Higher education is an interesting industry in that, at any given time, you know who wants to enroll in a university and when. There are several schools to choose from and variety of factors to consider as a student finds the school that’s right for them. But, as higher education marketers, we have a leg up, and with the right strategies in place, can find the students that will thrive at that colleges and universities we represent.
So, while we know what students (and parents) are interested in starting the college search process, there are a few key things to keep in mind to ensure you find the right students for your institution.
1. Start early
Senior Search is a thing of the past. If you’re talking about Senior Search, you’re too late. They’ve built connections with other institutions, counselors, and campuses well before senior year. Students (and parents) are opting into the college search process as early as Sophomore year (if not before).
2. Buy often
Gone are the days of students being released after large testing days. Students (and parents) can opt-in to various sources at any time of year, and that means your acquisition strategy should be ready to pick them up. Consider buying from your top sources monthly or quarterly to ensure you are connecting withs opt-ins soon after they enter the system.
3. Consider the data
When acquiring students earlier in the cycle, the source of your names matters. Will you need to buy these students again the next year? Will these students have a test score in the future you might want? Does simply opting-in make them qualified for the audience you’re trying to engage with?
4. Don’t forget about your backyard
We talk to enrollment leaders each year about expanding territories and trying to pull students from new markets. While this is a fine approach, you never want to neglect your backyard. Overall, your home state, your 75-200-mile radius, your primary market, will yield highest. So, while expanding your footprint is fine, don’t neglect your backyard.
5. See what moves the needle
Certain sources perform better than others, respond at a higher rate, yield at a higher rate. If there are sources that you’re using that don’t perform, consider eliminating them from your strategy to use those budget dollars elsewhere.
Just as the student journey continues to evolve, so should your acquisition strategy, and we hope these 5 tips help!