Finding New Enrollments in Old Data


By: Christopher Tashjian Oct 21, 2016

“Why didn’t this student enroll?” This can be a frustrating question for higher ed marketing and enrollment teams, one that often leads to finger pointing. Post-secondary marketing and enrollment offices are not natural adversaries. In fact, they are both working toward the same goal: finding and enrolling students who will find success at their school. So how can leaders of these teams get everyone back on the same side? The answer is in the data. Too often schools do not effectively capture student information, or underuse the data that exists on prospective students. One of most common and egregious examples of underutilization is in placing all students who do not enroll in a broad, default bucket, like the catch-all of “not interested.” There are many reasons students may not enroll, and by mining that data, colleges and universities will gain a deeper understanding of why students do not matriculate, and thus be able to hone their marketing efforts to better identify prospects with a greater propensity for not only enrollment but also graduation. Institutions ready to invest in this missed opportunity should take the following steps to improve their enrollment yield.

Find systems synergy

The right tools make it easy to create meaningful categories, dig into data, and tailor marketing campaigns accordingly. The key is having systems that work symbiotically. When an enrollment team employs a technology-based solution with the capabilities to accurately disposition inquiries into meaningful categories and generate impactful reports based on these dispositions, it becomes easier to make data-driven decisions to manage inquiry flow and vendors.  The marketing team can then use that information to adjust their campaigns, especially if they employ an inquiry management system that can monitor and manage all aspects of the campaigns, including the quality and performance of multiple inquiry vendors and inquiry sources, in real time. By utilizing complementary systems, both teams can work together and apply the data to optimize campaigns, improving the quality of the inquiry pool.

Remind teams, they’re on the same team

Sometimes it can feel like enrollment and marketing teams are working toward mutually exclusive goals, with Marketing looking for new ways to reach more students and Enrollment narrowing its focus to increase student applications. Reminding the two teams that they share a mission to find the students whose needs will be best-served by their school is a big step in the right direction. The process of finding and enrolling students should be dynamic, with each team providing data from the “field”. By accurately defining which channels are providing the best prospects and exactly why students are or are not enrolling, both teams will be able to communicate more effectively and adjust their strategies accordingly.  

Dissect the data

Once a supportive system is in place and the groups are working together, marketing and enrollment teams can start focusing on the data.
This is where dispositioning inquiries accurately is critical. Without drilled-down segmenting, it will be nearly impossible to take the next step of looking for trends, patterns and anomalies within the data set. When inquiries are aptly dispositioned, meaningful conclusions can be deduced, such as a disconnect between the marketing message and the enrollment team message.
Closely examining the data can also reveal other trends, including vendor performance and marketing practices or techniques that could be affecting the school’s brand message and the prospects’ first impression of the school.

In conclusion

By investing in tools and resources to deepen the student recruitment process, colleges and universities can take advantage of missed opportunities.
All of the steps above can help schools reach more and better-qualified students through finely tuned marketing campaigns. Additionally, by delving deeper into the data they can discern the difference between students who are “not interested” overall and those who are “not interested” at that moment but could be ready to enroll in a few months.
Making a distinction such as this one creates a brand new pool of prospective students to cultivate and nurture, and can help identify a more fruitful marketing communication strategy. Finally, by looking through data, schools can not only become more efficient and effective recruiters, but they can also serve their students better.
When marketing and enrollment teams capitalize on existing data and work together, it creates a better overall experience for the prospective student by showcasing a school that is consistent in its approach to serving the needs of that student.