Student Relationship Marketing in UK Business Schools


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Findings from a recent Masters into UK business schools and their approach to loyalty amongst their undergraduates.

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Student Relationship Marketing in UK Business Schools

  1. 1. STUDENT RELATIONSHIP MARKETING IN UK BUSINESS SCHOOLS (Masters in Marketing Management, Distinction) Vicky Robinson, Chartered Marketer, MA, MCIM, MCIPR
  2. 2. Research Objectives • To assess ABS members’ usage of relationship marketing techniques and the associated technology. • To review the current thinking on relationship marketing within business schools in the UK (changing technologies impact (i.e. Web 2.0) • To benchmark members marketing strategies and compare and contrast levels of sophistication and deployment.
  3. 3. Student /Customer Relationship Marketing Group Discussion on the Definition of WHAT IT MEANS TO YOU AND HOW YOUR SCHOOL IS ACTIVE IN R M
  4. 4. Relationships, are they want you think?
  5. 5. HIGHER EDUCATION MARKETING AN INTRODUCTION “In this dynamic, competitive environment the future success of educational establishments rests on the ability to differentiate themselves and build meaningful relationships not only with existing students but with potential students as well. To achieve this, internal systems need to be maximised to their full potential through the integration and use of internal CRM/relationship management which can pull together disseminated pieces of information from all types of databases and sources.” (King, 2006). DATA ARE
  6. 6. RELATIONSHIP MARKETING “Involves creating, maintaining and enhancing strong relationships with customers and other stakeholders. Increasingly, marketing is moving away from a focus on individual transactions and towards a focus on building value-laden relationships and marketing networks. Relationship marketing is orientated more towards the long term. The goal is to deliver long-term value to customers and the measure of success is long-term customer satisfaction. Relationship marketing requires that all of the company’s departments work together with a marketing team to serve the customer. It involves building relationships at many levels – economic, social, technical and legal – resulting in high customer loyalty.” Kotler et al, Principles of Marketing, (2008: 382).
  7. 7. Key questions that were asked included: • Do members employ a relationship marketing strategy? • Do they have a database/relationship marketing strategy unique to the school, if so how useful is this? • How these systems are used to move the student through their life cycle and the loyalty ladder? • Are the systems they are using effective in terms of providing the information they need to target communications? • Are these systems integrated across the university or indeed through the students’ life cycle? • Further research could investigate whether UK business schools are representative of UK higher education.
  8. 8. American View A paper by Hammond et al (2004) carried out research into US business schools and examined the effects on performance of the use or non-use of ‘selected marketing planning activities and the nature of relationships on recruitment. The findings showed that: • Schools of business that extolled excellence in their teaching were more likely to employ enrolment/student relationship management plans (and vice versa) • Schools that recognised research excellence were much more likely to employ an advertising campaign as a means of recruitment; and • Schools that were more service orientated were far more likely to employ university and business school enrolment management plans, university marketing plans and also to use relationship management with their enrolment plans. • It will be interesting to see how this maps against UK business schools and schools of management.
  9. 9. Research Methodology Data collection Secondary Data Internal External Qualitative Quantitative Interviews, Depth, telephone, face-face Self completion survey Interviewer completed surveys Pilot study
  10. 10. Benefits Key benefits from a case study from Newcastle Uni. • 25% increase in firm acceptances (postgraduate) year on year • Faster decision making • Streamline administrative processes • Positive feedback from students re their applications • Ability to plan university budgets.
  11. 11. Customer vs. Student Debate How do you view students? Roper and Campbell (1998) made no apologies for commenting that most institutions were not good at devoting time to telephone enquiries, sending out appropriate information in a timely manner or indeed replying to prospective students with relevant information – all elements of good customer service and indeed relationship marketing. Remember, the “customer is always right”. So if these imagined ‘customers’ want credentials, why not just become a diploma mill and sell outright what they really want, and never mind trying to get them to put something in their shopping cart? That, after all, is the logical endpoint of a race to the bottom as educational institutions try to please these ‘customers’ in a competitive market”.
  12. 12. Shift from Transactional to Relationship Marketing Ethos There is a marketer in all of us! Empower all staff to embody the customer orientated ethos. Key in relationship marketing is moving the consumer/student through the rungs of the Loyalty Ladder and through the Student Lifecycle.
