Let’s pause for just a minute or two and take a few deep breaths. The pace of all that is going on, right?
With this post, we are going to connect a few dots. Reconfirm the why’s and how’s of what we are doing in the enrollment management arena.
Right now, we see civil unrest around us that is the expression of communities not understanding each other. Lack of cultural understanding, lack of connection, lack of empathy, all leading to severe consequences. This is an age-old struggle and we, in the education sector, pour our hearts into changing the underlying factors that contribute to the mess we find ourselves in.
Getting our work right really does matter. Education IS such a huge part of moving our communities in the right direction.
For most of us, maybe all of us, recent events make it crystal clear why we do this: every mind opened, every cultural connection built, is a win.
To achieve loftier goals, the academic institution must remain economically viable. And we need the students to enroll.
We know, looking ahead, more dramatic change is coming as we navigate various immigration decrees and virus news. We’ve all been working really hard to maintain the pace and make smart decisions. So, let’s just pause and reflect for a moment and connect some dots.
In short, the process is: view the data, assess the tools, make a plan, execute. Sounds simple, right ; -)
Our Intead Plus library of recruitment content and worksheets has supported so many. It’s out there if you need it. Below we review our process with some helpful lists to get you thinking, considering.
This is such an important time to plan and act.
Often, as the team here begins our projects with a new client, institutional leaders apologize for the many silos across their campuses that hold information and work far too independently. We are often tasked with gathering the necessary information and bringing as much unity to the siloed teams as possible.
Getting our important work done the best way: There are so many approaches and so many adjustments that are necessary as circumstances and the people involved shift. All of our talents for listening, embracing and connecting ideas, all of this is needed from all of us.
There are underlying processes to how we do enrollment marketing that are essential and consistently required regardless of the circumstances. These processes adapt as situations change.
Knowing where your processes stand, and which dots might need more attention has real value. Read on and consider whether your enrollment management system’s dots are functioning holistically.
We start with data and technology. With every project, our initial approach is to collect the data available and evaluate the underlying technology tools available to capture and process data. Every institution is at a different place with their ability to capture and use data effectively.
Don’t be too hard on yourself, here. We’ve yet to find an institution that has this down pat. In part, that is because digital marketing has been changing rapidly for more than two decades now — the tools change as the people using it change, and you end up with missed steps along the way. That’s reality.
As Intead Advisory Board Member Hillary Dostal from Northeastern University says, “There’s best practice and then there is actual practice.” We must learn to live with actual practice and engage in the process of continual improvement.
The primary data we look at:
- Enrollment Data – the complete enrollment funnel from inquiry to enrollment by region, by discipline.
- Student Experience Data – from our surveys and focus groups with students by region, by discipline.
- Outcome Data – how your grads are doing by region, by discipline.
- Google Analytics traffic to your website – what is clicked? How long on site? Which pages viewed? by region, by city, by time of day, (and so much more).
- Digital Marketing Data – ad performance, email performance, social media engagement by region, by discipline.
- Economic Data – employment rates, GDP, currency exchange rates, industry growth rates (where the jobs are), by region.
- Immigration data – visa and work policies by region (travel ban list anyone?)
- Health data (new to the list) – pandemic data, plans, policies by region.
The technology we consider:
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
- Marketing Automation Platform (MAP)
- Learning Management System (LMS)
- Student Information System (SIS)
- Content Management System (CMS)
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) Applications
- Social Media accounts
Following this assessment, we want to understand how an institution engages and leverages its alumni from a student recruitment point of view. We create a plan to employ this fan base.
We also look at the international recruiting agent network available and how well that remote team is trained, managed, and supported. Again, we create a plan to employ this valuable recruiting system.
We assess the digital marketing systems in place and the people available to make use of these systems. Are the right skills available to create, deploy and consistently analyze the results? The analysis is critical to make ongoing adjustments – continual improvement is critical to a successful digital campaign. We create a plan to leverage digital marketing.
Recruitment travel has suddenly become far less important than ever before. It will return as a critical part of the picture, but presently, the funds that used to support this expensive, yet valuable, recruitment tactic, are far better spent on digital marketing initiatives. As circumstances change, we evaluate and adjust the recruitment travel plans and make sure they are supported by digital marketing and social media activity.
Once we have these plans approved, our team executes on each one of them seeking to engage the many departments across the campus that have important roles to play in the student recruitment process.
Take the time to review each of these dots – being sure they have the structure (staff skills and tools) in place to support them at appropriate levels. Most institutions are not crushing it in every one of these areas. Again, there is best practice and actual practice.
Together, we can engage the process of continual improvement and make things better. We have important work to do. We have lofty goals.
Let’s get to it.