Reading ROI: Evaluating Recruitment Efforts

By Miranda Stephen — Thursday, April 25th, 2019 at 11:00am

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The arena of marketing in higher education has transformed itself drastically. The marketing landscape of higher education is far more competitive and PR-driven. There are more students applying to college than ever before, but there is an even greater amount of students who apply to an average of seven or more universities. The higher rate of applicants fails to translate as high admission rates as yield lower rates as students expand their options.

Universities and colleges spend a considerable amount of money each year on recruitment efforts to reach suitable prospective students. Considering the monetary value of recruitment campaigns, it is important education institutions yield positive results from these costly campaigns. As the landscape of higher education intensifies the competition, it is essential recruitment marketing methods are revised to credit high enrollment to campaigns and track ROI.

Money, Money, Money!

Despite the stereotypical notion that higher education institutions have limited budgets, 63% percent of institutions spent more than $100,000 and 31% spent over $200,000 on branding marketing efforts. Universities spend incredulous amounts of money attaining and retaining students by installing state-of-the-art amenities such as an on-campus ski resort, a water park with a lazy-river, and even bowling alleys! These unique luxurious amenities are a prominent figure in marketing campaigns and further add onto the surmounting cost of branding. Marketing has easily become one of the most expensive foundations for a higher education institution.

ROI Data and Personalization

The first step in reevaluating ROI is assessing the data it produces. Data yields results that possess the necessary steps required to attain the desired results. Data assists in tracking the progress of marketing campaigns. Most notably, the data visualizes where you are in the process and how to best move forward and yield greater results. Consolidating information to provide a bigger picture helps your marketers target trends and marketing patterns of higher education of which to pursue. By assessing the data stemming from previous marketing campaigns, analyze and critique the data to establish cost-effective marketing methods that produce ROI.

The second step in reevaluating ROI is to stop seeing the monetary value of campaigns and to take an in-depth look at the people. Social campaigns have a greater success rate as they generate community and conversation. Social ROI fails to be effectively measured if every single marketing method is one focused on money and numbers. Do not focus on one specific part of the ROI scope. Extensively look and see what personal and individual methods are being measured to effectively attain the attention of students. Monetary connections will be made, but an effort must be made to not stress on one aspect of a marketing campaign. Your ROI will transform as you pursue “human-centric” methods as opposed to “profit-centric”. For effective ROI, you may start out investing in social strategies that yield actionable numbers of which you may collect and react.

Web Marketing Strategies

College-bound students will first migrate to the web in pursuit of information about academic programs, student life, cost, and more. At this stage, website design is the first notable aspect prospective users will survey. It is crucial to be mindful of design characteristics that could help your website stand out among the masses. Xavier University stands out for its polished and simplistic approach to web design. The search box taking precedence on the first page allow prospective students the opportunity to filter what best fits their needs and interests.

The goal in website design is surface-level appeal that is aesthetically pleasing and modern. Websites that fail to polish their information can appear outdated and out-of-touch. Prospective students are not typically looking at one specific school–they keep their tabs, and options, open. With this in mind, a design style that is both coherent and unique will stand out amongst the masses.

When organizing your website, prioritize the information to highlight the needs of all prospective students. Your homepage may just be a portal, but it is the first visual prospective students see, so provide them interactive, instinctive, and aesthetically pleasing content.

Coupled with design, the organization of web content is rendered useless if it’s difficult to navigate. Creating a menu panel can be an effective way for users to navigate specific topics, departments, or questionnaires without having to click here, there, there, and there.

An aspect of navigation that is often overlooked is how it is viewed from a mobile device. While a website may be easy to navigate on a desktop, it could be messy and difficult on a mobile device. You may view whether your web-content is mobile accessible through a free Mobile-Friendly Tool developed by Google. To maintain navigable web content, the addition of accessibility features expands the audience of prospective students. Prospective students that require accessible technology will have the equal opportunity to be well-informed and access information to influence their choice of school. You may read further regarding accessibility features on Hannon Hill’s blog.

Social Media Marketing Strategies

Social media has revolutionized the manner in which colleges and universities attract prospective students beyond a college website. The 2017 Social Admissions Report detailed that 63 percent of students use social media in their pursuit of a college or university. The report further found that 60 percent of students “liked” or “followed” their prospective choices. The websites of colleges and universities act as a portal of information while social media is to be empowered to act as the digital introduction. Social media has been revolutionized as a formidable force that influences decision-making as it introduces students to personalized access to the campus and student life. The two most popular social media networks for college-bound students are Instagram and Snapchat.

Facebook offers a more reserved approach to social media as less young adults use it in contrast to their parents. Twitter, while fun and interactive, is restricted to 140 characters, with greater relevance in updating current students. Snapchat and Instagram are two platforms most effective in communicating with potential students at the interpersonal level. Through Snapchat, admissions and current students can apply a geofilter to their “snaps” and a prospective student may view the content within seconds of being posted. Snapchats provide students the opportunity a visualization of the real life at their college or university of choice. Duke University’s official Snapchat account is managed by a group of students where they post daily humorous updates on college life at Duke. The personal nature of the platform is a major influence for students in stages of decision-making. Instagram then provides the allure capable to entice students to visit or provide a virtual tour to students who wish to get a feel of campus from their digital devices.

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