Enrollment Marketing for Test Optional Colleges

Inverted Admissions Funnel

At last count, more than 1,100 colleges have gone test optional. This translates to fewer names that ACT can sell to colleges for marketing.

As Included below are 12 proven strategies for increasing enrollment in your your college if you can’t rely on buying names of prospective students:

1. Abandon traditional student search models. Hunt like sharks. Don’t feed like whales.
The era of buying prospects names, spamming them, seeing who sticks, and praying some convert is over. Embrace new methodologies based on right-fit, micro-segments, look-alikes, machine learning, big-data algorithms and affinity groups. Think right-fit, admission pipes and inverted admissions funnels, not traditional admissions funnels.

Inverted Admissions Funnel

2. Energize influencers, referral networks and reliable feeders.
Wholesale student streams provide a solid foundation upon which you build retail recruitment.

3. Befriend corporate and government HR & Training leaders.
Many corporations and government organizations use provision of advanced degrees as a retention tool. It behooves the enrollment officers to be the provider of choice for these organizations.

4. Avoid democratic budget allocation.
Lead with strengths. Bet on program champions and star programs. Let the star programs create prosperity to sustain others. Allocate pilot budgets for new approaches and tactics.

5. Think student life cycle.
From prospect to current students to alumni and donors. Take the long view. Insist on providing robust academic support, career guidance and campus experiences to your students. Graduate brand ambassadors that generate referrals and donate their time, treasure and talent to the institution.

6. Insist on offering a distinctive portfolio of programs.
Foster creation of new programs where you have indisputable competitive advantage. Fight the temptation to start new me-too programs. No one has realized prosperity with boring me-too offerings.

7. Deploy a unique game plan for every stage of the admissions funnel.
Know what prospects and influencers need at every stage of the admissions funnel, and cater to their needs. Pay as much attention to the follow-up and yield communications as you do to the lead-generation and lead-nurturing communications.

8. Augment integrated marketing with timely follow up, and boots-on-the-ground activities.
This trifecta is the holy grail of higher education enrollment and marketing. You take one out, and success will elude you. Don’t let automation get in the way of personalized and timely follow-up. There are no short-cuts for old-fashioned, belly-to-belly relationship building.

9. Combine data, intuition. and courageous action.
Embrace data-informed decision making. Measure what matters, watch what you see, see the unseen — but also trust your instinct and gut. Take bold action once you gather the insights from your data.

10. Leverage tools, technologies, process and imagination.
Adopt CRM and marketing automation, but not to replace the essential relationship building work that needs to be done to win hearts and minds of prospects. Imagination, passion and purpose — not process — is what prospects ultimately buy and are buying into.

11. Know industry benchmarks, but don’t benchmark.
Forge your own path. Perform better than how you did last year. Measure what matters to you, not to others. Keep an eye out on your student quality, melt rates, graduation rates, placement rates, and alumni giving rates.

12. Balance profit and purpose.
No money, no mission. No mission, no soul. You need both to survive and thrive.

If you are seeking enrollment marketing agency to fortify the reputation of your college or university, view our higher education marketing capabilities and consider partnering with us.