Predicting fall enrollment numbers isn’t about a gut-feeling. It’s about statistics. Too often, leads are measured on the x-axis or in a single box of a weekly excel sheet. Inquiries up from last year? Enrollment looks great, right? Take a look at the following graphs showing a rising number of inquires year over year, but a decrease in enrolled students during the same timeframe. The numbers are made-up but the situation is common.
Risk of name-buys without measurement.
You’ll notice as inquiries increase year over year, enrollment decreases. As marketing and recruitment offices focus energy toward capital intensive, low yield inquiry sources, the yield from applicant to enrolled students is surprisingly low. Inquiries, for example, submitted through the college website should be treated much differently than a name-buy.
Travel season is considered a right of passage among admission’s directors. The bi-annual ritual of roller bags, rental cars and travel points award the travel-seasoned professional their admission’s stripes. These are important positions, and college fairs are a viable lead-source for some colleges. But could the resources tied up in recruitment travel be allocated differently? What determines a successful college fair or recruitment trip?
Admission Counselors: The New Role
In the business world of enterprise sales, there are positions known as sales development reps, or SDRs. An SDR’s primary role is qualifying leads for the professional product coaches and closers: the ones that make the final sale. Sales development reps don’t focus on closing, they make the important decision: which prospects deserve a call from the president of the company, or a lifetime of automated emails. Implementing an SDR strategy resulted in huge growth for Salesforce.com and HubSpot.
Although you won’t find the term “sales” in many job descriptions for admission counseling, there’s a lot to be learned from the private sector on this one. The practice is being adopted by most successful high growth companies, specifically as the shift for information seeking turns digital.
Spend time on what matters. Track everything. GeoFli cares about what can be measured. A couple quick formulas (SUMIF, COUNTIF) can really illuminate the enrollment picture.
Run a report showing out-of-state enrolled students through the last five years. You’ll likely name your top three, but what about four and five? Any surprises? Arming an SDR with this information will set them up to succeed. Set measurable goals and track progress weekly.
Notice the empty spaces below work-study. In most universities, there doesn’t exist an equivalent VP of sales, lead acquisition specialist or digital media director. Who on your team is held accountable for the applicant to enrolled yield increase or decrease?
The chart above shows six positions found in admission’s offices across the country compared next to similar positions in medium to large companies in the private sector. The difference? In the private sector, the focus on nurturing the lead is much higher. The sales funnel doesn’t stop at awareness. The sales cycle is personalized.
Sales Development Rep Versus Student Call Center: It’s all in the training. Is there a way to flag top recruits in the inquiry pool and hand-them off to admission’s counselors. As your enrollment deadline approaches, focusing on top-inquiries that have not applied as opposed to blanketing your prospect pool will prove to be a fruitful strategy.
Field Sales Associate Versus Road Warrior: In the world of colleges and universities, staff and administration embody the cliche of wearing many hats. Admission counseling is no exception, however, the percentage of time spent on the road for high school visits and college fairs can be polarizing.
“Are there ways to train the traditional road-warrior in Google Analytics?”
What about simple video and content marketing development? In 2015, a single post on Instagram will likely have more impressions ages 13-18 than any college-fair table banner. Combine the two sales channels and announce college fair attendance. Use Facebook targeting to post updates geographically.
You’ll also notice there are positions below that exist in medium-sized companies that don’t yet exist in higher education.
Digital Media Director: Not to be confused with a social media director. This person might have a Periscope account to see if it’s something to explore. This person may field questions about “growing an audience on Facebook.” A digital media director in admissions helps to merge what’s happening online with the efforts both on and off campus. Skilled in Google Analytics, CRM filters and up-to-date marketing information, this individual might measure the website traffic after large email communication messages are sent.
Segmenting email messages based on web-page activity is possible. Automating an inquiry ranking system is possible. Changing website content based on visitor location is possible. Add someone on your team that can help make this possible in your office.
A Chief Revenue Officer is someone that works tirelessly to predict success. At HubSpot, Mark Roberge wrote the book on predicting sales success and implementing a formula. I could try to explain, but it’s better to watch the video. Think about this material through then lens of the admission’s funnel.
This recruitment season, don’t celebrate soft leads. Focus on your website visitors. How can you improve the goal conversion rates for your leads. The hard work happens at the applicant phase. As Mark Roberge mentions, developing a model doesn’t take long. It just needs to happen. Then it’s about testing, measuring and executing.