January 24, 2020

3 Ways to Use Yield Rates to Improve Your Digital Strategy

We have already shown how a digital student acquisition strategy can be used to improve yield rates. Your school’s yield rate, and your yield rate goals, can also be used to influence how you run your digital marketing strategy. The flow of information both ways can help improve not only prospect acquisition but also enrollment goals in the long-run. Check out three ways you can use your yield rate data to improve your digital strategy.

Incorporate yield data into digital campaign build-outs and optimizations

Too often in higher ed marketing, the ads team is operating on metrics that don’t incorporate yield. Many less-advanced campaigns for student acquisition are still stuck targeting lead volume alone. But even digital strategies optimized to generate actual students are missing a piece if yield rates aren’t shared. 

Optimizing ad elements, such as keyword bids or audiences, based on the path of applicants to enrolled students is a good start. This approach however completely cuts acceptance and yield out of the equation. The ads can still optimize to deliver more total students, but the data won’t be there to evaluate. You won’t be able to determine whether certain campaigns tend to over-deliver applicants who are less likely to enroll post-acceptance. 

Your student acquisition may still be strong if digital tactics are focused on producing the right applicants. Holding yield out of the equation, however, means that the student acquisition strategy is operating on thin ice. The moment that yield becomes a big enough problem to miss expectations, that student acquisition strategy won’t be able to catch up. You might find your school missing enrollment and/or marketing goals. Instead, share acceptance and yield information with the marketing team upfront. That way they can focus on student volume, but also work in a more granular analysis. This will show where budgets are being inefficiently used and delivering acceptances that end up going elsewhere.

Track acceptances and enrollments in your CRM and ad platforms

Let’s say you’re targeting a competitor’s brand name on paid search. All the data suggests that it’s generating cost-efficient applicants, which are turning into students at a decent rate. Then you discover that for every student your campaign generates, it’s leading to four other acceptances that go elsewhere. This can kill your yield. Is the money for that one actual student really best spent there, or on another campaign generating more students at a better yield and with room to grow?

Keeping acceptances and yield as milestones and metrics in your CRM is key. This tracking allows the ads platforms to see the true story, and for your marketing team to react accordingly. Just like you wouldn’t keep paying for a keyword generating 1,000 applicants but only one student, you also don’t want to throw your marketing budget at something that will sink your yield.

Use acceptance and enrollment data to create personas

It’s no secret that the student data in your CRM is as good as gold when it comes to honing a marketing strategy. Turning to actual customer or student data to inform how to get more of those ideal (ie: enrolled) students is the key to a scalable acquisition campaign. 

If you’re experiencing lower yields than anticipated, consider segmenting your CRM audiences and doing some comparative analysis. Put together data-driven personas based on your most recent enrollments – those who were accepted and actually came to school during the most recent cohorts. Do the same for all the acceptances that did not, and therefore drove your yield down.

If you can find the behavioral, demographic, and data patterns that separate the two audiences, you can better hone your enrollment marketing to focus more on the positive outcome. Perhaps a certain demographic, location or other data signal indicates a likelihood to go elsewhere after being accepted. You can turn to your digital platforms and implement exclusions, bid adjustments, or new audiences to avoid reaching more people like that.

Improving yield rates and optimizing marketing go hand-in-hand. Do you find your school struggling with either side when it comes to enrollment time? Let’s talk.

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