How will Gmail’s new Inbox affect search?: 3 things you can do.

Back in May, Google announced a new tab layout for the Gmail inbox. The company didn’t start rolling the feature out to everyone until mid-July.

The new tabbed interface gives users control over their content by grouping emails under specific topics. For example, notifications from social services like Facebook or Twitter are now automatically sorted under the “Social” tab, while offers from merchants reside under “Promotions.”

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR HIGHER EDUCATION ENROLLMENT MARKETING?

It’s too early to tell precisely how Gmail’s new layout will impact email marketing conducted by colleges and universities. However, we are watching the data closely. We expect some change, but there isn’t enough data yet to determine how much the new inbox will affect marketing efforts.

In the short term, I don’t think that this change will have significant impact on search marketing responses. However, this update is indicative of a well-established, long-term trend towards engaging, student-centric, inbound (read: social media, content, data) marketing. Consumers and students have long had the power to control their content and the inbox is a natural place to raise the barrier between the student and marketers.

HOW CAN YOU ADAPT TO THESE CHANGES?

1) Gmail is not the only game in town. Yahoo and AOL still represent a significant portion of email addresses in student lists. These changes will not affect the response rates for those students who use email software other than Gmail.

2) Search email marketing is just one tool in your toolbox. Students are 
engaging with school websites long before they take the SAT or ACT. You can embrace this trend by producing and monitoring social content that is applicable to your students (current and prospective).

3) Also, take advantage of the responses you do have by incorporating Remarketing into your online strategy. Remarketing allows you to reach people who have already visited your site. It makes sense to spend more time on the students who have shown interest already instead of focusing exclusively on those with whom you are just developing a relationship.

CONCLUSION

These changes from Google will certainly impact Enrollment Marketing, but the jury is still out on exactly how and to what extent. We are analyzing response data so that we can adapt to the shifting technology landscape. In the meantime, there are several tactics that you can adopt to stay up with trends.

Introducing Jessica Shasserre!

We are excited to add Jessica Shasserre to our team! She will be joining us as a Strategic Enrollment Consultant.

Jessica’s experience in higher education spans both public and private universities, managing campus-based recruitment, territory-based regional recruitment, recruitment communications and marketing, and operations oversight. In her six years at Maryville University, she served as Assistant Director of Admissions, Assistant Director for Enrollment Operations, and as Maryville’s first regional recruiter. As the West Coast Regional Director of Admissions for Maryville University, applicants increased by 600% and matriculates increased by 180% in her first year. Prior to her higher education career, Jessica spent three years in commercial advertising and marketing, working primarily on a federal recruitment campaign for the United States military.

Jessica has served on MOACAC’s Executive Board as Technology Chair, as the Webmaster and Technology Chair on the Executive Board for the Regional Association for College Admission Counseling (RACC), and has been an active member in WACAC, PNACAC, TACRAO, and IACAC.

Jessica graduated magna cum laude from Maryville University with a degree in Communication. She resides in St. Louis, Missouri, with her husband, daughter and dog. Beyond her work with TWG Plus, you’ll find Jessica outdoors – camping, hiking, canoeing and enjoying the fresh air.

6 Ways to Reduce Summer Melt

For most of us, the term “summer melt” refers to little more than what happens to an ice cream cone in the sun, and the solution to that is simple. The summer is a time to unwind and enjoy some simple pleasures, like a cone of double chocolate mousse, and to look forward to the school year ahead.  For the admissions professional, the term holds a much different, and much more serious, meaning. The solution is far from simple, and without a good communication plan, the only thing unwinding will be your fall enrollment numbers.

It may be easy to think that summer melt is out of your control; each student has been searched and recruited, visited and applied, and has taken the final commitment step – submission of a reservation deposit. What happens from there is entirely in the student’s hands. Or is it? Here are a few strategies to consider that may just freeze that summer melt.

1) Keep up your comm flow. Be sure to have a well-thought out communication plan for your deposited students. Keep them engaged in what’s happening on your campus, encourage a visit if they haven’t already, and a second visit if they have. Above all, remind them of the reasons they chose your school in the first place.

