The Cost of Enrollment Marketing
In a recent published NACCAP benchmarking report on enrollment marketing, the average member school spent just over $2,800 to recruit each student in their traditional incoming class. This number includes the entire enrollment budget.
While size, brand recognition, and geographic location obviously affect the overall cost, there are some best practices that could allow your budgeting dollars to stretch further for your enrollment marketing budget.
1. Search vs. Inbound Marketing
There is a debate regarding the effectiveness of traditional search purchases. Several schools have reported limited success, if any, from conversions in purchased lists. We have heard of $75K budgeted for search with 0 results. Something needs to change.
Could that search budget be partially reallocated into content creation? The new Google algorithm focuses more on the overall content of your site rather than any traditional SEO tricks. Utilizing valuable content creation, coupled with proper lead generation forms and follow-up can build a robust marketing list for your enrollment marketing plan. Rather than an either or proposition, try both.
Takeaway: Allocate some budget from traditional marketing outlets to inbound marketing strategies
2. Increase Your Customer Service
With talk of drones delivering our amazon.com orders to binging on an entire season of the latest Netflix series, we live in a “gotta-have-it-now” culture. It is critical to deliver and exceed on our client’s expectations when it comes to customer service. One of the most inexpensive ways to increase marketing effectiveness is to have your entire enrollment team excel in customer service.
That service could be smoothing out the process as the University of North Carolina has done for their international students to reviewing your own best practice list. Your admissions team has to do the best job possible to make the most of every on-campus visit and the standard customer service touch points: instant access to downloads; call backs within minutes, not days; immediate response.
Takeaway: Increase your response time in all media and hustle for every student, both on campus and virtually
3. Use Social Media
Using social media for conversation is critical. It cannot be just an activity outside of your other enrollment marketing activities. Your social media activity needs to be a strategic part of your content and inbound marketing to score well with Google, provide discovery on networks, and create conversation. Think beyond the typical news releases and student blogs. Create a strategy and stick to it.
Takeaway: Create a strategy for your social media that complements and enhances your other efforts
4. Move from Shotgun, to Rifle, and ultimately to Sniper
With today’s digital media landscape, there are opportunities to build brand awareness for a fraction of the cost of traditional broadcast and outdoor campaigns. While you may still need signage at your interstate exit, look for ways to correctly use pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns and online retargeting to build a brand awareness campaign specific to your audiences based upon geography and demographics. The use of digital tools and correct implementation can provide substantial results with limited budget and resources.
In addition to the brand awareness, you’ll start building targeted inbound marketing campaigns to create lead generation and email campaigns.
Takeaway: Shift outdoor and broadcast dollars to targeted digital campaigns
5. Review your Metrics
Above all, measure everything that you are doing. By installing the proper metrics (Google Analytics, Social Media Effectiveness, and Email Campaign Tools [UPDATE June 17, 2014: I was informed by a reader of a recent email review that might be beneficial via Mobilized.com]) you can start to understand a 360 degree view of what is working, what needs tweaked, and what may need abandoned. Your metrics will be the tools you use to determine the best headline for that email, the most effective tweet, and knowing what content is the best for your particular persona group.
Takeaway: Create metrics for all of your activities to make strategic updates and be most effective throughout the year