Webinar – Building Student Profiles: 3 Steps to Meeting The Demands Of Today’s Students

I’ve been presenting on the topic of student profiles at several education industry events, including the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC) 2010 Annual Conference, as well as the New York Association of Proprietary Colleges (APC) Annual Conference. The audiences have shown quite a bit of interest in the topic, as has the trade press. It occurred to me that a number of our blog readers may be interested in the topic, therefore, I’m hosting a webinar next week.

The purpose of the webinar is to help schools embrace the power of student profiles in order to drive increased recruitment and retention. “The Increasing Power of the Student Consumer: Building Student Profiles to Meet The Demands Of Today’s Students” will be held on Thursday, September 23, 2010 from 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

Colleges are continually evaluating efforts to: recruit the types of students who will be most successful in a program, quickly launch new programs, and tailor offerings and delivery modes. How can colleges successfully meet these challenges in order to attract and retain students in an increasingly consumer-driven market?

I’ll share three critical ways that colleges can best leverage information to meet the demands of today’s students:

1) Deliver education where and when students want it.
2) Monitor student inflection points.
3) Report on student activity from prospect to placement in order to support decisions.

Attendees will gain insight into the process of not only building student profiles, but also effectively using them. Profiles help schools better understand students so you can target the right students for the right programs, as well as support them throughout the education process, making sure that someone who is likely to succeed actually does.

To register for the free event, click here. Feel free to download the corresponding whitepaper and eBook as well.

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Student Profiles: Part I

Student profiles continue to come up in my daily conversations with college administrators. There seems to be such a huge opportunity here – it is just a matter of a school wrapping its arms around the data they have and embracing the concept of student profiles as a powerful tool to better understand and support their students.

Student profiles enable your college to better determine the programs, delivery models and educational structure that will attract and retain students. Today, I’d like to address student profiles from a college prospecting and marketing perspective.

Colleges and universities are in a sea of noise – in order to increase student enrollment, they need to find a way to stand out in the crowd, and also make sure they are targeting
the right students for the right programs.

Traditionally, colleges and universities address student recruitment by increasing marketing efforts – utilizing additional marketing channels, allocating additional budget for traditional and social media, and more. However, additional outreach doesn’t always equate to more leads. Rather, colleges need to know more about the students they are targeting.

When building successful student profiles, you should look at the available demographic, behavioristic/psychographic, and educational information on a student prospect. You then need to assign a risk factor to each characteristic. For example, a prospect with established career goals would most likely pose a “low” risk, yet that same prospect could be transitional and not stay in one place for long periods of time, posing a “high” risk. You’ll want to establish an average overall risk level based on a comprehensive list of his or her characteristics.

Next, you should assign a complete profile to a student prospect and determine whether to actively pursue that person as a prospective student, and if so, develop action plans as necessary. For example, if a prospect has an overall risk factor rating of “high” due to the fact that he or she is a single parent who is working part time, your action plan can address child care.

Student profiles help colleges better target students who will likely succeed in your programs. But they serve another purpose beyond getting students in the door. Student profiles can drive retention too, so you can make sure that someone who is likely to succeed actually does. I plan to talk about student profiles from a retention perspective in my next blog…so stay tuned.

In the meantime, feel free to check out my eBook, “How to Make Informed Decisions Based on Successful Student Profiles: Seven Steps to Increase Recruitment and Retention.”

I will also be hosting a webinar to discuss Student Profiles in depth on September 23rd. If you are interested, you can click here to register.

Lead Management for Targeted Marketing in Higher Education

Targeting the right prospective student, getting that student enrolled, and seeing that student through to graduation is the lifeblood of your educational system. However, that initial step might not ever take place with dirty data, meaning data that is incomplete, outdated, or just plain inaccurate.

I recently had the opportunity to talk with numerous educators at the Career College Association annual convention in Las Vegas, and it was amazing to hear how some schools make lead management a priority, and others simply didn’t have the resources to do so.

Schools need to be proactive when it comes to maintaining lead data, and they should be asking themselves the following questions:

    •  Increased operational efficiencies, allowing admissions staff to focus on high quality leads and not data management
    •  Targeted marketing programs resulting in accurate, measurable results
    •  Higher enrollment and retention rates, driving a stronger bottom line
    •  Happy, well placed students
    1.  How fast are prospective students changing contact and biographical information?
    2.  How often should you realistically update prospective student information?
    3.  At what point do you recognize prospective student data as expired, and purge it?
    Data management is  crucial and can determine how your school fares in meeting or exceeding your recruitment and enrollment goals. More efficient lead management hinges upon the quality of your data – data that has been verified as complete, current and accurate.Schools that take steps to more efficiently manage data will be able to attract the right type of student, enroll that student, and see that student through to graduation. They should achieve the following:To read more about lead management and ten tips for keeping up with data so you make sure you are using the highest quality information in your recruitment and enrollment efforts, please download a copy of my white paper, More Effective Lead Management for Targeted Marketing in Higher Education.

Webinar Re-cap: Fight for Your Budget: How to Track and Justify Your Admissions Marketing Efforts

TopSchool co-hosted our first webinar this week with MyUsearch.com: Fight for Your Budget: How to Track and Justify Your Admissions Marketing Efforts.

Derek Kraus, the former director of operations for Westwood College and Justin Sloan, the former senior director of admissions for the College of Wooster, both of TopSchool, were our presenters.

If you weren’t able to attend, a copy of the presentation can be found here.

