Making the Most of Your Search Campaign

Your search campaign is one of the most important tools in planning for recruiting and increasing enrollment for your institution.  A successful search campaign will broaden the pool of qualified applicants and drive students to your campus.  But where do you begin? Which practices yield the best results?

We’ve compiled a list of 10 tips to make the most of your search campaign.

1. Know Your Audience

A good search campaign starts with an understanding of who you’re trying to reach.  Start with a solid foundation of market research to bring clarity and focus to your search.  Knowing which students are most likely to apply will concentrate your efforts. Don’t forget to use your enrollment history!

2. Know Yourself

What sets you apart from the rest? Identify your distinctive qualities and develop a message that highlights those strengths when speaking to prospective students.

3. Meet Them Where They Are

Engage your audience where they live and how they live.  Gen Z is actively engaged on social media which means you should be too. Don’t forget to get social with them. Share their excitement about acceptance and fun opportunities for current students.

4. Don’t Forget the Parents

Parents are more involved than ever before, as they may be footing the bill for your student.  Appeal to them in your communications, using their preferred methods.

5. Have a Plan

Gen Z has been marketed to their whole lives. They want to understand who you are as an institution. Tell your story in an inviting and organized way. Each of your communication methods should build the overall picture for the student and give clear and concise calls to action to take the next step.

6. Spice It Up

The same publications year in and year out gets old and becomes ineffective.  Revamp your image using a suite of pubs that speak to your audience. Don’t just stop at travel pieces either, think about the big picture, yield. Do you have a fun acceptance package or enticing communication beyond the initial inquiry and application stages? If not, let us help.

7. Let Your Data Do the Talking

Use a CRM or campaign reporting tool to measure your reach and guide your efforts. Conduct surveys, focus groups and interviews to gain insights of the effectiveness of your campaigns.

8. Create Urgency

Push out countdown messaging to inform and create a sense of hurry in your audience to drive them forward in the enrollment process.  Clearly define your timeline and any key deadlines that are coming up.

9. Don’t Let Your Website Fall Short

You have your communication flow, you have your identified audience, you’re driving them to enroll through targeted, strategic communications.  When they’re ready to bite, ensure that your website is an extension of your campaign.  If it’s not cohesive, if it doesn’t tell the same message, you’ll stop them in their tracks.

10. Partner with a Search Expert

Obviously search goes beyond purchasing names and sending correspondence. A successful search campaign hinges on creating a story and experience the students (and families) are excited to participate in.  This may seem daunting. Collaborate with a trusted search and marketing firm to take the stress from your team, and resolve to hit your enrollment goals this year.

TWG Plus is marketing firm that specializes in Higher Education. The five main umbrellas of services we offer are: search, publications, research, branding, and digital marketing. Contact us for more information. We can’t wait to help you grow your enrollment funnel!

Storytelling Through Comm Flow

Imagine this: You’re a student standing at a college fair. You likely have some direction, some idea that has caught your attention and an answer just in case the admission counselor asks what you want to study. You approach another table still unsure of what questions to ask or what you need to know about this school.

Suddenly, the admission counselor with a warm smile sticks their hand out, asks how you’re doing and begins a conversation that is casual and engaging. Before you know it, they’ve uncovered the perfect fit by asking the right questions that helped get to know you. It’s perfect. You’re sold. This is the school for you!

But, what if that hadn’t happened? What if, instead, you approached the table and the first question they asked is “Do you have any questions?” You’re pulse quickens, your throat tightens, you feel embarrassed that you don’t know what to ask right on the spot! So you grab some information, walk away, and gradually drop the information elsewhere before heading home feeling like the night was a bust.

Communication. It’s potentially one of the most underrated and underutilized skills. It has the potential to build people up and strengthen a relationship, or leave someone wondering why they even tried.

Have you considered that your admission strategy may be leaving students behind? Every good story has a beginning (inquiry) and an end (enrollment), but no good story only has those two points. Every truly notable story has a middle- that’s the best part! It’s where you discover the depth of the characters, where you get immersed in the story and can’t wait to discover what it’ll be like at the end. With an intriguing middle, you’re sad when the end comes because you just want a little bit more. It’s all about the middle.

What if your communication flow as an institution held the attention of your target audience that way? What if it left students wanting to know more, excited to be a part of the story at your institution?

Too good to be true? No! Not at all. As a matter of fact, it should be the norm!

The middle of your admission funnel should be the best part. It’s where they’re discovering who you are, where they belong in the story, and the anticipation that awaits when they get on campus and get to continue building their legacy as a part of that story.

A solid communication flow reaches beyond catchy emails and a stellar student call center. Rather, it:

  • Builds – it extends year-round and starts as early as their freshman year. It encompasses yield initiatives and multiple channels of communication. Each piece builds upon another to continue telling the story. Don’t forget you can use current students to build on that story too! Strong calls to action play a crucial role in a successfully building initiative, however, don’t forget to be social and engaging too – especially on social media.
  • Is personalized – this doesn’t mean you should make each outreach method completely individualized, but you do want to make it feel personal, special to them. You can also use your budget wisely by establishing which students are most likely to enroll and spending more of your time and resources focused on them.
  • Excites – A term we like to use is “Acceptance Euphoria.” Don’t just let it be an exciting moment for them – celebrate with them! Use their excitement as an organic means of drumming up excitement with other students. Allow them to be your advocate and encourage their excitement – this is a thrilling moment within their own personal stories.

