Increasing Enrollment and Spending Less. After Parting Ways with a National Enrollment Management Firm.
In order to stay viable in a tough recruiting market, Newman University hired a nationally known firm to help boost enrollment. While this firm delivered on their promise to increase applications, the admissions staff at Newman were flummoxed: over an 8-year period, the increased applications never resulted in more deposited students.
Newman University in Wichita, Kansas is, all things considered, crushing it.
Newman is a small Catholic university with roughly 1,200 undergraduate students, many of whom come from a historically reliable, but highly competitive, concentrated feeder market. Despite its good reputation and unique service-oriented mission, Newman had struggled to remain relevant in the increasingly tough war for prospective students.
When they first hired a large enrollment marketing vendor to help them grow, Newman initially felt relief as applications spiked…significantly. Unfortunately, their peace of mind was short lived, as it turned out that a staggering 47% of these applications were incomplete.
Several factors accounted for the high number of incomplete applications (and for the very low yield they generated). Chief among them was that the firm Newman had hired made applying to Newman too easy. This encouraged students who were very unlikely to attend Newman to apply anyway. These were soft applicants—poor matches from the start.
The Better Way
On our first trip to Wichita, we started by getting to know all the things that make Newman the special, life-changing institution it is.
Once we had a full understanding of its core values and mission, we set to work making sure that the students who were a good fit for Newman were being:
- Accurately identified through strategic, data-driven decisions and name buys
- Talked to in the most personal, most relevant way possible (not with generic, same-to-all messaging)
- Made aware of their qualification for merit scholarships so they had a better sense of the true cost of attendance
In addition to identifying the right students to target, we also advised Newman to buy best-fit
names as they became available and to continually add them to the search campaign.
This “always on” approach helped ensure that the campaign was perpetually fueled with
the best possible leads.
Once we helped Newman start talking to the right students, we sent them waves of
personalized messaging (about their academic and extracurricular interests, for example)
and attracted them to microsites where they could further express their interests and
concerns and get responses in real time.
Every action a student took on the microsite was tracked and reported, and automated daily reports were sent to counselors alerting them to new information about the prospects. This more targeted, personalized approach has reaped dividends for Newman, despite a nearly 50% decrease in soft applicants. Over the course of our three-year partnership, they have: