How to Use the Enrollment Funnel to Evaluate Recruitment Strategies
After-action review, hot wash, postmortem—no matter which moniker admissions teams use, departments across the country will soon be sitting down to evaluate the success of their recruitment campaigns. Did the institution meet its enrollment goals, or did it fall short? Did new recruitment strategies bear fruit, or is it back to the drawing board? As admissions teams prepare to assess efforts, they should consider using the enrollment funnel as a means to evaluate campaign efficacy. By breaking down data from the top, middle, and bottom of the enrollment funnel, admissions teams can better identify which areas of their recruitment strategy are working and which might need fine-tuning.
Top of the Funnel: How Effective Were Your Marketing Campaigns?
Since most marketing and outreach efforts occur at the top of the enrollment funnel, evaluating success here can help institutions identify whether their marketing and outreach campaigns are working. Teams spend a great deal of time, energy, and capital on creative mailers, website design, and high school visits. To determine whether these efforts worked as intended, you will want to look at the data. How many students attended your booth at recruitment fairs? How much traffic did your admissions page receive? How did online ads perform?
Once you have this data, it’s important to break it down to not only discover if new tactics made a positive impact, but also to identify areas for improvement. If your recruitment numbers were below expectations, you’ll want to examine ways to improve marketing and outreach. Could you be more targeted in reaching out to different student demographics? How might you make your mailers stand out? What could you do to improve your online presence—your search engine optimization, social media posts, and other digital campaigns?
Middle of the Funnel: How Effective Were Your Communications?
If examining how many people made it from the top of your enrollment funnel to the middle can help you evaluate the efficacy of your marketing campaigns, examining the numbers between the middle and bottom of your enrollment funnel can help you evaluate your communications. How many students responded to outreach and filled out applications? How many called in seeking information or replied to email and/or text communication efforts? Comparing these figures to the number of communications sent can determine whether your efforts were successful.
If you struggled to meet your recruitment goals at this point in the enrollment funnel, consider what your team might do to make communications more effective. How might you create more targeted and personalized messaging? Are there ways for you to automate certain communications to create more touchpoints with students? How can you craft more effective communications around application deadlines?
Bottom of the Funnel: How Effective Was Your Financial Aid Delivery?
When admissions teams think about the bottom of the enrollment funnel, they’re often focusing on student visits, one-on-one meetings, or overnights—last-minute ways to convince accepted students to deposit and enroll. But a huge bottom-of-the-funnel factor not to be overlooked is financial aid. The type of aid a student receives can be one of the biggest deciding factors in their choice of college.
If your team met goals in the top and middle of your enrollment funnel, but didn’t meet your ultimate enrollment goals, you may want to take a closer look at how you deliver financial aid. Consider the speed at which you were able to deliver aid as well as the complexity of those offers you delivered—financial aid can be stressful for students if they’re given information they struggle to process. What can you do to speed up your financial aid packaging? How might you personalize offer letters to help students understand the aid they’re receiving? You might also want to make it easier for students to upload documents, accept offers, or file appeals.
How to Improve Processes During the Next Recruitment Cycle
Admissions teams across the country are struggling with staffing shortages, and those looking to work smarter—not harder—should consider two tactics: modernizing their student systems and investing in enrollment marketing services.
Modern student systems come complete with robust CRMs as well as advanced communications suites that can eliminate communications silos and automate messaging so teams can achieve more outreach with less effort. These systems also eliminate data silos, making it easier for admissions teams to gather and analyze data from their enrollment funnel. Meanwhile, enrollment marketing companies can help admissions teams improve their communications strategy, create content, design webpages and social posts, and even analyze complex data.
While modern technology and services can be a heavy investment for many smaller institutions, these investments tend to increase enough yield and tuition revenue to pay for themselves. As admissions teams sit down to evaluate recruitment efforts and create strategies for the next cycle, they should keep in mind the ways new solutions and services can help them improve outcomes at different stages of the enrollment funnel.
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