The Goal

Utilize paid advertising as well as robust but disconnected systems of client data to produce better application and enrollment results at a lower cost – and with a lower spend – than in previous years.


The Client

A 16-campus statewide community and technical college system, plus an overarching central Systems Office. The client operates on a hybrid marketing structure that blends centralized statewide campaigns with individual college and unit marketing needs. Every college works with individual marketing budgets each year (as well as their own marketing teams and goals), while a central Systems Office oversees and guides institutional strategy while incorporating its own budget for certain statewide marketing efforts.


The Challenge

To build out a digital marketing strategy and system that could incorporate the statewide needs of the institution along with market-specific initiatives and goals that treated each campus as an individual Statwax client. These challenges needed to be done while also incorporating new tracking and attribution and data visibility to help show the client the true financial impact being made – something that was not in place when Statwax came onboard.


The Strategy

Statwax first helped the client remake the tracking and attribution of its student journey. There was initially very limited visibility into how an RFI or applicant was arriving at a college website or how they were making their way into the CRM system. This led to a total disconnect between online and offline activities, student acquisition tactics, and more. 

Before any digital tactics began, the Statwax Data Operations and Innovation team created a custom CRM integration that tied the school’s website, Google Analytics, future marketing efforts, and the back-end CRM system together into a seamless tracking system. This included custom scripting on the website, rebuilds of the RFI and application fields, and the build-out of new data capture fields within the CRM itself. The addition of an internal tracking parameter system to utilize across all marketing efforts allowed the client to attribute individual inquiries, applicants, enrollments, and tuition revenue to specific marketing tactics and dollars spent.

Statwax also understood that marketing the colleges through ads was just the tip of the iceberg. With better attribution and reporting in place, the team turned attention to making sure page destinations were performing the best and producing the most efficient inquiries and applicants.

Statwax was tasked with building out landing pages specific to each college in the system. Custom RFI forms were coded out to interact with the tracking scripts already implemented by Statwax. This ensured that all hidden tracking parameters would be captured by the new lead forms and ported properly into the CRM system.

Once digital efforts went live, continuous analysis was done on the pages and forms that prospects were encountering in their journey. Even on the application itself, Statwax turned to tools such as user recording, heatmapping, and behavior analysis to identify informational pain points or potential friction in the prospect journey.

User recording helps identify the flow through key conversion actions on the site, informing new page designs and remarketing opportunities to address pain points that Statwax uncovers.

With landing pages then built in accordance with best UX design practices and lead capture forms optimized for minimal friction, a full-funnel ads strategy was ready to launch. Across paid search, paid social, display, streaming video, remarketing, and more, Statwax implemented and optimized touchpoints that covered the entire measured student journey. Robust tracking allowed Statwax to measure how each touchpoint eventually affected leads, applications, and enrollments. 

Because all marketing and student data was centralized and married together by Statwax, analysis could also be done according to financial metrics. Statwax measured the impact of ad elements down to a credit-hour-enrolled level. For the first time ever, the client could see the resulting tuition revenue and credit hours that came as a result of each ad click. And Statwax could optimize and recommend strategies based on the best ROI.

Ultimately, Statwax created data-tracking speed and precision that allowed decision-making to accelerate. Because of the new strategies and ROI conversations that were able to take place, more spend and effort could be confidently placed on individual tactics, knowing that they had a proven role in increasing enrollment. Statwax was able to dive into the specific needs of each audience or persona as well as each market, developing and deploying ad messaging and creative across a dozen different platforms at exactly the right times to ensure conversion success.


The Results

New tracking, attribution, and visibility into success gave new ways to take quick optimization action. Across multiple channels and initiatives for all colleges and programs, Statwax was able to test and incorporate new design elements, expand audiences, reallocate budgets, and make frequent search adjustments. 

The impact on performance was immediate. In the first six months, the system-wide cost-per-lead (inclusive of inquiries and applicants) improved by 62.56%. Every single individual college and program in the system saw an improvement in cost-per-lead and total lead volume from digital efforts in the first six months as compared to the same period of time prior to Statwax. In the client’s run up to the spring semester – it’s first under Statwax – ads delivered a 28% lift in leads for that semester over the previous year. In total, the first year under Statwax saw the institution make a system-wide return on investment of $6.15 in revenue for every dollar spent (including non-ad spend fees) and attributed more than 16,200 enrolled credit hours from more than 22,000 leads directly to Statwax ad efforts.


The Takeaway

Acquisition efforts in higher ed don’t need to be measured purely for lead volume. There is a financial component involved at your school, and seeing the true revenue that marketing supplies can be key to successfully scaling your tactics. It starts by getting a full, clean look at your marketing and school analytics and having confidence in how they tie together. With that system in place, you can start achieving more from all digital efforts, regardless of the spend levels.

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