have filtered out the noise and gathered the insights, we can develop a strong and reliable recruitment strategy, messaging strategy and lead scoring strategy. You and your team can focus your time and budget on the tasks that truly move the needle.
All of this takes some time to do. And having all this strategic thinking and planning done does not mean you can sit back and relax. We've noticed that the world keeps changing (ha!), and student mobility and social media trends require us to watch carefully, be nimble and adjust our marketing as the various influencers change (visa and work policies, foreign exchange rates, other geo-political factors).
Data Worth Looking At
The graphic above identifies the major categories of recruitment data worth looking at. Your website traffic and inquiry data are hopefully coming from your marketing automation tool(s), Google Analytics and your CRM. Your application and enrollment data are likely coming from your SIS.
Let's offer up a few tips as you think about doing this yourself. Know that we are here to help if you are time constrained.
- Does your website appear on international search engines?
- Is your site accessible on mobile devices?
- What does your website look like via other countries’ Internet Service Provider (ISP)? (think China)
- How many clicks does it take to get to international student-specific information?
- Are you monitoring global traffic flow (Google Analytics)?
- Is your web content engaging, simple and easy to absorb for non-native English speakers?
- Critical: Does your site give prospective students an indisputable reason to give you their contact information?
- Is all your email content relevant and engaging to your target markets? (Consider your personas)
- Do all links lead to platforms that are accessible to the audience?
- Does your email provide helpful information that is specific to your audience?
- Does any of your email content contain too much detail or too many links?
- Does your email give a compelling reason for the recipient to click through for more information? (You’re tracking those clicks, right?)
- Critical: Does the subject line engage your reader?
Social Media Audit
- Do you understand the usage of social media platforms in your target markets? (how, when, where, and most importantly why they are used).
- Are you present on the right platforms? Where would your personas be active?
- Is your content relevant and engaging? Are you capturing attention? (think video, think local language)
- How often do you engage on your accounts? Daily? Weekly? Monthly? What is the nature of the communication? Does your target community engage with you?
- Are you monitoring important student forums in your target regions?
- Critical: Can you respond to inquiries in a timely manner? Social media without timely response is minimally valuable as a recruitment tool.
So much to consider, right? Don’t be daunted.
If you are going to compete in this market, haphazard is not the way to go. Roll up those sleeves and start gathering the relevant data. Soon you’ll be making data-informed decisions and seeking results that make your colleagues sit up and take notice.
And if you are asking yourself, how in the world will I find the time? Right! We feel your pain. That’s why we are here to do it for you. Reach out, firstname.lastname@example.org.