Recruitment Communication in an Electronic World


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What will you do if you can no longer use print communications in student recruitment?

This presentation uses illustrations from 23 colleges & universities to build a comprehensive online communication plan, for the time of a first website visit to orientation and selecting a roommate.

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Recruitment Communication in an Electronic World

  1. 1. Recruitment Communication in a World of Electronic Contacts © 2008 Robert E. Johnson, Ph.D. ACT State Organization, Ohio 2009 Annual Conference January 27-28, 2009 Columbus, Ohio
  2. 2. Recruitment communication funding… Doesn’t yet reflect communication preferences of potential students…
  3. 3. Online financial resources are limited… <ul><li>Budget split between print and web: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>24% on print vs. 11% on “Website and other electronic formats” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Maguire Associates, 2008 Senior Admissions and Enrollment Officers survey </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  4. 4. A missing element in the plan: “My son was really angry…” in 2007 South Dakota State University administrator <ul><li>Most schools don’t give “real cost” information online to students and parents </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Virtual financial aid estimator </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>15% of publics and 21% of privates </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tuition calculator </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>22% of publics and 15% of privates </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Noel-Levitz 2008 recruitment practices survey </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Price information is of high interest </li></ul><ul><ul><li>80% would use a financial aid estimator “if they could” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>76% would use a tuition cost calculator “if they could” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Noel-Levitz 2007 student expectations survey </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Today’s communication environment… More students prefer online communication… Print consumes far more resources than online… More students stay in “stealth” mode longer…
  6. 6. Can an online communication plan reduce stealth applicants? Create benefits for those who hide… “ If you identify yourself, we will do something special for you…”
  7. 7. Meeting 2 challenges from the start… How to communicate online during a recruitment cycle as long as 3 years… How to convert people from stealth mode to known inquiries
  8. 8. At the first and early visits…. <ul><li>3 important goals: </li></ul><ul><li>Create initial engagement in 3 to10 seconds </li></ul><ul><li>Return for another visit </li></ul><ul><li>Leave stealth mode as soon as possible </li></ul>
  9. 9. Make a strong brand impact, immediately… <ul><li>Most front pages make no immediate statement about a particular school </li></ul><ul><li>If a brand statement is used at all, it is usually small and difficult to see among the other content </li></ul><ul><li>Students don’t look for a brand statement </li></ul><ul><li>If you have a point of pride, act like it </li></ul>
  10. 10. Blog content right from the start… <ul><li>MIT admissions page </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Blog series is featured content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Students and admissions staff </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Includes a blog by the financial aid director </li></ul></ul><ul><li>MIT introduces people first </li></ul>
  11. 11. Easy access to academic programs… <ul><li>The stronger the student, the more they will want to find the academic programs offered </li></ul><ul><li>At this point, give them titles rather than text about the titles </li></ul><ul><li>This Dickinson version lets visitors get information about several programs at the same time </li></ul>
  12. 12. Carewords that engage visitors… <ul><li>Carewords to motivate visitors in 2 to 5 seconds </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Advance Your Career </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Home – Work – School Balance </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Ask your future students what words and phrases are important to them </li></ul><ul><li>Use the words on your website </li></ul><ul><li>Build content behind the words </li></ul>
  13. 13. FAQs that live and breath in video…
  14. 14. Campus tours to introduce your students……
  15. 15. Offer a benefit for an online inquiry… Give a reason to reveal identity… Make it easy to become an online inquiry to get the benefit
  16. 16. Short inquiry forms encourage action… <ul><li>Direct marketers know that the longer the form, the fewer people will complete it </li></ul><ul><li>Resist the impulse to conduct a demographic survey </li></ul><ul><li>Ask only what is needed to send requested information </li></ul><ul><ul><li>No ACT or SAT </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No GPA </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No high school code </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Real talk about financial aid and cost… <ul><li>The cost of college is important to most families </li></ul><ul><li>Colleges do a poor job of explaining how financial aid works </li></ul><ul><li>Muhlenberg College tells the “real” story of how aid is awarded </li></ul><ul><li>But they don’t offer an opportunity for individual information </li></ul>
