As the number of high school graduates who choose to enroll in college steadily declines (while costs and competition continue to rise), there is little wonder that shrinking enrollment is a looming concern for the higher education industry. Yet, marketing, enrollment and retention teams are expected to mitigate — or even reverse — these trends for their institution. What amounts to a continual challenge for most institutions is now further complicated by a host of market factors:
- First, there is fierce competition for the attention of the same student population — and that is driving substantial increases to paid media costs. Exploding budgets at the largest institutions have created an arms race for paid media placement. Schools are struggling to deliver a healthy return on investment against the size of the competition and are left looking for alternative approaches for attracting and enrolling right-fit students.
- Next, the habits and behaviors of the typical college-aged student are changing rapidly. The digitally native and media savvy Gen Z population brings high expectations for their interactions with a school’s outreach efforts — informed by the personalized experiences they have with consumer brands.
- Finally, higher education has more data than ever before. But these applications, systems and platforms don’t always talk to each other — and that can leave enrollment and marketing teams without an integrated picture of which strategies and tactics are working to bring more students in the door (as well as which ones aren’t).
Overcoming Challenges with Data Enablement
Schools can address each of these challenges through “data enablement,” which is the term we use for the process of collecting, connecting and activating marketing, enrollment and student data to improve institutional processes, make more informed decisions, and strengthen student experiences.
With such outsized competition in the paid media marketplace, schools need to optimize campaigns and channel mix. Precise enrollment attribution reporting can generate metrics like cost per inquiry, cost per application and even cost per enrollment, all of which can inform the ability for schools to pinpoint the marketing investments with the highest potential. With this information, schools can use their marketing dollars more effectively, for the same level of investment. Connecting marketing performance data to down-funnel enrollment data — data sets that are typically siloed across disparate systems — is the key.
Does your site remember a student’s last visit and present them with information that is relevant to their previous searches? Do your follow-up emails arrive at the time of day when a student prefers to be contacted? For the eternally online Gen Zers who expect such individualized outreach, personalization has proven to deliver better results for marketers. Schools need a unified profile of a student to deliver this level of personalized marketing — and that requires capturing and integrating data at every point in their research and enrollment journey.
Activating Data to Unlock Answers
Integrating data from multiple systems — and then leveraging that data to build activations and automations that deliver efficiencies and results — demands a specific and specialized data technology skill set. Unfortunately, talent with those skills is highly in-demand and often out of reach of the hiring budgets for higher education institutions.
Data from your CRM, SIS, LMS, Google Analytics and advertising platforms can be collected and connected on a system such as Google Cloud. With the right people in place, data activations can be built that deliver valuable insights and business intelligence for the institution.
Helping schools meet today’s challenges is why Collegis created our Data Enablement as a Service offering. Our team knows higher ed technology systems, and because we’re product-agnostic, we can work with your existing platforms. We then identify use cases that deliver impactful insights for enrollment attribution, marketing personalization, and data-driven decision-making.
The key to driving enrollment growth lies within your school’s data. Unlock the value of your data with Collegis. Let’s start a conversation.