Elliance, a higher education enrollment marketing agency, has built a reputation by both increasing and significantly growing graduate student enrollment for more than 50 colleges and universities. Following are some of the most successful strategies that our university clients have activated to unleash enrollment growth in the past two decades:
1. Invest in branding. In the sea of sameness, brands win. When the University of Delaware College of Business and Economics wished to create a rising tide for its vast portfolio of graduate business programs, Elliance crafted and paid off their new brand line “Opportunity, Inc.” It worked attracting students from across the nation and across the globe.
2. Bake research about student behavior and what they value into website, microsite snd landing pages. When we reflected GMAC research findings into Carnegie Mellon’s MS in information systems management program microsite, its applications grew by 118 percent within one year.
3. Tell a better story. Romance prospects and show that the value of the degree exceeds its cost. Carnegie Mellon MSE degree was ranked on Google page one for every conceivable keyword, but its enrollment was anemic. With a photoshoot of rock star students, and new copy that emphasized value of the degree, the enrollment took off without additional marketing.
4. Fish where the fish are. Since digital now leads traditional media, promote your program on digital channels like web, Google, social and Wikipedia. When we helped William Woods transition its marketing budget from all traditional to primarily digital, its graduate enrollment grew by 25 percent and online enrollment doubled in just two years.
5. Pursue right-fit. Hunt like sharks and don’t feed like whales. Create personas with their unique motivations, be it career development, salary bump or living more meaningful lives. Increase your presence across their unique student journeys. We helped Carlow University achieve the highest enrollment in a decade by creating marketing that resonated with their right-fit students.
6. Persuade influencers. It is well known that the recommendations of bosses carry an extraordinary weight in the enrollment decisions of their followers. When William Woods graduate educational program leaders fostered conversations with their 600+ alumni principals, school superintendents and education district leaders, the teachers signed up in droves for their MEd and EdD degrees.
7. Dominate Google page one because if your program can’t be found, it can’t be in the considered set. Tune social to amplify storytelling. This is the secret of success of each and every one of our clients. For example, Pepperdine graduate business programs grew dramatically and Carnegie Mellon MSPM enrollment grew 12X in 4 years.
8. Optimize follow up strategies. Unlike undergraduate programs, graduate students expect the program directors and faculty to reach out and discuss the passion of students for the program.
9. A/B test your way to success. Effective A/B testing lets you quickly determine the difference between winning and losing messages, ad channels and geographies. Armed with these insights, we encourage our client to feed the winners and starve the losers. For Manchester Business School, we targeted 20 cities and rapid A/B testing revealed that only 3 were converting. We pulled the budgets from the 17 non-performing cities and applied that to the 3 top converting cities. Their inquiries and applications grew rapidly.
10. Simplify application, acceptance and financial assistance forms and processes. Your processes should not be an obstacle course. We’ve helped streamline processes for each and every one of our clients improving their applications yield and reducing their melt.
11. Engage alumni by featuring them and telling their stories of achievements. It will inspire confidence in prospective students. We routinely do this for every client. Prospective students connect with the alumni seeking their counsel and advice on whether they should enroll. We use this heuristic for all our higher education clients.
12. Forge partnerships with employers because they are not only harvesting grounds for new students, but also for projects and research initiatives. When we created corporate relations microsites and brochures for several Carnegie Mellon masters programs, they were handsomely rewarded with increased corporate engagement and sponsorships.
13. Cultivate feeders like undergrad programs and employers. When we encouraged a number of program chairs to cement ties with various national and international undergrad programs and HR/training manager at corporations, their enrollment grew dramatically.
14. Offer new flavored, distinct degrees instead of creating new commodity, me-too programs. Distinct degrees always sell better. When Duquesne University launched its MBA in Sustainability, it gave us the fertile soil to secure dominant positions on Google page one. Enrollment grew 3X and application selectivity dropped from 90% to 10%.