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Recruiting Intelligence

How to Say 'No' to Ideas That Aren't Good Enough

Brilliant and creative enrollment professionals, we know your pain.

So many great ideas, so little time, and so little budget.

It’s the refrain of higher education (that, and “Don’t talk to me during application season”). And while we know you want to tackle everything with an enthusiastic “yes”, saying “no” more often than “yes” is nearly always required to keep your institution and your strategy on track.

With budget season inching towards the finish line, we know you’re already thinking about putting that budget into action in the new fiscal year. We also know that making the most of that budget will require focus, a concrete plan, and most importantly, that discipline to say “no” to lots of shiny new ideas that pass you by.

Steve Jobs said it best: “Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do.” But with great ideas and options coming at you from all sides, how do you decide what will maximize value for your institution?

With this enrollment cycle murkier than ever and past performance clearly not indicative of future success, turning your gaze on some downhome marketing truths is a good idea.

Read on for five key questions to ask yourself next time that lightbulb moment hits you and your team. Our insights will help you hone your efforts on the ideas that will produce results and justify that budget.

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Slate Users Speak: Getting Real About Technolutions’ CRM Platform Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of our Slate series. You didn't think we'd forget about the international student recruitment/admissions perspective, did you? 

But let's stay with domestic student recruiting and enrollment management for just a moment. Intead and iSchoolConnect are participating in a Chronicle of Higher Ed webinar event on Thurs, Feb. 4 that you truly won't want to miss. Colleagues from SUNY Fredonia, U of Richmond, and Robert Morris, along with some special guests all addressing the challenges of technology implementation on university campuses. Register Here.

Now, about that Slate CRM! In Part 1 last week we shared the experiences of a variety of Slate users in universities across the US, including admissions directors, associate directors, specialists, and one CRM manager/power user. We talked all things integration, training and support, and the universally dreaded: getting queries to give you the information you want. 

This week we're talking all things international, as well as sharing our users' feedback on the cost and value of Slate to their institution. 

In our work with institutions on international student recruitment campaigns, we're all too familiar with the domestic/international divide when it comes to resourcing and decision-making influence. And in our discussions with users about Slate integration, some international admissions staff reported a similar disconnect in their experiences with initial training and usage of the platform. 

Again, we are grateful to our interviewees for sharing their valuable time and perspectives with us. Read on to learn how international recruiting/admissions teams are making Slate work for them. 

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Slate Users Speak: Getting Real About Technolutions’ CRM Platform Part 1

Weathering the challenges of 2021 and beyond requires serious enrollment management. And enrollment management lives or dies based on the the team you have in place, and the technology they rely on. So, let’s take a look at the platforms that can help your team do a better job.

Back in a 2019 post, we asked the question — is Slate all that?  That post, in which we discussed the features and benefits of Technolutions’ banner EdTech platform, is among our most-read posts ever.

With Slate now used by over 1,300 colleges and universities (up from 950 institutions in our 2019 post), the answer, it seems, is clear… Or is it?

Recruitment competition is fierce and getting fiercer as the student population declines and generally adjusts to the travel-resistant phase we are in. With the right platform in place, an institution has the ability to segment student audiences and create messaging and content that speak directly to each audience. Oh, and track the results so you can improve over time -- no small thing.

With the Slate buzz growing, so too has the online discussion and questions about integration, ease of use, and customer support. What does this rapid growth mean for the quality of their ongoing user support? Does Slate’s comprehensive range of features offer more complexity than it does value? How does Slate fare in the nuanced world of domestic vs. international student admissions?

To dig deeper, we spoke to a variety of Slate users in universities across the US, including admissions directors, associate directors, specialists, and one CRM manager/power user. Our Slate users ranged from seasoned pros, now on their fourth or fifth admissions cycles with the platform, to new adopters, with just a single admission cycle under their belts. We are grateful to our interviewees for sharing their valuable time and perspectives with us.

Some themes that emerged across universities were surprising, others, less so. Spoiler alert: if you aren’t yet a Slate query master, you’re not alone.

For current Slate users, we hope there is validation and inspiration to be found in the experiences shared by your fellow institutions. And for those contemplating Slate, consider this two-part series a comprehensive alternative to those lengthy product review forums you’ve been combing. Read on.

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Quick Hit Digital Campaigns: Performance Benchmarks (3)

We can’t dive into our digital marketing insights this week without first acknowledging where we are right now here in the US. As human beings, we share an acute craving for security. Such a strong desire for a return to “normal”.

This desire for safety cannot stand in the way of our need for change. We, as a community, stand for diversity of thought, culture, and expression. We stand for academic exploration and shared knowledge.

Our team brings the fortitude and commitment to stand day after day and stare straight ahead. We will continue to embrace opportunities to be in this community together, with each other and for each other.

Remember where to look when you need support and encouragement. Courage grows with numbers. We will be here, standing up for our shared ideals for as long as we are able.

And with that weighty and heartfelt commitment to all of you, we will turn to the business of the day with a much lighter tone—

We don’t usually endorse cheating off your neighbor’s paper, but today, we’re making an exception in the spirit of moving us all forward.