The best part of a communication flow is that it includes your student in telling an incredible story. Play around! Let your team come up with a strategy that works for your institution and conveys who you are in a fun and engaging way. But if along the way you find it feels daunting instead of exciting, TWG Plus is here to help!

And they all lived happily ever after, or so the story goes.

A Road Warrior’s Guide to Engaging Students

Fall travel season will be here soon! You’ve barely finished recruiting the 2017 class and instead of catching your breath, you’re caught in the busyness of gearing up for travel season and the next cycle. The seemingly endless hours spent on the road traveling from visit to visit; engaging parents, students, alumni, and counselors about your institution; long nights entering data and catching up on emails; lots of sandwiches; and extreme amounts of hand sanitizer. But despite the long hours and exhaustion, you know the conversation with any given student could be the one that makes their decision and that makes it worth every long hour.

We’ve pulled together a list of five tips for engaging students on the road. Some tips come from admission teams around the country and others come from our very own team’s prior experience in admissions.

1. Interaction is key

You’re exhausted and another student just walked up to your table, pointed, and asked the dreaded question “what’s this?” Mentally you’re responding with “a university, duh, can’t you read?” But instead, you smile and kindly respond with an explanation of what your college or university is about. You know the variety of dreaded topics we’re talking about: sports, majors, inappropriate or just plain awkward questions. But what some counselors fail to realize is that your attitude may be the only impression a student has of your institution. Plus, other students may be watching to see if they want to approach and learn more about you.  Be kind.

2. Gen Z is all about personalization

This generation has been marketed to their whole lives, and they’re not interested your sales pitch. Most don’t want to walk up to your table to be asked “do you have any questions?” You should engage them. “What are you interested in? What are your long-term goals? What do you enjoy doing in your free time?” Then personalize your response to what they’re interested in knowing about your campus. It takes the pressure off them and makes it feel more like friends getting to know one another. You’ll notice they stay longer and are more willing to fill out an inquiry card or give you their barcode to scan.

To take that a step further, a handshake goes a long way. Let them know you’re willing to reach across the table and view them as another person, not a sale.

3. Meet your students where they are

On social media! Have a solid communication flow of how you’re going to let students know you’re in their area. Make phone calls or send texts to your inquiry pool letting them know what day you’ll be at their high school. Schedule events at a local coffee shop to hang out with students who have applied. Make an effort to let them know in advance you’ll be visiting near them.

Don’t forget to use Snapchat. That’s where Gen Z is hanging out the most right now. A social media presence is huge, and a company like TWG Plus can help with your image.

4. Take care of your counselors and alumni

These two groups of people are your biggest assets when it comes to getting in front of students. As they share their encounters and experiences with students, you want to be sure that relationship is well nurtured. One of our team members at TWG Plus told a story about how she used to take a tea – “Route 44, unsweet, with two Splenda” as she recalls the story- to an alumna teacher at a school on the way home to visit her parents. She said, to this day she still gets a thanks when they run into one another at homecoming or campus events. That teacher brought groups of students to visit and was her biggest advocate, and the school became one of the top feeder schools in her region, and it all started with going a step further.  Take care of those who interact with future students.

5. Don’t forget to rock your pubs

We know personal interactions with people do the most for your image – especially for smaller schools – but don’t forget that your display also takes effort. Your travel piece, table top banners, and other pieces are all part of your story and they will or will not continue to engage the student and their parents after their encounter with you. Give them materials that are informative and stand out. If you’re needing a refresh, a marketing agency that specializes in Higher Ed publications, such as TWG Plus can help.

Out-of-the-Box Recruitment

Soon, your Fall 2017 class will be moved in and settling into your campus (their new homes). You’ll be giving your team a pat on the back for a job well done just before diving headfirst into the next recruitment cycle and starting all over again. The countless hours spent between travel and file review add up, yet somehow there’s still a margin that leaves you sweating and wondering if you’ll make the goal or set a record-breaking year. The pressure is on!

We’ve got some fun and out-of-the-box ideas to expand your recruitment toolbox and personalize your outreach to incoming students, using your best assets for your benefit.

Engage students, alumni, and counselors with these 6 simple ideas that will make you and your institution top of mind.

Start Younger

Did you know that many universities around the country are already reaching out to junior and even sophomore students? Which means if you’re waiting until a student’s senior year to start reaching out, you’re way behind.

That may not worry you if your inquiry pool is large enough and you’re feeling good about your goals, but if not, Search can be a huge asset to your team. Buying lists that fit within your target markets, creating engaging content, and reaching out to junior and sophomore students is a great way to stay ahead of the curve.

