Less Leads, More Starts for Higher Education

Posted inCase Studies, Education, Marketing

The Challege

A nationally ranked university was experiencing enrollment declines based on breaks in their internal process and amplified external market forces.  With limited resources, they needed to create a focused marketing and sales strategy to put their programs on a positive enrollment trajectory.

The Solution

  • Establish accurate cost per enrollment to guide budget modeling and enrollment projections
  • Evaluate current sales funnel to identify breaks in process that are contributing to enrollment drop-off
  • Harness first party data across digital technologies to identify audiences and engagement patterns associated with students who have historically converted
  • Deploy and optimize digital media & content to drive engagement for prospects throughout the different stages of the marketing/sales funnel

AUDIENCE AND DEPLOYMENT
Based on first and third party data insights, we generated tailored personas and deployed digital media and content to drive engagement for prospects throughout the different stages of the sales funnel. Messaging and channels were adjusted throughout the year based on seasonality and enrollment trends. In addition, we utilized retargeting strategies to reach prospects who had already engaged with the university online and push them further down the applicant funnel.

BUDGETS AND MESSAGING
Leveraging the strong brand and reputation of the university, both local and national paid media messaging focused on the overall brand while remarketing campaign messaging focused on specific programs with which prospects had engaged. Budgets and messaging shifted throughout the year based on seasonality and application deadlines. 

OPTIMIZATION
Over time, campaigns were tailored based on which messaging and personas were garnering the most engagement. Additionally, as we gathered more data on a program-specific level, we prioritized audiences associated with specific programs that engaged with paid media at a higher rate and yielded a higher profit margin.

IDENTIFY AUDIENCES
By appending records of past enrolled students we were able to identify primary and secondary audiences to help focus our targeting both locally and nationally.

  • Primary Audience – Elite Households
  • Secondary Audience – Young Singles, Starting Careers
  • Tertiary Audience – Young + Middle Aged, Living Active Lifestyles in Metro Areas

DATA DRIVEN DEPLOYMENT
Targeted identified audiences utilizing a multi-channel deployment strategy that moved users through the various stages of the marketing funnel.

  • Thought Leadership – Podcasting, Native Content, Organic Social
  • Brand Awareness & Prospecting – YouTube Pre-Roll, Paid Search, Paid Facebook, Display, SEO
  • Retargeting – Display, Paid Social Media

USER JOURNEYS
Analyzed user journeys of various segments of students to understand the differences between those who were dropping off at various stages of the funnel as well as audiences and programs within the enrolled student population. This helped guide messaging at various stages of the funnel and UX updates to their main website to shorten time from initial engagement to application completion.

  • Sample Size – 97
  • Average Before They Started Their Application – 132 Days
  • Average Number of Sessions – 6
  • Average Number of Pages Per Session – 6

CHANNEL MIX
Analyzed referral sources of various segments of students to help understand the differences in how they engage with various platforms. Over time we tailored paid media deployment based on audience and program, driving down costs and increasing conversion.

The Results

Within one enrollment cycle, our client was able to achieve a 57% increase in enrollments, a 23% decrease in cost per enrollment, and a 10% increase in application to enrollment conversion rate. By identifying breaks in their internal sales process, we were able to implement changes to better nurture leads and increase down-funnel conversion rates. Lastly, we were able to establish an accurate cost per enrollment to help with forecasting and budgeting for future enrollment cycles.

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