In what he describes as a significant “cultural change,” Jason Smith, Managing Director and Founder of Boston-based digital strategy agency OHO Interactive, proposes rethinking the relationship between marketing and Admissions to increase enrollments. In “Aligning Marketing and Admissions to Drive College Enrollment,” Smith takes a close look at the “traditional” recruitment process and finds it wanting when it comes to real engagement with prospective students. “Sure, prospects can find student life and program information on school websites and complete an online “inquiry” form or sign up to receive email rather than snail mail, but the process of engagement remains very similar to the process before the internet existed: personal interactions, campus tours, snail mail, and a slow response cycle.” The answer says Smith, is simple - go completely “digital.” With school websites firmly established as the go-to resource for students and families when researching schools, the logical next step is to leverage all website interactions and social media channels to encourage further engagement that is easily monitored and measured. “A full embrace of digital can change the admissions process by allowing for more visibility into the funnel and more informed investments of time and money.”
Smith’s reinvention or reimagining of the admissions process brings admissions, marketing and IT together to produce a “more efficient recruitment system.” By sharing “common business goals,” identifying the appropriate data points - that is going beyond the number of clicks to include the number of applications created and everything in between, Smith sees a more robust process that moves at “a quicker tempo” and provides both admissions and marketing with a more complete picture of just how successful recruiting campaigns are and can be.
Smith maintains that such “influencing” of the funnel through “Real-time website personalization allows a website to build a profile of a site visitor based on the content the user views as well as other digital attributes.” By better understating “the motivations of prospects,” schools can “tailor” messages that “speak” directly to prospects. In addition to identifying so-called “stealth applicants” - those who apply without filling out a request for information or ever visiting campus, Smith believes that analysis of additional data provided by admitted students through digital channels will eliminate the need for “cold calling students or sending generic emails.”
Smith goes on to examine further benefits of this approach as well as offering advice on how to begin and grow this new collaboration between marketing and admissions. To read the complete article click here.