  18. 18. Followed by an individual estimate…
  19. 19. Other cost-related examples…
  20. 20. 8 tips for an admissions essay…
  21. 21. Add a quarterly online magazine… <ul><li>Start sending whenever an inquiry is made, continue until declined </li></ul><ul><li>Track interest in stories included in the magazine as ongoing research to future content </li></ul><ul><li>Include links to main website </li></ul><ul><li>Add a blog for readers </li></ul>
  22. 22. After an online inquiry… Regular contact is critical… At least once a month
  23. 23. Viewbook…Online, interactive, video… <ul><li>Sound and video </li></ul><ul><li>Not just a “message from the dean” </li></ul><ul><li>Students tell stories about their experience </li></ul><ul><li>Faculty are highlighted </li></ul><ul><li>Alumni are included </li></ul><ul><li>Visible link to application </li></ul>
  24. 24. Integrating website and social networks… <ul><li>Boundaries between official websites and the social network world are eroding </li></ul><ul><li>Plan a pro-active approach to this change and develop two-way passages between each world for contacts useful throughout the recruitment cycle </li></ul>
  25. 25. Engaging on Facebook & MySpace…
  26. 26. A note on email impact today… <ul><li>Email remains highly popular if the content in the email is of interest to the person receiving it. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Send email after a person makes an inquiry </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Tell them you are going to do it and how often you will do it </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Always include links in email to online content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Your own website </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Social networking sites with content about you </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Set analytics software to measure popularity of topics you include in your email </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Adjust email content based in part on analytics measurement results </li></ul></ul>
  27. 27. Consistent, frequent email contact… May 2006………………………January 2008
  28. 28. Focus the email to work for you… <ul><li>Email does more than send facts to inquiry pool </li></ul><ul><li>Every Colgate email links to student blogs </li></ul><ul><li>Every email links to other website locations </li></ul><ul><ul><li>December included videos of recent campus events </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Email includes “Send to a friend” link and opportunity to subscribe </li></ul>
  29. 29. Final conversion steps… Personal IM & text contacts… Telephone contact… Special website features
  30. 30. IM, text messaging, telephone… <ul><li>Ask permission </li></ul><ul><li>Always a good idea to offer options </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Phone </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>IM </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Communicate as needed by admitted students </li></ul><ul><li>Reserve for admitted students if capacity requires that </li></ul>
  31. 31. Online enrollment deposit…
  32. 32. Orientation info for students & parents…
  33. 33. Selecting a roommate online…
  34. 34. The summary…
  35. 35. Repeating 7 key elements… <ul><li>More people prefer online communications </li></ul><ul><li>Technology is changing and requires new resources to adapt communication plans </li></ul><ul><li>Special customer-centric features increase initial engagement </li></ul><ul><li>Create benefits for stealth explorers to register </li></ul><ul><li>Plan frequent online follow-up </li></ul><ul><li>Video plays a more important role </li></ul><ul><li>Use analytics to measure success and make changes to what isn’t working </li></ul>
  36. 36. Useful sources of information…
  37. 37. 3 industry specific research reports… <ul><li>Interactive Marketing Channels to Watch in 2008 </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reviews enrollment management attitudes and concerns about adopting new technologies and outlines steps to a new strategy. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>2008 E-Recruiting Practices report </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reports survey responses on recruitment practices and budgets. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Also read the related 2007 report on what students prefer online. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Senior Admissions and Enrollment Officers: Experiences and Attitudes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>http:// </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Survey reporting major pressures faced by enrollment leaders, including resources for new technologies </li></ul></ul>
  38. 38. For general background… <ul><li>Writing, Technology and Teens </li></ul><ul><li>Teens and Social Media </li></ul>
  39. 39. Thank You! Bob Johnson, Ph.D. President and Senior Consultant Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 226 Chauncey Court Marshall, MI 49068 248.766.6425 [email_address] Customer Carewords Research for Online Marketing Success: