If you’re in charge of higher education admissions, you’ve likely struggled to hit your enrollment goals this year. And that’s the norm. The 2018 Survey of College and University Admissions Directors found that 63% of public and 50% of private bachelors programs were unable to meet their enrollment goals by June 1st of 2018. Reasons for this predicament range from shrinking college age populations and a growing fear of student debt to oversaturation of the market and students applying to more schools.
Higher education institutions can effectively overcome these challenges by focusing on greater retention of students through all stages of the admissions lifecycle:
By analyzing all the touch points between your admissions department and prospective students, you can identify your enrollment strategy’s shortcomings and opportunities . The following data points can reveal your effectiveness and identify which campaigns will help you achieve enrollment goals.
Website Traffic to Key Pages
This is a well-known but reliable metric. Web traffic is an early and effective indicator of the success of your marketing campaigns. Though quantity doesn’t surpass quality, high volume traffic to key landing or conversion pages (apply, schedule a visit, request info, etc.) show whether marketing campaigns are effective, not just flashy.
However, we need to dig into the data of those sessions. Are visitors coming from your target regions? How long do users remain on the page? Is there a high bounce rate? Do users fulfill your call to action? The ability to visualize all of those data points in relation to web traffic provides a more comprehensive understanding of marketing ROI and messaging success.
Number of Inquiries
Inquiries are a prospect’s first concrete stage of the funnel. They indicate not only your ability to generate interest, but to build relationships with prospects and reach students when they’re ready to act. When visualized alongside other data points, some clear insights can be recognized.
Start by looking at the following data: Which campaigns are resulting in inquiries? How does your reputation and word of mouth influence inquiry volume? Which inquiries result in completed enrollment and what do those prospects have in common?
Reviewing all of these metrics will reveal the degree to which your enrollment management strategies set you up for success further down the funnel.
Application Completion Rate
This KPI is an effective way to determine the user friendliness of your application process. If a large number of prospects reach the applications page but few complete it, you’ve identified a key source of attrition.
Are students leaving early in the process? Your application might not load properly. Are they leaving late in the process? It might be too long. Are they dropping off before attaching relevant files? Your attachment feature might be faulty. Looking at the realities behind this metric can help you eliminate significant barriers to your enrollment goal.
Though some marketers are shifting away from demographics to behavioral targeting, the enrollment funnel should still maintain demographic awareness. College enrollment is predicted to decline 15% by 2025 thanks to a decrease in the population of traditional college-age students. Higher education institutions will need to target more nontraditional students to maintain enrollment numbers.
Which groups respond best to email or traditional mailers? Which groups are completing the most applications? Which groups are more likely to drop out of the process? Which groups follow through to the end and enroll in classes? Visualizing how these data points correspond can help you identify which marketing campaigns are the most effective and which groups require more active engagement throughout the process to lead them to final enrollment.
We know that a student accepting an offer isn’t enough. Tracking your enrollment churn from the beginning of admissions through the start of classes helps to understand the effectiveness of your engagement strategies.
When are students dropping out in the process? Are they leaving after being admitted or after making a deposit? How close to the start of classes are they leaving? Are there campaigns that are reducing attrition? All of these data points together provide greater insight into your enrollment strategies.
Working to understand this data can help you recognize trends that result in greater falloff and allow you to rectify those issues. It can let you know if you need to personalize your interactions further or get ahead of negative press on social media to prevent a domino effect across current applicants.
Average Class Size
At the end of the day, your class size is one of the final signs you’ve been successful in bringing prospects through the process. It’s a straightforward metric but can help you comprehend which campaigns pushed students across the finish line.
Did texts reminding students about important deadlines have an impact? Was it personalized assistance from an admissions counselor? Did bridge programs help students to complete their enrollment journey? Analyzing all of these metrics together can help to reveal strengths and weaknesses within your process, solidifying your strategy against changing enrollment conditions.
Conclusion: It All Starts with Data Strategy
Tracking, analyzing, and taking action on these metrics can help you to improve metrics throughout the funnel. Without the right data management strategy and analytics tools in place however, you might find yourself unable to find the insights you need.
Aptitive has helped higher education institutions to develop and implement data strategies that enable them to quickly gather and analyze the data they need. Are you ready to improve your insights through data and analytics? Schedule a Higher Education Data Strategy Session to learn how your current data can help you reach your enrollment goals.
Ashley Pradhan is a Data & Technology Consulting Manager at Aptitive. In her role, Ashley helps clients to find valuable insights through the entire data management lifecycle including, strategy, design, architecture, ETL, custom development, business intelligence, reporting, analytics, and visualizations.