Technology and data are cornerstones of higher education success. Gone are the days when IT was its own world and didn’t touch every aspect of the college experience, from faculty to students to administration. Now, technology and data are embedded everywhere, and their impact on the student experience begins long before enrollment.
The Impacts of Data and Technology Across 5 Key Higher Ed Stakeholders
1. The Prospective Student
A prospective student’s first exposure to a school is likely through its website. Students will expect to easily find the information they’re seeking with fast and effective search functionality, similar pages strategically located next to each other, and plenty of intuitive and relevant crosslinks.
Students bring their expectations from consumer websites they visit and look for similar personalization on school sites. Once they’ve expressed interest in a program, being brought back to that content on the next visit makes them feel “seen” and positively impacts conversion rate. (Take our website optimization quiz to see if your website is using best practices.)
Another way schools make a connection with students early in their decision process is with digital marketing. Nurturing relationships by engaging prospective students in the consideration phase pays downstream benefits in enrollment gains.
Further, as students get to know a school through web-based channels (such as social media, email, search engines, livestreaming, online advertising, and web content), recruitment and marketing teams get the opportunity to listen and learn more about prospects. That data provides a clear view of the student journey and reveals patterns that recruitment, marketing, and enrollment pros can leverage to create more engaging and meaningful experiences for prospective students.
2. Marketing and Admissions Teams
The traditional “top-of-funnel” approach of relying on search lists is no longer helping schools meet their enrollment targets. Today’s admissions and recruitment strategies are shaped by technology and data. By reaching out to students when and how they’d like, and applying the resulting insights, schools are personalizing the admissions process for students while improving outcomes and ROI.
For example, by using marketing technology such as Google Cloud to centralize data from different platforms, our partners have gained a better understanding of marketing attribution and have been able to increase conversions from paid media channels by up to 15%. In some cases, they were able to reallocate up to 25% of their budgets for more effective spending by managing stages and specific audiences with more precision.
Using technology such as Google Cloud, Collegis collects and integrates data from a partner’s existing platforms to develop a clear understanding of attribution and provide complete visibility into the downstream impacts of marketing investments. This full-funnel view has helped partners increase conversions on paid media channels by up to 15%. In other cases, a robust data environment that yields actionable stage- and audience-related insights has helped partners reallocate substantial portions of their budget (up to 25%) to more effective tactics.
3. The Enrolled Student
Incoming higher ed enrollees — particularly members of the newest Gen Z wave — are digital natives. Naturally, this fact has wide implications for how these students expect to interact with the institution.
Students expect campus systems to work for them, not hinder them. Students can self-serve in almost every other aspect of their lives and, increasingly, they expect that same consumer experience to apply to their student experience. They want to be able to turn in assignments at their convenience, access academic resources 24/7 from anywhere, and take online classes in blended or HyFlex settings.
Campus life needs to align with their digital life. Powerful Wi-Fi in the dorms for streaming movies or playing video games without lag is a must. If they reach out for tech support, they expect prompt responses via text message or messaging app as well as engagement through more traditional methods if needed. (Find out how your campus tech measures up by taking our short IT readiness self-assessment.)
4. The Faculty & Staff
Empowered with data and technology, schools can fulfill their promise of educating today’s students. The right data activations can help faculty and staff identify students who are struggling or at risk of stopping out or dropping out, allowing them to focus their attention where it is most needed and, ultimately, improve student persistence and retention.
Technology should be an enabler, allowing faculty and staff to prioritize high-value activities. Minutes NOT spent wrestling with a tech issue allow professors to be more efficient and focus their time on what’s truly important.
5. The Higher Ed Leadership
The overwhelming majority of higher ed leaders (86%) expect competition in the marketplace to continue intensifying. Schools are vying for the same pool of students, and more than two-thirds of employees at America’s colleges and universities say they are likely to consider leaving their jobs.
Delivering exceptional experiences and efficient processes for prospects, students, faculty and staff gives higher ed institutions a competitive advantage. Data is the key.
Data alerts leadership to patterns and anomalies and answers the question of what’s changed. Data can identify new audiences and broaden the student base to new demographics and geographies. Data helps marketing teams test what works and what doesn’t while identifying where to spend effectively.
Data is a powerful guiding tool in higher education when it is collected, connected and activated in service of better decision-making.
Consider what your higher education institution could do with the right technology and data strategy.
Think about where your technology is falling short and where it can be optimized. We’re the experts at data-enabled growth, and as a Google Cloud partner, we can help you leverage your technology to collect and connect data from across your institution and then build out systems to activate it so you can make the data-informed decisions.
This is the first article in a series about data enablement’s capabilities. Read the next article.