Five Research Driven Strategies To Improve Student Yield Through Communication

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Five Research-Driven Strategies to Improve Student Yield through Communication
Session 1, Room: Sierra H, 9:40a.m. - 10:15a.m.
Don Alava, eLearners.com

Abstract: Knowing what makes online career college prospects tick gives you the upper-hand in attracting and retaining them. Hear it straight from prospects’ mouths as the results of research, secret shopping and lessons learned from peers are revealed.

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Five Research Driven Strategies To Improve Student Yield Through Communication

  1. 1. Five Research-Driven Strategies to Improve Student Yield through CommunicationOctober 29, 2009<br />
  2. 2. About the Speaker<br />Don AlavaSenior Vice President, EducationDynamics<br />Experience<br />Drexel University Online<br />Razorfish<br />Euro RSCG<br />Education<br />MS, Northwestern University<br />BBA, University of Cincinnati <br />2<br />
  3. 3. About EducationDynamics<br />Help institutions Find, Enroll and Retainmore students<br />Content-rich information websites has connected more than 3 million students with institutions<br />EarnMyDegree.com, eLearners.com, GradSchools.com, StudyAbroad.com<br />Offer a full suite of Web-delivered services proven to drive enrollment growth and reduce student attrition<br />Focus on Higher Education, working with over 1,200 institutions<br />Recently merged with the Aslanian Group, specialists in adult student market analysis, resulting in the creation of a Market Research and Analysis Division<br />3<br />
  4. 4. The Challenge & Opportunity<br />4<br />Increasing popularity of distance learning<br />More students<br />More competition<br />Must understand<br />What works<br />What doesn’t<br />What is most meaningful outreach<br />How to respond<br />Thousands of accredited institutions with Online Courses<br />4 Million Students Taking Online Course* <br />* “Staying the Course: Online Education in the United States,” Sloan-C, November 2008,<br />http://www.sloanconsortium.org/publications/survey/pdf/staying_the_course.pdf<br />
  5. 5. Closing the Gaps:Meeting Emerging Student Preferences and Increasing Yield in the Post-Inquiry Enrollment Process<br />Survey<br />2,000 prospective students visiting eLearners.com and EarnMyDegree.com<br />32% Associates, 37% Bachelor’s, 31% Master’s and above<br />Polled their perceptions of the post-inquiry enrollment process<br />Secret Shopper<br />Catalogued the enrollment efforts of various institutions offering online degree programs<br />Interviews<br />Met with a select number of online learning providers<br />Reviewed their processes and responses to student inquiries<br />5<br />
  6. 6. Closing the Gaps:Meeting Emerging Student Preferences and Increasing Yield in the Post-Inquiry Enrollment Process<br />6<br />
  7. 7. Closing the Gaps: ResultsMeeting Emerging Student Preferences and Increasing Yield in the Post-Inquiry Enrollment Process<br />What mattered most to students?<br />Speed and method of contact<br />What else mattered?<br />Quality of contact<br />Online activities<br />Institution’s website<br />Other web-based activities, e.g. blogs, online course demos<br />7<br />
  8. 8. Closing the Gaps: ResultsMeeting Emerging Student Preferences and Increasing Yield in the Post-Inquiry Enrollment Process<br />Good News<br />89% satisfied or very satisfied with the entire school selection process<br />Gaps to address and improve enrollment yield<br />Gap 1: Speed and consistency of contact<br />Gap 2: Quality of contact<br />Gap 3: Method of contact<br />Gap 4: Web-based prospecting activities<br />8<br />
  9. 9. Gap 1: Speed and Consistency of Contact<br />65% requested information from more than two institutions<br />9<br />
  10. 10. Gap 1: Speed and Consistency of Contact<br />Secret Shopper inquiries revealed that 23% of institutions never responded<br />10<br />
  11. 11. Gap 1: Speed and Consistency of Contact<br />Case Study: Bryant & Stratton University<br />Upon receipt of a lead, immediately dispatches a personalized email<br />Includes online brochure specific to his or her program of inquiry<br />Explains the program features and benefits<br />Within 10 to 15 minutes of the inquiry and the automatic email response, place an outbound phone call<br />Experienced, full-time enrollment representative<br />Goal is to check if the prospect is really interested and to transfer the qualified prospect to an admissions representative<br />Result: With their immediate outreach and tailored follow-up, seen a significant increase in the conversion rate of student inquiries to enrollments as compared to their previous, less-immediate response processes<br />11<br />
