To anyone who has been reading this blog for any amount of time the headline here isn’t anything new. We might have felt this way for years, but a new report by CUnet finally gives us the data we have been looking for to support our gut feeling.
This report has some very revealing numbers, like 70% of respondents don’t actively monitor cost per enrollment or aren’t sure if it’s done. The report does give us four main trends that aren’t all that surprising to anyone watching the industry.
Trend One: Traditional marketing methods are no longer enough
I don’t think it is a surprise to anyone that direct mail or print campaigns only get you halfway there in 2012. Over half the schools report that they will be maintaining current spending levels and on specific channels a small percent reported increasing or decreasing. You can view the report to get into all the specifics.
Trend Two: There is room for growth in online program enrollment
We’ve talked on this blog before about how online education is changing the game. What the report dug deeper into is only 58% of non-profit schools report any form of online program enrollment. Almost half of the schools surveyed haven’t addressed this market at all. I think there is a place for schools that only offer in person classes but that segment is shrinking. Is this 42% refusing to believe the massive change in education that is happening, or are we giving too much credit to online classes?
Trend Three: Schools are investing heavily in online marketing
This trend is a natural progression from trend one above. We all talk about social media marketing, but I was happy to see other disciplines discussed in this report. I’m sure that has a lot to do with the services that CUnet offers, but I honestly wish that marketing professionals in higher education discussed SEO, Paid Search and Online Display Ads more frequently. The truth is they not only work but they can be measured!
Trend Four: Getting quality students into seats and keeping them there is a top priority
Retaining existing students really changes the formulas, doesn’t it? It is much cheaper to retain an existing student for another year or more than it is to replace them. Let’s be honest, it also doesn’t hurt that our US News & World Report’s annual college rankings will improve with better retention numbers, and we all know how much everyone religiously lives by those rankings.
I don’t want to take the entire bang from the report by grabbing all the individual metrics. I am glad to see a report that actually translates these important metrics specifically for the higher education market. These sort of reports are quite common for traditional businesses thanks to the MarketingSherpa’s of the world, but I don’t feel like the higher ed community has important discussions around the cold hard business metrics enough. Colleges & Universities need to get more analytical and businesslike in their marketing approaches. To me, accepting the fact that traditional marketing isn’t cutting it anymore is step one in this process. It’s getting past the denial phase and realizing we need to start doing something else that works. I personally believe inbound marketing is the solution, but what do you think?
And if you are wondering how to monitor enrollment, you might want to check out the slides I posted on this blog earlier this week or come to my presentation next week at HighEdWeb. I also know this nice little virtual campus tour company that has put together an ROI calculator that is pretty helpful too!