  13. 13. INTERVIEWS Four interviews were carried out at the following institutions: • London South Bank University Business School • Manchester Metropolitan University Business School • Birmingham City University Business School • Nottingham Business School (backed up with a follow up telephone interview) The recipients were all shown the Ladder of Loyalty Model and the Student Life Cycle Model, They were informed that the interview would be based around these models and their own student relationship marketing plans.
  14. 14. Analysis and Findings of Online Survey • The remainder of the membership not already targeted by the telephone or face-to-face interviews were contacted, 110 in total, emails were sent via the Dean’s office with a link to the online survey. • The response rate was 37 which equated to: 33.63 % of the total sent out via email – the total number of respondents including telephone, face to face and online was 51.48% of the total ABS membership.
  15. 15. RESULTS • It is interesting to note that the majority of the people completing the survey were business schools Deans (35.1%, 13 respondents) followed by Marketing Managers/Directors (16.2 % each/12 respondents each) followed by thirdly, the Head of School (13.5% with 5 responses).
  16. 16. Please indicate which region your institution is based in. Answer Options Response Percent Response Count East Anglia 5.4% 2 East Midlands 10.8% 4 Greater London 2.7% 1 North 8.1% 3 North West 10.8% 4 Northern Ireland 0.0% 0 Scotland 13.5% 5 South East 18.9% 7 South West 8.1% 3 Wales 2.7% 1 West Midlands 2.7% 1 Yorkshire and Humberside 16.2% 6 answered question 37 skipped question 0 The ABS membership covers the UK, the most responses were gleaned from: The South East (18.9 % equalling 17 responses); followed by Yorkshire and Humberside (16.2 %, 6 responses); and East Midlands and North West both 10.8 % 4 responses each. The fewest responses from the online questionnaire were gained from Northern Ireland which shows a nil return, however there are only 2 business schools in Northern Ireland and one took part in a telephone interview. Geographic Results
  17. 17. How many students do you have on your business school database (prospective, present, past) Answer Options Response Percent Response Count <500 5.6% 2 <1000 16.7% 6 <2500 13.9% 5 <5000 8.3% 3 > 5000 55.6% 20 answered question 36 skipped question 1 Current Database Contact Numbers:
  18. 18. Strategy 73 % of respondents said that they do have a strategy, additional comments stated that this was not often formalised, was not integrated or that S/CRM systems were not employed. Additional comments below from respondents: The University has not had a unified CRM database, so activity has been ad hoc and disjointed, we are now devising a university-wide system for use, in place by October 2010 New marketing director who is developing this. In part, although some of our activities have a narrow focus. Not something we've considered. Under development at university level with bus school input. We do have one based on our partnership strategy: includes all stakeholders, including important industry partnerships. The strategy is as yet still in its early days. I think the nearest we have to this is our conversion campaign with applicants but we do not really call it a relationship marketing strategy - we are also thinking about how we are going to develop this with key business stakeholders. We don't have a standalone relationship marketing strategy. 27 % stated that they did not have a relationship marketing strategy – it is hoped that the findings of this survey and perhaps further studies into the effects of relationship marketing on students in business schools will be able to leverage marketing managers more in this area.
  19. 19. Do your own marketing professors advise your own marketing teams on (relationship) marketing strategy? Do your faculty marketing Professors advise your own marketing teams on (relationship) marketing strategy? Yes 24.3% No 75.7% It is interesting to note that over 75% of recipients said no to this question, ¾ of the total sample. It was noted earlier that some schools do pass plans in front of Professors. Some respondents commented that it would be contentious to include this in the process and that this could cause rifts between practitioners and the academics!
  20. 20. S/CRM Systems Nearly ¾ of the responses indicated that the business schools does not have a unique system just for the school’s contacts.
  21. 21. Integration Are the systems linked through an overall integrated/networked CRM system allowing you access to all records across the business school? Answer Options Response Percent Response Count Yes 20.6% 7 No 79.4% 27 Comments 5 answered question 34 skipped question 3 From the responses earlier we can surmise that business schools in the main do not have their own CRM/SRM systems which is therefore why a high percentage (nearly 80%) do not have access to an integrated system.