  12. 12. Gap 1: Speed and Consistency of Contact<br />Case Study: Post University<br />Goal: Respond to all inquiries within an hour of receipt<br />Revised process flow based on tenets of “persistence and consistency”<br />Substantially improved/expanded its technology<br />Results:<br />90 percent of prospects are now contacted within a half hour<br />Consistent call cycle that mixes up outreach hours (different segments throughout the day and night and weekdays and Saturday)<br />Doubled Post’s conversion rate<br />12<br />
  13. 13. Gap 2: Quality of Contact<br />Most useful school-sponsored activity<br />Interaction with effective enrollment counselors<br />Comments about enrollment counselors<br />Assertive but<br />Honest<br />Caring<br />Knowledgeable<br />13<br />
  14. 14. Gap 2: Quality of Contact<br />“ Any successful enrollment campaign should hinge on the following principle: Communicate something meaningful.”<br />–University Business<br />Common practices to avoid<br />Overly scripted, non-personalized outreach<br />Polite but not engaging<br />Lack of knowledge regarding specific program information and educational financing options<br />Outreach occurring at a time other than that designated by the prospect<br />Follow-up by multiple points of contact from an institution rather than establishing any meaningful connection through a main contact<br />14<br />
  15. 15. Gap 2: Quality of Contact<br />Case Study: Texas A&M’s Bush School of Government and Public Service<br />Combine both personalized, peer-to-peer information and more administrative-type information<br />Existing students provide “insider’s view”<br />Full-time enrollment staff speak to specifics of programs, services, costs<br />Receiving more and more inquiries from older, seasoned professionals; staff accordingly with representatives whose lives reflect similar circumstances<br />Ongoing training for student and staff<br />Result: exceptionally high levels of student conversions and a high level of alignment between student enrollees and the success of those students<br />15<br />
  16. 16. Gap 2: Quality of Contact<br />Case Study: Lehigh University<br />Low-pressure but persistent approach <br />Distribute information in a strategically timed schedule<br />Send a “Program Spotlight” email highlighting the programs in which students have expressed an interest, along with more detailed program overviews, academic contact information and deadlines<br />Send additional information three weeks prior to admission deadlines<br />16<br />
  17. 17. Gap 2: Quality of Contact<br />Case Study: Lehigh University<br />Send survey approximately every two and a half years to uncommitted inquirers to determine continued interest on their part<br />Found that a significant number of prospects respond positively to the follow-up contact and quite a few prospective students apply<br />Results: Meet strategic conversion goals year after year, despite a substantial increase in competition<br />17<br />
  18. 18. Gap 3: Method of Contact<br />Initial Contact<br />38% of schools used email<br />40% of schools used phone for initial contact<br />13% regular mail<br />After Initial Contact<br />52 % used email<br />42% used phone<br />18<br />
  19. 19. Gap 3: Method of Contact<br />Persistence is also key, i.e., multiple follow-up contacts<br />60 percent of enrollments close after the fifth contact<br />50 percent of disqualified leads become qualified within 12 months of the initial inquiry<br />Secret shopper research revealed many schools seemed willing to conduct aggressive initial post-inquiry follow up, but then abandoned attempts at contact shortly thereafter<br />19<br />
  20. 20. Gap 3: Method of Contact<br />Case Study: Private, For-Profit, &gt; 10,000 Enrollments<br />Changed contact strategy from calling within 24 hours to calling within one hour of receipt of inquiry to “get in front of” the competition<br />Once a lead is received, an email is sent to the prospect immediately with links to the school’s website<br />Students can do more research at their convenience<br />Believe that prospects do not want a phone call and would prefer conversing online<br />Tactic is less intrusive way to meet their information needs, and drives inbound calls when the prospect is ready to take the next step and enroll<br />20<br />
