Colleges have several marketing channels at their disposal to aid in student recruitment. While the end goal is to build enrollment, commercial ‘lead generation’ tactics are traditionally used in enrollment marketing. With enrollment rates declining and many colleges struggling to meet goals it’s time to evaluate the traditional marketing outlets and look at how new digital channels can aid with lead generation and nurturing.
Lead Generation Tactics
To start let’s look at some of the lead generation tactics that both for-profit and non-profit colleges rely on for student recruitment.
1: List Purchases
This method is a staple of higher ed marketing. Colleges purchase bulk student contact information from a third party vendor and pay on a per record basis for student information such as email, HHI, YOG, SAT/ACT score, ethnicity, etc. The biggest list buy vendors in higher education are College Board, NRCCUA, CBSS, and ACT. Colleges. Colleges pay up to $.50 per student record, then mail, email, call, and /or text students on the purchased lists. This list gives colleges a large volume of contacts, but they are just that – contacts. Colleges have no way of knowing if a student has any interest in their school.
2: Traditional Ads
TV, billboard and print ads, long considered an effective marketing tool for higher ed are expensive, don’t offer measurable ROI and are declining in effectiveness among today’s digital-dependent undergraduate and graduate candidates.
3: Digital Ads
This method entails buying ads on websites, mobile apps and social platforms where audiences are targeted using collected information about their purchasing habits and interests. The advantages of this method include broad reach and are cost effective, however, almost all college bound students are spending most of their time in gateway social apps such as Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, WeChat and others. So, if you’re not targeting them there, your investment isn’t performing for you.
4: Social Networks
Social networks allow educational institutions and providers to connect with students whose profiles fit their criteria and interests. Students join and complete profiles, their interests and academic achievements. Both students and educators can control what they share and who they’re contacting. Schools can contact or recruit students who match their preferences.
A Matching website uses filters or questionnaires to help students find the institutions that are a good fit for them. A list of schools that matches a student’s preferences is provided as “recommendations” rather than advertisements, and students are encouraged to contact the schools. This empowers students to find the education that matches their needs.
6: Third Party Recruitment
Recruiters and education consultants are paid a commission for students who choose to enroll in an institution. According to Noodle this is most common approach used for international student recruitment, but is also used in for-profit education.
3 Goals for Effective Lead Nurturing
Now that you have all these leads who do you do with them? In the article Lead Generation And Lead Nurturing 101 For Higher Ed Marketers the author advises higher ed enrollment managers to follow 3 lead nurturing goals:
- “Develop a closer relationship between prospective students and your college or university by communicating about topics of relevance to that individual.
- Qualify the prospects by tracking their interest in your institution and communications.
- Improve the efficiency of your admissions office.”
That means more outbound marketing to support the outreach efforts by admissions officers to prospective students and their families. And successful nurturing requires tailored, personalized content that will help guide students through their decision-making journey and the enrollment process.
A marketing channel that marries the best lead gen and nurturing methods
What if you could combine the best “lead generation” methods with a few new twists that improve the ability to attract the right students, gauge interest, and nurture effectively? College Interactive (Ci) offers a mobile marketing channel that combines the best lead generation and nurturing methods all in one solution.
With Ci, students register and build a self-contributed digital profile using a mobile app. They can explore and research every college in the US, quickly and effectively. Like digital ad platforms, personalized relevant content can be pushed to them based on their preferences and search behavior.
Ci also streamlines the inquiry process. Students don’t have to complete a form for every single college they contact via the app. A simple click allows a user to “raise their hand”, voluntarily share their detailed profile and express interest in the college. This generates a lead that unlike traditional methods is better qualified and can then be nurtured as part of the process. Like “matching sites” we can ask relevant questions along the way to better qualify candidates. This helps students identify (or not) with a particular college, build rich profiles, and allows students and colleges determine best fit before an application is even submitted.
Like other digital ad channels, Ci is cost effective. It can dramatically reduce the cost of the list purchase method employed most colleges, and the subsequent cost of nurturing a lead over traditional methods.
If you are looking for a student recruitment marketing channel that can reach candidates on their channel of choice (mobile apps), leverages the best lead gen and nurture strategies, and has compelling ROI advantages – check out College Interactive.