Scaling digital to reach enrollment targets
Overcome institution-wide enrollment gaps by strategically expanding digital campaigns
Indiana’s largest postsecondary institution, boasting over 40 community college locations and serving nearly 200,000 students annually.
The community college was struggling to hit their institution-wide enrollment goal for their upcoming start date. Because they were hitting their established digital benchmarks for application volume and cost, they weren’t sure there was anything else it could do to help them reach their goals. But we were confident their digital strategy was built to scale, and to drive actual students, so the teams sat down to collaborate.
Collaborative talks began for scaling enrollment with only two months to make an impact. Expectations at the college were that the goal was beyond reach, but Statwax saw opportunities in new digital campaigns and untested tactics. So, our first step was to sit down with the school’s team and brainstorm initiatives, bringing with us the ad and higher ed measurement forecasts for each potential ad resource.
To help make the case for spending on the new campaigns, we followed our meetings up with a detailed strategy deck, so the school would know exactly where every promotional penny was going and what they would get out of it – in a format that their entire marketing team would find easy to understand.
With everyone on the same page, and our previous attribution models in place for true application and enrollment measurement, we set out to create the campaigns. We started by ensuring ad messaging heavily emphasized the upcoming start date, with each ad type working together to drive prospective students closer to enrollment. That effort was then applied to new campaigns including: video ads, display remarketing, broadened search terms, and new highly targeted audiences that were previously untapped by digital efforts.
To further engage those most likely to enroll, we honed in on prospective students by geo-targeting specific regional schools and employment centers. Targeting schools built awareness among students who were still considering their higher ed options. And targeting employment and staffing centers enabled us to introduce “Next Level Jobs” – an initiative the college is undertaking with the state of Indiana to offer grants to adults to return to school. Tapping into this adult audience and honing in on the underemployed, or those unaware they may receive support in returning to school, opened up a brand new group of prospects for the college and spoke directly to their needs.
Higher education marketers often feel like their digital marketing efforts are maxed out and are still failing to hit target enrollment goals, and that increasing spend or reach will simply waste their marketing dollars.
But we have found, time and again, that through collaborative brainstorming, revisiting campaign messaging, and exploring new audience segments, most digital programs can scale up to hit enrollment numbers without sacrificing your cost per application or start goals.
Sometimes all it takes is a new perspective. If you’re interested in hearing ours, let’s start a conversation.