  21. 21. Gap 3: Method of Contact<br />Case Study: Private, For-Profit, &gt; 10,000 Enrollments<br />Mailing is sent the following day, and emails are sent on days one, five, seven and 10, as part of a multifaceted outreach process intended to provide contact over a 10-15 day period<br />Results<br />Contact rates increased by 25-30%<br />Conversion rates increased by 1.5%<br />21<br />
  22. 22. Gap 3: Method of Contact<br />Case Study: Texas A&M’s Bush School of Government and Public Service<br />Responds by email within 24 hours<br />At 48 hours, recruitment team calls the potential student to arrange an appointment to discuss the student’s needs; this outreach is followed shortly by a customized email<br />Seventy-two hours later, the enrollment management office reaches out to the prospect once more, and every 72 hours thereafter for three weeks depending on the prospect’s phase in the process<br />Result: Close to 60 percent sales-close percentages projected after the fifth contact<br />22<br />
  23. 23. Gap 4: Web-Based Prospecting Initiatives<br />Case Study: Bryant & Stratton University<br />Entire campus in Second Life<br />Allows prospects to explore the campus on their own<br />Virtual open houses and chat room events with admissions staff, faculty and institutional administrators all in attendance—through their personal avatars<br />Video Q&A<br />Current and former students share answers to real questions posed by prospective students<br />Results: Recently implemented<br />23<br />
  24. 24. Gap 4: Web-Based Prospecting Initiatives<br />24<br />
  25. 25. Gap 4: Web-Based Prospecting Initiatives<br />25<br />
  26. 26. Gap 4: Web-Based Prospecting Initiatives<br />Social media and/or Web-based initiatives are still in the early stages, several key points have emerged:<br />Provide as much “decision-support” information on your school’s website as possible<br />Career prospects for graduates of your programs<br />Welcome bios for all of your online teaching staff<br />Testimonials about the school and/or specific programs from current students or prospective employers).<br />26<br />
  27. 27. Gap 4: Web-Based Prospecting Initiatives<br />While social media and/or Web-based initiatives are still in the early stages, several key points have emerged:<br />Try all of the social media tools, such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, but also consider niche social networks and online communities that may resonate with specific programs you offer<br />Ask the youngest members of your recruitment staff if they have experience with social media to help navigate this territory<br />Understand that this is all new ground for recruiters, so there are as of yet no hard-and-fast rules<br />27<br />
  28. 28. Gap 4: Web-Based Prospecting Initiatives<br />Case Study: Private, For-Profit, 3,000-10,000 Enrollments<br />Equipped their enrollment representatives with the necessary social media tools (e.g., Twitter profiles, cell phones, instant messaging accounts, etc.) and skills to interact in these environments when invited to do so by a prospect<br />No contact is initiated, for example, with a prospect on Facebook unless the student first invites the school to connect with him or her<br />In terms of post-inquiry outreach, however, the institution has found that a Facebook invite from a prospect can sometimes be more valuable than the email address and phone number combined<br />28<br />
  29. 29. Best Practices<br />Speed and consistency of contact<br />Swift response matters<br />Qualify prospects<br />Quality of contact<br />Focus on gathering and sharing information<br />Utilize current students<br />Train, train and retrain<br />Method of contact<br />Preferred method<br />Communications strategy involving email and phone<br />Consistent follow-through<br />29<br />
  30. 30. Best Practices<br />Web-based prospecting initiatives<br />Information-rich websites that allow for interaction between prospect and institution<br />Explore social media<br />Why?<br />Students have access to more institutions<br />Other institutions have access to more students<br />30<br />
  31. 31. Help & Resources<br />Obtain Free Copy of White Paper:Closing the Gaps: Meeting Student Preferences and Increasing Yield in the Post-Inquiry Enrollment Process<br />Visit EducationDynamics Booth #816 for free copy<br />Go to http://sharing.educationdynamics.com/media/p/356.aspx for pdf copy<br />Additional questions? PDF copy of the presentation?<br />Contact Don Alava<br />Phone: 201-377-3045<br />Email: dalava@educationdynamics.com<br />Twitter: http://twitter.com/HigherEdDon<br />31<br />
  32. 32. Five Research-Driven Strategies to Improve Student Yield through CommunicationOctober 29, 2009<br />

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