Keep It Comfortable and Casual

Host events in areas with a large population or with feeder schools of your incoming class. Consider hosting a two-hour come-and-go coffee night where families can swing by and ask questions or a sit-down dinner at a local restaurant. Feeling comfortable with you and the environment is a significant factor for them. Keeping it casual makes it easier for them to ask questions and get to know you, so don’t be afraid to meet them where they are.

Another option to connect is to host alumni events or mixers in the area. Whether that’s a sporting event of some sort or a party before fall orientation to send off students, engaging your alumni brings that personalized touch to life. Remember alumni are your biggest advocates!

Take Care of Your Counselors

We’ve heard of admission counselors taking students treats when they come for a visit at their high school. One of our team members noted that when she was in admissions, she applied that strategy to the high school counselors and teachers who had let her present in her region. Needless to say, they never turned down an offer for her to stop by and visit!

Students Love Swag

Even though not all conferences allow giveaways, don’t miss the chance to attract students to you during lunch visits or after presenting at a high school or college. Don’t forget to encourage social media engagement using their newly attained swag.  Giveaways not only go a long way to attract attention, but are also great for brand recognition and become free marketing as the students proudly wear, display or post them.

Engage Their Parents

Millennials had helicopter parents, Gen Z have lawn mower parents – they’re flat out paving the way (or so we hear). Parents are more involved in the admission process than ever before. Some counselors even report hosting full families with grandparents on campus visits because as they say “it takes a village”. So, while it’s great to target the student, don’t forget to show some love to the parents through outreach.

Host Lunch and Learns

As we know, the landscape of admission is changing. While the majority of schools are still appealing mostly to the traditional student, the non-traditional population is an increasing market. Try reaching out to local businesses or alumni around the area to host a lunch and learn. Have guests RSVP in advance and provide food (sandwich boxes are easy and affordable). Use the hour to talk about programs relevant to their field and experiences. Tip: they likely have students who will soon be searching for a college too, so it’s a win, win.

Don’t get left behind, have fun while engaging students, alumni, counselors, and your community in new ways. Fall travel season will be here before you know it and there will be a whole new cycle to test out these methods on. Remember to think outside the box, explore new opportunities to meet those around you where they are, and don’t forget to let your best resources help you.

Please contact TWG Plus for more tips on successful recruiting, and other ways we can help you hit your enrollment goals.

5 Tips to Combat Summer Melt

‘Summer Melt’ … it’s a term I knew nothing about as a senior in high school, although it was happening all around me. We all daydreamed and speculated in the hallways about what life after high school would bring.  We eagerly discussed moving away from our parents – oh, the freedom! We applied to college after college for varying reasons: campus events, friends we’d make, life experiences we would have, the concentration or major the school specialized in, the amazing location.  For others, it came down to finding the right financial fit and a school we could count on.  We, of course, had no idea that all the colleges we’d applied to and then never enrolled in had, in some way, been counting on us as well.  As the summer after graduation flew past, the last thing on our minds was the colleges we’d applied to but had decided against.

As admission professionals, this drop of college-intending students (those that apply then drop out of the enrollment funnel between graduation and the start of fall classes) commonly referred to as ‘Summer Melt’ has a significant impact on institutions.  There are a variety of reasons why this happens ranging from financial aid falling through or lack of support or guidance, to difficulties in the logistics of actually attending college.  The students who once had a bevy of friends around them to urge them forward – guidance counselors, financial aid advisors, teachers with their interests in mind – suddenly find themselves navigating the next steps alone.  The entire support network that had surrounded them is gone.  One Harvard study noted that between 10 and 40 percent of students melt away in the summer months. This melt is even more prevalent in low-income communities.  That is a difficult number for an institution to justify.  Luckily, there are 5 tips that institutions can apply to lessen the blow and cool the melt.

1. Transition Programs

Often referred to as “Launch to College” events, transition programs bring alumni, current students, financial aid officers, and college representatives together to encourage and aid in the transition from high school graduation to college.

2. Comm Flows

Keep open lines of communication and continue to build student engagement and excitement about their choice to attend your college.  A skilled Higher Education marketing company such as TWG Plus can help launch an anti-melt campaign to seamlessly continue the dialogue with your students.

3. Specialized Teams

Create an internal team of people to reach out personally to each student to ensure their questions are answered, they know where to find resources to help them, and they are talked through processes that can hinder their movement forward.

4. Leverage School Counselors

Some institutions are hiring guidance counselors on a contract basis to continue their support to incoming students throughout the summer months.

5. Analyze your Data

Know what the rates of summer melt are among your students and the trends among them. Consider employing a company such as TWG Plus to conduct research of prospective and current students to gauge where the students are dropping and why.  Detailed analysis will show you exactly where and when to focus your anti-melt strategies.

Any of the above tips will yield positive results for both your institution and your students.  A combination will bring you close to your enrollment goals.

For more information on Summer Melt, Research, or hitting your enrollment goals, please reach out to us at info@twgplus.com