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Recruiting Intelligence

The More Things Change…The More We Need to Figure Out

So, ICE tells all the online international students in the U.S. to go home and Harvard tells all students to go online for Fall 2020 (without lowering tuition). That’s quite a news day.

From day to day, the landscape continues to shift, sometimes dramatically.

If you’ve missed the past few months of Recruiting Intelligence posts because you’ve had other pressing priorities (we get it), then you may want to take a scroll through it all.

Read on for a quick summary of all the things we all need to figure out. (Spoiler alert: we've already figured out a lot of them).

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Quick Hit Digital Campaigns: Performance Benchmarks (2)

Listening to a radio interview this past weekend, I heard a fantastic analogy from a recording artist describing why she collaborated with others on her most recent album:

When you go to the playground and bounce the ball off the wall by yourself, you know how it will bounce back to you.

Collaborating with other talented people produces more than you can produce by yourself. And it often produces the unexpected bounce that takes your project to the next level. Today we will look at a digital marketing case study for a campaign we ran in India, Brazil, and the U.S.

This is our second post in our enrollment management series addressing the question of how much of a media budget do you need to succeed with your digital student recruitment campaigns?

The answer: Benchmarks are the signposts to improvement and success. When you run campaigns, you capture the data that tells you how to improve. Collaborate with us and we will help you get the desired campaign bounce (not bounce rate – that’s something entirely different ; -)

We are providing our community with case studies offering a level of detail you simply do not find out there. We look at case studies offered up on other websites and often we are perplexed by what their definition of “case study” is. What we are providing: actual campaign results to help you know if you are doing things right.

Our recent enrollment marketing campaigns for a range of institutions have targeted student audiences in Kenya, South Africa, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Italy, France, India, and of course, the US. Campaigns on the horizon will target recruitment stalwarts: China, India, and South Korea as well as Australia and Canada.

Pro tip: you’ll want to share these posts with your team. Better yet, get them to subscribe to our blog.

And here is a link to last week’s Intead Blog and Case Study about Kenya and Ecuador in case you missed it.

Read on for perspective on the talent and budget needed to make your next digital student recruitment campaign even more successful.

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Quick Hit Digital Campaigns: Performance Benchmarks (1)

How much of a media budget do you need to succeed with your digital student recruitment campaigns?

The answer: Benchmarks are the signposts to improvement and success. When you run campaigns, you capture the data that tells you how to improve.

For the next few weeks in this enrollment management series, the Intead team will share what marketing agencies rarely, if ever, share publicly: real campaign results to help you know if you are doing things right.

Just looking at some of our recent enrollment marketing campaigns for a range of institutions, we have targeted student audiences in Kenya, South Africa, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Italy, France, India, and of course, the U.S. More campaigns on the horizon will target recruitment stalwarts: China, India, and South Korea as well as Australia and Canada.

Do you see any of your target audiences in this set? Thought so.

Pro tip: you’ll want to share these posts with your team. Better yet, get them to subscribe to our blog.

Read on for perspective on setting leadership’s expectations for future success, what to throw into a campaign (talent and budgets), and the real, detailed benchmarks to measure your performance. Yes, all of that (but you have to read to the end to get it ; -)

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Perceived Value: Online vs. On Campus

What are your students willing to pay for an online education?

Here is what you are really after: given your brand reputation, the demographics of your student cohort and the potential to create a new service delivery model, what should you offer and how much should you charge for it?

Let’s get that answered!

Our primary message: custom research into what your student cohort is willing to pay for your brand on campus or online is invaluable. An important part of innovation is the upfront market research that points your team in the right direction.

Below we review some new pricing research that offers insights and a conceptual approach to getting this type of data for your institution.

The context: During a high school Zoom graduation ceremony we watched this past week (my niece got her paper!), the valedictorian shared the experience of his last day in high school in March this year – a day like any other, except that at the end of it, the principal quite suddenly told everyone there would be no school the next day. A mundane day that suddenly marked the end of all he had worked for. No celebration, no Senior Week pranks, no high fives, just, head home and, as it turned out, don’t return.

His comment at the close of his valedictorian graduation speech: Don’t ever doubt that the world can change in an instant.

Across the globe, students and institutions shared that experience. How will all those valedictorians and all their friends make decisions going forward. College? Job? Remote learning and a job?

Read on for pricing research perspective to get you thinking.

And watch this space over the next few weeks as we dive into the doing that is prompted by the thinking. We’ll be sharing detailed case studies of some of the successful digital marketing work we’ve been doing for a variety of institutions around the world.

Yes, even during a pandemic, especially during a pandemic, digital marketing will connect you with your target audiences. We will show you how and give you benchmarks to help you evaluate how you are doing.

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Investing in Growth, Looking Beyond Fall

Your institution’s mission has not changed.

Despite all that is swirling around us, you are still in the business of helping people improve and achieve. You are still helping them understand what to learn and how to learn it.

Resilience is Built

Many institutional leadership teams are demonstrating the very resilience their mission statements say they will instill in their students. Others are suggesting business as usual with little change to their operations beyond physical distancing practices.

Investing in adaptation and innovation builds long-term resilience. This is what students are doing by investing in their educations – building resilience.

What is the story we tell students and parents? “Take the risk. We know it is a lot of money, but you’ll be better off in the long-term.” We tell students to invest in a 4-year growth plan, and we reinforce it along the way, “Don’t be deterred! Finish in 4 years!”

