When it comes to higher education leadership, measurable data is sometimes the law of the land—including when it comes to marketing expenditure decisions. According to a study from Thomson Reuters, the most-tracked metrics by college and university administrators have to do with faculty pay, school funding, overall rankings and research efforts. So how can a marketing team use desirable metrics to their advantage in creating an ROI worthy of the administration's blessing?
Here are four tips to get you started.
You know that a big part of your marketing efforts needs to be dedicated to general awareness and building brand. You also know that it can be incredibly difficult to depict how that measurably affects your institution's success. That's why your marketing efforts should include trackable efforts as well. You need to be able to see how a potential student recruit interacts with you brand from start to finish. Use this as an excuse to invest in a robust CRM that offers both you and admissions ample opportunity to bring a lead from vaguely interested to enrolled student.
One highly trackable metric that university leadership will likely want to emphasize in your marketing is research—from number of papers published to number of active projects to number of patents filed. While these might not always lend themselves to the flashiest of marketing (outside of the graduate school set), you can still tailor the messaging to work across demographics. If it's potential undergrads you're after, position them in the shoes of these researchers—perhaps literally. Give recruits the opportunity to see what an incredible experience your university would provide and the chance for each of them to become an "inventor." And point back to this when your enrollment numbers tick up as a result—use post-enrollment surveys to prove this.
When it comes to undergraduate recruitment, your audience is constantly changing. With your target market now solidly Generation Z, email marketing is likely one medium you're de-emphasizing. But the truth is, this generation still overwhelmingly prefers to receive communications from brands and businesses via email. According to NAPCO Research, 65 percent of Gen-Z consumers feel this way—more, in fact, than millennials, at 62 percent. This doesn't mean email is infallible, though. You still need to make your content incredibly useful, engaging, digestible and intuitive. Best of all? It's a seriously trackable medium for your leadership team. Employ intelligent automation that can anticipate each contact's needs.
One of the toughest things to prove to a college or university leadership team is how social media marketing is leading to direct financial gain. And since paid media efforts are so critical to your marketing spend, proving it was worth their budgetary while is key. Research group Synapse has developed several methods of determining a Facebook fan's "worth," for example—elements to consider include cost of acquisition, level of advocacy of the brand and loyalty to the brand. With platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn, where users commonly identify themselves by name, you can more easily trace back earlier brand interactions to later enrollment or application. The more you can match up successful results to level of engagement on social media, the more you can prove the ROI of your platforms of choice—every bit of nurturing contributes to the end success and determing the "value" of an engaged follower.