We’re excited to share this work with you: actual digital marketing campaign results from a campaign we recently ran for a US institution targeting international student prospects in Colombia and South Africa. We’re offering you a case study with real, granular detail straight from our marketing dashboards to help you answer digital marketing’s most common questions:

  • Am I doing this right?
  • What should I measure?
  • What does success look like?

Read on for a case study snapshot and to download the full version for yourself. We’re talking real performance data here, including top performing creative assets, actual CPC, CPM, and conversion data, and more.

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2021: The Year of Research-informed Growth

While the holiday season may look a little different this year, our gratitude for this community remains steadfast.

If this year has proven anything, it’s what we’ve known all along, that the education community is resilient. That connection and communication, whether from six feet away or six thousand miles away, via text, email, Slack, Zoom, FaceTime, and even TikTok, is what keeps us moving forward and growing together. Here’s to weathering the storm, together, whatever may come our way.

Two more pearls of wisdom validated this year:

  • Taking care of yourself is relief work.
  • You are never far from that source of community and energy that helps keep you going.

Turns out the airline safety videos had it right all along: put your own mask on first and then help those around you put on theirs.

We will be taking next week off from the Recruiting Intelligence Blog and hope you’ll be taking some well-deserved rest, too.

Read on for a preview of the year ahead (new research, insights and more). Plus, a look at how Ben has been faring alone in the Intead office while the rest of the team works remotely...

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6 Key Takeaways for Smart Technology Investments — Free Download

Our advice from a few weeks back: To survive current enrollment and revenue challenges, institutions must stop cutting at some point and invest in growth.

We know you have questions. How do you encourage a culture of innovation? How do you get a slow-moving institution to make smart, growth-focused investments? How do you manage the risks inherent in these investments? And, most importantly, what are the “smart investments” your institution should be making?

We’ve been doing the research and gathering the experts. On November 16th, Intead and iSchoolConnect hosted a webinar Predicting Revenue, Enrollment & Student Success to address these questions and more, with a focus on how investments in data and technology can help generate predictable revenue for your institution and pave the way for transformational growth.

In the webinar, Ben Waxman (CEO, Intead) and Ashish Fernando (CEO, iSchoolConnect) also introduced the new Intead / iSchoolConnect partnership -- a powerful relationship and suite of end-to-end admissions and student success-focused solutions that combine Intead’s wealth of experience in market research and strategic digital communications with iSchoolConnect’s Google-recognized technology services.

The webinar discussion tapped the wisdom and deep experience of:

  • Lisa Adams, MD: Associate Dean for Global Health, Director of the Center for Global Health Equity, Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine
  • Jesus Trujillo Gomez: Strategic Business Executive for Higher Ed at Google Cloud
  • Kerry Salerno: CMO, Babson College
  • Hillary Dostal: Economics Adjunct Professor and Lecturer, Northeastern University and Endicott College

If you missed the webinar, you can watch the recording in full right here. You can also play it in the background while you work, but we like to think our bright, smiling faces bring some added value! : ) 

And if you haven’t got an hour to spare, you’re in luck — a new Key Takeaways PDF download is available for free at the end of this post. These insights shared by our panelists are just too valuable to miss. It is a quick and helpful read.

Read on for webinar highlights and the Key Takeaways download link.

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Student Recruitment Insights from AIRC 2020 Conf - Slides Available

We’ve been presenting at the AIRC conference for eleven years now, and while the gathering looks very different this year, the value of connection and the wealth of ideas shared was a comforting constant from years past in Miami. Although we did miss the poolside networking on a warm December evening.

This year, members of the Intead team were honored to present two sessions together with our amazing colleagues from universities and other experts in the field focused on the AIRC 2020 Vision of “Charting the Waters.”

At Intead, charting the waters of this year has meant gathering and analyzing data, developing targeted, clear (and comforting) communications during this difficult time, and strategizing around new markets and tools to help institutions move their enrollment goals forward.

This absolutely gut-wrenching year, we started addressing the radical changes to student enrollment and student success on February 19 with a blog about adjusting the approach to recruiting international students from China. Days later, we convened enrollment management and study abroad experts for two powerful webinars addressing global ramifications (here and here). This year, our team has published, non-stop, with enrollment management guidance in toolkits, case studies, and eBooks (in addition to this weekly blog).

Read on for a collection of our highest value tips and to download our AIRC presentation slides. You'll find that oh-so-happy link at the bottom of today's post. (Making you work for it ; -)

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When the Cutting is Done, the Smart Investing

As we engage with our colleagues at the AIRC virtual conference this week and next, the discussions have us thinking, planning, and doing.

The financial challenges are quite real and the losses in the world of academia will continue to pile up in the near term. Survival and growth are possible, and your team knows that. Your leadership is engaged in some exceedingly difficult decision making right now.

Here are the financial realities: While deep and troubling, many institutions have been here before and frankly, this kind of pain is not all that new. Pandemic or no, institutions were heading for a financial crisis. Current circumstances have sped up the process. Those that have survived these challenges in the past stop cutting at some point and invest in growth.