Are academic leaders following that same advice to build resilience for their institutions? Or are they crying poor, just like the students they are trying to convince to spend savings and take on debt for future gains?

Here’s the thing: institutions rarely stick to their own 4-year plans.

Example: Enrollment marketing initiatives often start with 3-5 year plans. The team acknowledges that real returns won’t materialize in years 1 or 2. And then, turnover in senior administrators and other outside factors suddenly defund the growth plan and little to no progress gets made. The planned investment halts after just 12 months.

I’m sure you’ve seen this happen all too often.

What To Do?

Develop the vision. Build the buy-in. Invest in the execution. Stay the course.

We will be adding a new set of research and resources available to our Intead Plus members over the next 8 weeks to help you do just that.

Read on to take a look at where forward-looking institutions are making these investments for longer-term growth (case studies are available).

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Connecting the Dots for Enrollment Success

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.

Deep breath.

And again.

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.

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The Student Journey Re-Imagined

Customer journey mapping is an important thing as you build a digital marketing plan. How do customers first become aware of your brand? What do they consider along the way? What can you deliver to them to speak convincingly to those considerations?

We’ve done quite a few posts about micro-conversions (from our NAFSA session last year - among other posts). The idea is that you give your digital prospects the information they want at the right time to take them to the next step or next consideration in the process. You don’t just push the “apply now” button at the get go.

So, with all that is going on with enrollment issues right now, why are we talking about customer journey mapping? Because the decision-making process for your students – both prospective and current, both international and domestic – has changed. A lot.

This is the right time to re-consider how your digital marketing (website, ads, social media) are speaking to your many student segments about what you have to offer, before they defer for the next year and the connection you’ve worked so hard to create dissipates and then disappears, along with the tuition payments.

Read on for tips and perspective on why this is so important.

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Explain Digital Marketing To Your Colleagues (to justify your budget)

Your focus these past few weeks been a bit off? It’s not just me?

There have been a few more distractions than usual as we all try to get our work done. Still, there are important decisions to be made and the reality is, in our line of work, we truly do make a difference for a heck of a lot of people. Not quite on par with our amazingly dedicated healthcare providers and food supply chain workers. 

Still, helping students adjust to the academic experience that just went kablooey has its place.

The Intead team has been offering a lot of very specific perspective and advice to salvage enrollment numbers and stabilize institutional revenue streams. These are the underpinning of your faculty doing what they do, so that your students can do what they do. We are all connected.

This post has a lot to do with building collaborative teams and advocating for your department budget.

We hope you are taking time to read our recent blog posts and finding some good food for thought in there to support your student marketing initiatives. Now is definitely the time to innovate. And since so much of that student recruitment work is going to be digital, we thought it might be helpful if we gave you a great shareable infographic that simplifies the whole digital marketing process.

Sometimes, we find that the broad university teams we are working with includes colleagues who are not steeped in the digital marketing processes that we swim in every day. We thought you might find yourself in that situation more often than you’d like. Use the graphic below in your reports, in your slide decks, in your emails to those who approve your budget...

Read on for our practical ideas to help you stay focused and build broad team collaboration (and perhaps help you justify the budget request to make your digital marketing succeed).

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Go with the Flow: The How of Nurturing Leads

The first day of spring, for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, is only 15 days away (not like we’re counting or anything.) Those few extra minutes of sunlight and that fresh feeling in the air got us thinking…about gardening. Taking our minds off the non-stop Coronavirus news.

With much of the spring international education conference circuit on hold, you just might catch us spending a bit more time in wide-brim straw hats with a gardening trowel. ; -)

But there IS something about the art of gardening — selecting the right plants, planting them in the right soil, providing them with the appropriate sunlight, water and food, that strikes a chord in our little marketing hearts.

Yes, we’re talking about nurturing.

If we consider your student leads as your fledgling flowers, how are you tending to them? Are you providing them with individualized care tailored to their needs? And, most importantly, are you guiding them towards a pathway to growth, or in our case, enrollment?

We’ve already discussed the power of segmenting your pool of student leads on this blog, as well as outlined different methods to segment in order to effectively develop content strategy around prospective students’ areas of interest. These posts are a few of our most read over time, getting consistent new readers each month.

Now, an important aside about email marketing...if you are among those who say, "Email is dead. Students don't read email." That may be because you are not putting any content in your email worth reading. We ALL delete useless sales emails on sight.

Reality Check (based on data): When a student prospect is engaged, they read your email. The onus is on you to engage them.

Segmentation is the first step to nurturing effectively, so make sure you have those defined audiences in place before you focus on today’s article: The How of Nurturing Leads. We’ll be offering you concrete suggestions for structuring email nurturing campaigns, as well as how to efficiently strategize your email topics and deliverables. Read on. 

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Is Your .edu Part of The IT Crowd?

A few years back, the business world faced an onslaught of new domain extensions. Companies formerly satisfied with their .com addresses suddenly had new options to choose from: .info, .biz, and the like. Even .cool made the scene. 

While the gold standard for academic sites has always been .edu, alternatives such as .college, .degree, .education, and .university present a new, distinctly 21st century challenge: how can you protect your institution from copycat sites?

More importantly, is it just brand management at stake, or does the availability of these domain names put your students’ privacy and online safety at risk?

There seem to be more #EdTech issues emerging every month. We're here to help make some sense of it all. When it comes to protecting your institution’s digital footprint in today’s ever-changing tech landscape, a bit of research and a thoughtful game plan can save you a great deal of headache. Today, we look at these digital hazards and make some concrete recommendations. Read on. 

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