In short, here are seven easy steps to track and analyze your admissions marketing efforts so you can fight for and secure the appropriate budget:

  1. Identify your student profile: Know who your students are. Brainstorm with groups to provide one word adjectives that describe your students. Be clear in describing your students and displaying your knowledge of your campus.
  2. Determine costs (CPL, CPA, CPS): Know what all of your expenses are within each measuring category of CPL (Cost per Lead), CPA (Cost per Application) and CPS (Cost per Start).
  3. Set metric goals: Set your goals for each metric identified, plus you may have additional ones, such as the number of student leads you will need each week or month, to help reach your enrollment goals.
  4. Find your students: Which websites do your students visit? Which vendors can help you find your student profile? Identify these websites and vendors and have a clear plan of how you’re going to work with them.
  5. Diversify your vendor list: Always diversify the list of vendors you utilize. This will help you  not only access a broader prospective student base, but also diversify the resulting student population.
  6. Create data tracking: Make sure you have the right tools in place for tracking all the necessary information such as the number of student leads, applications, starts and all related costs.
  7. Standardize measurements and reports: Lastly, standardize all of your measurements and reports. Consistency allows for greater understanding and transparency of what’s going on in your processes and the ability to clearly and easily indicate how your changes are effectively improving costs, revenue, employee morale and the overall experience of your students.

Following these seven steps will lead you to increased enrollment and operational efficiencies.

Are you already addressing each of these steps in your admissions process?

Fight for Your Budget: How to Track and Justify Your Admissions Marketing Efforts

From what I’ve witnessed during the progression of career colleges over the last decade, never have they been more important in providing access to quality higher education as evident by current sky rocketing enrollments.  At the same time, competition among career colleges to attract and retain these students is fierce.  Career colleges are facing challenges when it comes to dedicating money and resources to their admissions marketing initiatives in order to increase efficiencies and improve conversions.  Yet, more than ever, they need to continue to drive even higher, and more importantly, the right kind of enrollments. 

I see these trends taking shape at career colleges around the country – and consequently, they are at the core of our upcoming webinar hosted by Derek Kraus and Justin Sloan, both whom have been on the front lines of career college admissions.  They will tackle the challenges career colleges face in tracking admissions marketing efforts and measuring performance in order to justify budgets and produce better results. 

Derek and Justin are ready to dig in and give participants the tools and information necessary to defend and maximize shrinking budgets.   They’ll cover everything from calculating the true cost of your admissions tactics to using tracking systems effectively,  achieving buy-in from your admissions staff, and finally, securing upper management support.  

Fight for Your Budget: How to Track and Justify Your Admissions Marketing Efforts

Date: Tuesday, April 6th, 2010
Time: 3:00 pm Eastern Standard Time
Fee: FREE

Register Now

I hope you will be able to join us.  In the interim, I would like to hear your thoughts and marketing admissions success stories. How are you measuring performance and aligning it with your admissions budgets?

Insights from the CAPPS Conference

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the CAPPS (California Association of Private Post Secondary Schools) Conference in Los Angeles this week.  This year the conference had a record number of attendees for various reasons.  One of the primary reasons was that many of the Private Post Secondary schools were looking for answers on how the recently passed California Private Postsecondary Education Act of 2009 would affect them.  A summary of this bill and details of the act can be found at the following link:  http://www.aroundthecapitol.com/Bills/AB_48.

Of the many interesting sessions being conducted at the conference I was able to sit in on the Internet Leads Panel discussion.  This discussion offered best practices from experts on ways to create more effective internet lead acquisition strategies and how to best convert those leads.  The session included guidance from Fred Carini, an industry veteran and  well regarded Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Milan Institute which operates 16 schools in four states, Craig O’Neil who is VP of Product Management of one of the nation’s largest wholesale lead generators and TopSchool’s very own Justin McMorrow, SVP of Sales and Marketing.

The panelists discussed how the use of Internet leads providers and aggregators can be an extremely effective mechanism for increasing starts.  For some higher education institutions,  over 70% of starts can be attributed to internet leads.  In summary, the key takeaways from the session from the three different perspectives were as follows:

  • From the School’s Perspective
    • Make sure Admissions Staff are trained and have the right tools to follow up with Internet leads
    • Share all of the lead information success/failure rates frequently with your lead providers to give them insight into which leads are converting and which ones are not
    • Immediacy – Admissions staff must follow up with leads quickly and effectively, especially given the nature of how internet leads are generated
  • Lead Provider’s Perspective
    • Schools must understand the different channels of internet leads, such as:
      • Web searches, email campaigns, social networking, call center, banner ads, hosted affiliate websites and institutional website
    • Schools must clearly understand how each of these different channels behave and have realistic expectations on how lead performance varies based on channel
    • Importance of providing transparency to the school by providing metrics to the schools on campaign, lead source and channel
  • Educating the schools on the inherent issues associated with working with internet leads
    • Web Amnesia – when students forgot that they submitted an inquiry form or opted in
    • Duplicate Lead information
    • Offered Incentives (ipods, electronics, etc) which create interest, for the  wrong product/brand
    • Shared Marketing data – the case where a student opts in to receive marketing information for multiple sectors not just higher education
    • Promise of Scholarships or Financial Assistance – another form of incentivizing prospective students which is very deceiving but does happen
  • From the Student Lifecycle Management System Perspective
    • Speed to first touch is important (Immediacy)
    • Ensure lead distribution rules are mapped effectively during business and off hours to ensure complete coverage
    • Establish business processes to support technology and ensure proper training and understanding around that process

The feedback from other attendees was very positive and the session overall was very informative.  Everyone appreciated the opportunity to gain insights from three different perspectives of working with internet leads – not just from the school’s vantage point.

 It is clear that the challenges of working with internet leads are multi-faceted and can be extremely complicated but employing the key strategies mentioned above can be effective in increasing the conversion of these leads.

 What measures have you employed to help increase lead effectiveness at your institution when working with internet leads?  How do you track internet leads that actually heard about your brand via word of mouth, t.v., radio or billboard ads?