  22. 22. Benefits of Current System If you have an integrated system please can you indicate the main benefits that your system provides (in order to help you market/manage your institutions communications more effectively). Answer Options Response Percent Response Count Enquiry Management information (through pre-application) 36.4% 4 Application Management information 18.2% 2 Application Administration information 0.0% 0 Registration/Endorsement information 0.0% 0 Academic Enrolment information (module/course enrolment) 18.2% 2 Up-to-date information 0.0% 0 Demographic Information 9.1% 1 Psychographic information 0.0% 0 Personal contact details 0.0% 0 Student history 18.2% 2 Ability to cross/up sell other courses 0.0% 0 Comments 5 answered question 11 skipped question 26
  23. 23. Current Database If you have a relationship marketing system/database that you use to specifically target and track students on could you please say how long this has been in place for. If not please indicate any plans for this to be introduced or any other relevant comments in the box provided. Answer Options Response Percent Response Count <2 years 55.0% 11 <5 years 10.0% 2 5+ years 35.0% 7 Other (please specify) 8 answered question 20 skipped question 17 A high number of respondents skipped this question, comments can be found below: •We don't have a system •Database to be running by 2010, partially operational now •Currently tracked through different systems for different reasons/stages •database will be used for this •The same system has been used to follow up on undergraduate applications for many years •Not BS specific - central would own/manage if there were any plans to introduce one. •We have used Facebook hitherto rather than a database, but one is now being organised centrally for the university •In development.
  24. 24. Usability and Effectiveness Please can you highlight how easy your system is to use (usability) and also how effective you think it is (satisfaction) regarding targeting and communicating with your students throughout the student life cycle. 1 being low 5 high. Answer Options 1 2 3 4 5 Response Count Usability 2 4 11 4 1 22 Effectiveness/satisfaction 4 3 9 6 0 22 Comments 9 answered question 23 skipped question 14 •Further comments can be found below: •We don't have a system. SITS is a disaster •The key barrier for us is volume of UG applications, making any form of meaningful relationship management difficult •Not a direct user so cannot comment •It's easy to use as our central teams do this for us but the tracking and reporting is disappointing •I have given low scores as we have not fully implemented the system as yet so thorough testing has not been carried out •Integrated but still could be slicker •We have only just developed our alumni database and presumably our student records system will feed directly into it. I am not in a position to answer this question. •This is a new system - first academic cycle.
  25. 25. Main Barriers The main barriers shown to be coming out of the survey findings are: • Current systems are disjointed, i.e. lack of integration across the university/schools • Data is collected and logged in erratic ways • Data and leads are lost due to bad data management or systems that are not up to the job • cleanliness of data is an issue • The ownership of the data, and data protection issues i.e. Alumni Office holding the database and access to the queries • A lack of top level support for integrated systems to be brought in (due to management changes, finances, other priorities) • Cost to implement • Time taken to bring in the systems whilst carrying out one’s normal day-to-day work • C/RM is maybe seen for the corporate world and not for HEI’s.
  26. 26. Recommendations • Employ a relationship marketing plan as a crucial part of the overall strategic plan of the school – relate this back to key objectives. • Support and embed the relationship marketing strategy as part of the over arching integrated marketing and communications plan. • Audit current systems in use and how effective/easy they are for marketers use for reporting and targeting campaigns. • Ask the students what communications they want and how they rate the current strategy – focus groups or a student marketing lead person. • Have dedicated points of contact for the student and make it easy for them to communicate with you – log this in the system. • Build and nurture long-term relationships (using the loyalty ladder and student life cycle models) mapped against systems and campaigns. • Benchmark against other business schools. • Mystery shop against other schools to see what communications and methods they use for relationship marketing.
  27. 27. Level of tactical/strategic input Snapshot Level of database integration
  28. 28. •79% of those surveyed have a non-integrated system •73% do have a specific relationship marketing plan. •Tactical rather than strategic, relying on staff to compile reports from disjointed systems •Clearly it would be beneficial in terms of loyalty for future strategy to be based around an integrated SRM system that is strategically supported by senior managers allowing practitioners to have more control over campaigns and data – the student would thereby benefit from a closer relationship creating brand loyalty and allegiance. •This would mean heavy investment and is by no means a simple task but would lead to more effective and efficient data capture and as a few schools are excelling the benchmark would be to lead in this field. •As mentioned previously, lots of schools are carrying out SRM but not using software to enable this and thus creates an administrative burden to already stretched marketing professionals. HEADLINE CONCLUSIONS:
  29. 29. Dissemination of Findings • • Dissemination to all ABS Members • Submission of findings to several Marketing Journals and the Chartered Institute of Marketing the Marketer. • THES published an article • Findings to the CIM HEI MIG group.
  30. 30. Coverage
  31. 31. Thanks Questions and answers