A Data Driven Approach to Attracting New Students

Colleges and higher education have a common need for constantly attracting new students every year to fill out their on-campus and on-line classes.  A common practice used is taking an existing list of students and creating a matching list of possible incoming students that most closely matches that list.  Well, this works, but not as well as everyone hopes. This strategy is significantly limiting when the demographics and economics within a region are regularly changing.  Student diversity tends to go down and the educational institution misses out on quite a broad range of potential students.  This becomes even more apparent for on-line courses which are open to anyone beyond driving distance.

So, how do you combat this to drive diversified student growth?

Finding the Best Students

Whether students are attending a typical 4 year college, attending online courses, seeking new certifications or just job training, the big key is finding students that are going to stick around and excel. These are your best students. Looking at just the last year’s class of data is not sufficient to find matches.  Higher education marketing teams need to look at several years of data to determine who the students are that stick around, that keep coming back.  What do those students look like?  Once that is understood, then a strategy can be formulated that reaches more students like them.

The types of data to look for to find these students that are the best fit can include:

  1. Satisfaction ratings from surveys
  2. Majors or certifications being achieved
  3. Travel distance for classes
  4. GPA

Use More Student Profiles to Increase Registrations

As expected, there is not one single student profile that identifies a successful student.  It is quite possible that you have several small but highly successful segments that could be significantly larger if you only knew about them and how to reach them. Here is a solid strategy to consider.  Find out what are the common characteristics of a successful student, but then start segmenting this audience into subcategories to find out what motivates and drives these segments to succeed. By doing so, you should be able to discover what makes these smaller groups unique so that you can reach out and attract more to your programs.

Using Your Failing Student Segments

Now that you’ve identified and segmented all of your successful students, you should also spend some time analyzing the failing segments.  What are the segments of the student population that drop out early or fail to make the grade? This data can be just as powerful or more beneficial than knowing the best audience to target with your marketing campaigns.

In digital advertising like Google Adwords, we often use negative keywords to improve our campaigns.  These negative terms can be terms in our industry that can deliver traffic, but it is the wrong type of traffic that doesn’t convert.  It causes companies to waste their ad budget to target those terms.  By identifying those terms, they reduce the overall spend so that more money can be spent on targeting the right customer.  The same principle applies here to attract the right students.  You need to know the characteristics of the wrong student so you avoid marketing to them.

For instance, you can use Lumentis (image below) to upload a list of students that match the data of students that are performing well (sample data in blue). Then you can use that to find potential students with similar profiles to market to.

Of course, you can use this data to understand why a particular segment doesn’t stay in school and work to make changes to help them.  But in terms of marketing to and attracting the best students, knowing the negative characteristics will help you avoid them so you have a greater budget to reach MORE of your successful students.  So when it comes time to buy more data for the next semester or next years student data, you won’t have to buy as much data and your conversion rates of quality students who stick around longer will go up.

Where Do You Start?

Well, that’s where we can help. Lumentis has access to a lot of different data to help you find students. You can also look for sources of data from other companies that work with students regularly such as testing and cerification companies.  If you want to find out how we can help, justs let us know.

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