2) Think like the student, and not from your numbers. Watching your deposit pool translate into an enrolling class may be a numbers game from up above, but don’t forget that each of those deposits is a student, with ideas and expectations of how they should be treated now that they’ve committed to you. More than ever, today’s students know how college admissions works, and they know that you’re as interested in them as they are in you. Reach out to your students, let them know you’re excited that they’ll be on campus, and that you’re happy they chose you.

3) Don’t wait for orientation. Holding an early orientation is a great way to lock in some students’ commitments. Offer incentive for early orientation, and get your freshmen on campus soon after high school graduation. Not only will those students be largely removed from your summer melt worries, they’ll feel connected to your campus and community early on, and will be more comfortable when move-in day comes around.

4) It’s all about the Benjamins. Few factors weigh more heavily on the minds of students – and, more importantly, their parents – than financial aid. Take a close look at the aid packages offered to your deposited and accepted students. Is your discount rate meeting the needs of your incoming class? Also be clear about what communications are coming from the Financial Aid Department. Are your students receiving clear and timely information about their aid package?  Is the Financial Aid comm flow coordinated with Admissions? Is there a Financial Aid comm flow?

5) Don’t forget the parents. Chances are, your students aren’t doing this on their own. Mom and dad are writing the checks, arranging the travel, and driving the entire process. Be sure that you are speaking to your students’ influencers throughout, and certainly do not forget about them once their deposit check has been received. Devise a communication plan specifically for parents, and assure them that they’ve made the right choice.

6) Get social. Your students are on social media, so be sure that you are, too. Create a Facebook page just for your deposited students. There, you can share information about the campus and upcoming events. More importantly, students can begin to interact with each other and start to build excitement about getting together on campus.

Summer melt presents more dangers than losing that extra scoop you wanted on top. Whether you are ahead of pace for deposits, or running behind, every one counts, and every one is a student that you would like to see on campus. Nothing can guarantee that all of your deposited students will matriculate, but by implementing a strong and cohesive communication plan, you have a better chance of turning that messy melt into a manageable drip.

The Truth About Responsive Web Design

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Responsive Web Design. We’ve all heard of it. Let’s pop the hood and take a closer look at what Responsive is, and most importantly, what it is not.

Generally speaking, Responsive is a design and development methodology that has emerged in response to the growing range of screen sizes from mobile phones, tablets, laptops, desktops to large-screen televisions.

For example, you smartphone users out there may notice that sometimes you visit a website on your phone and it simply “shrinks” the entire website to fit on the screen of your phone. You can see the entire website, but you can’t read anything because everything is too small – you have to zoom in and pan around to read the content or use the website. This is a website that has NOT been designed with a Responsive approach. The website is not “responding” to the size of your screen.

In recent years, the common solution has been to design and develop a different user experience for each device. For example, one website suited for the desktop/laptop experience and another site better suited for phones…with the emerging tablet devices getting lost in the middle. We were essentially “redirecting” website visitors based on the type of device they were using. This approach has it’s pros and cons, but has largely yielded to Responsive Web Design.

Responsive Design utilizes a single website (no redirecting to different versions) to serve all screens sizes. When you visit a Responsive website on your smartphone, the layout and content of the site adjust to provide an elegant and usable display without the need to zoom in and pan or scroll. Some of the adjustments it makes are automatically scaling images and fonts, reduced animation, and eliminating noncritical content. Responsive Web Design also has it’s pros and cons, but is quickly becoming the preferred, holistic approach.

In conjunction with Responsive Web Design, standards are shifting toward a Mobile-First Philosophy. Mobile-First Philosophy has developed in response to the saturation of mobile devices which is eclipsing laptop/desktop devices. Mobile-First puts the initial design emphasis on the mobile experience to determine key content and conversation strategies. Starting with the smallest screen size, a single Reponsive website will Progressively Enhance as larger tablet and computer screens allow for more and more supporting content to be present.

With all the buzz building around Responsive Web Design, it wouldn’t be fair to avoid the common misconceptions. While Responsive solves for many obstacles, it comes with its price. Responsive Web Design is not a bolt-on option to an existing website. It’s not a technical trick and, to be effective, it isn’t always easy to implement. Finally, without consideration to content strategy, Responsive Web Design may not increase user response and conversion.

Organizations utilizing a Mobile-First, Responsive approach to optimize for a range of user experiences are effectively future-proofing their web properties and online marketing initiatives against a chaotic digital horizon.