We all want those investments in growth to be the right ones, but how do we know? Let’s look to our industry experts from our fellow AIRC members working in the trenches, to Moody’s Global Services, and the Chronicle of Higher Ed and make some sense of this. Concrete advice follows. Read on. 

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Is Flexible Incrementalism the Answer to Student Enrollment Growth?

According to Moody’s reports on the financial pain 4-year institutions are facing, higher ed administrators are managing a host of escalating challenges.

What we know: cutting your way to success has never worked for any institution.

What we want: strategic, incremental investments that pay off.

But which ones will lead to predictable enrollment growth and revenue? Oh, and student success?

There is a guiding light, a process to achieving this kind of success.

With technology playing an increasingly critical role in every aspect of our lives, especially now, academic institutions have recognized the need to accelerate the adoption and development of digitally oriented enrollment processes and education delivery. These moves can reverse enrollment declines and support the quality of education that students and families expect. A new partnership between Intead, iSchoolConnect, and Google addresses these needs with a smart, agile, and modular approach.

Framed as a modern and flexible model, incremental investments in technology for marketing and student success can align university leadership, administrators and importantly, faculty. CFOs take note, this is a plan for predictable enrollment and revenue streams.

The team delivering on this approach brings deep skills in marketing, enrollment management, and technology to support academic institutions through transformative initiatives carried out incrementally.

The goal is to produce an enrollment management transformation and a re-imagined approach to student success. Affordable marketing and AI-powered technology investments, each with clear transactional wins (think ROI) that justify the process, move the institution through a series of system improvements and enhancements toward the envisioned state. 

We’ve been here before, and we know that transformation is tough at large institutions. Bold and expensive strokes often fail to build the necessary stakeholder buy-in. The result: limited successes, far less than envisioned. 

Incrementalism recognizes that there are common modules every institution will want to address (recruitment, enrollment management, alumni relations, student and career services, etc.). Each institution is different in how and when each valued area blends into the transformation effort.

Read on to view our latest webinar in which I am joined by Ashish Fernando, iSchoolConnect CEO, and a panel of excellent guest speakers from Dartmouth, Babson, Northeastern, and Google to discuss how this new approach can pave the way to predictable, affordable, and transformative enrollment results. 

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The End of False Promises

Tracking the macro indicators of market growth and decline is where we were at the start of our journey more than a decade ago. The Intead team defined the global market opportunity for student enrollment in ways we felt others were not seeing. And we published our findings and ideas.

While we in higher education are no strangers to global enrollment shocks, there’s no getting around the reality that the year 2020 and the seismic health, political, and economic shifts have challenged our collective efforts to achieve institutional growth. The student enrollment declines being reported are very real and so many of us are feeling them and anticipating more declines in the near term.

Just this week IIE and the National Student Clearinghouse are providing new data showing how the student market has changed for the worse. These numbers are absolutely worth watching and it all makes for good headlines.

Yet, the team here has moved far beyond those headlines and numbers you are seeing. As we approach each new client engagement, we are focused on where specifically the opportunities lie. Which micro demographic? Age range? Region? Academic program interest? Which market differentiators will be attractive and where? Specifically. Globally and locally.

A wealth of data available to make really smart decisions

Today, there is so much data to analyze to help define the real market opportunities for each institution. Given the harsh market conditions, decisions today will determine which institutions will thrive going forward. In some cases, it is about which ones will simply maintain, forget about thrive. Many are trying to predict the future and with investment in the right tools, that is possible.

"Really?" You ask. "Yes," we reply.

The reality: Your bottom line is more important than ever. Your budget? Smaller than ever. Your enrollment goals? More challenging than ever. Your students? Struggling to succeed.

With so much of this past year being entirely unpredictable, a little confidence in the future would be truly welcome.

Luckily, there is an achievable path forward to predictable and sustainable enrollment growth. We’re talking long-term transformational growth here — those “Aha!” moments that transform your institutional practices and reality for years to come. Interested?

Today we are talking to all of you big picture thinkers.

Enter: Predictive analytics.

We know what some of you may be thinking. Long a buzzword in higher education, predictive analytics strategies often come with a “proceed with caution” label and (valid) concerns about budget, staffing, and implementation.

But we’re here to change all that with our new eBook — The End of False Promises: A Guide to Real Predictive Analytics Success.

In this newest Intead publication, we discuss predictive analytics, past, present, and future, including our vision for a manageable, affordable path to incorporating data- and Artificial Intelligence-powered (AI) solutions throughout the student journey at your institution.

To bring this new reality of actionable predictive analytics services to life, we have partnered with iSchoolConnect, a growing leader in advanced EdTech artificial intelligence (AI) tools, to create a new model for marketing, communications, and analytics for academia. Bonus: as one of the world’s few official Google Cloud partners, this new tie-up has access to data insights and resources others only dream of!

The successful approach we are talking about relies on flexible, incremental investments that produce clear returns. With a trusted partner guiding your institution forward on this journey, the transactional successes add up to transform your entire system for enrollment management and student success.

Read on for a quick-hit predictive analytics crash course and to download your free copy of the new eBook. Plus, a closer look at the new Intead + iSchoolConnect approach.

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