Five solutions for colleges and universities to hit their enrollment targets and profitably scale in 2023

October 5, 2022

Enrollment is down, again

Community colleges, universities, and graduate schools are all having an exceedingly hard time reaching and engaging prospective students. It’s becoming increasingly difficult for these institutions to hit their enrollment targets. Admissions figures have declined for nearly a decade, dropping 4.7% in spring 2022 vs. spring 2021.

Shifting demographics, recruitment competition, and skepticism about the overall value and rising cost of education versus higher-paying jobs that may not require a college degree are all significant factors in enrollment decline.

On top of these economic factors, students’ expectations are rising. More and more students expect an integrated, personalized experience when deciding what school is the right choice for them. This means building an acquisition journey that answers their questions with digital content but will also support a robust online-to-offline conversion experience to support the prospective student’s decision-making process.

5 Solutions to increase reach and hit your enrollment targets:

1. Optimize the journey with a multi-channel & multi-touch approach

Embarking on the higher education journey is a tough decision that takes students months to make. Once a prospect interacts with your content or expresses interest in applying, you must consistently nurture them multiple times through email, SMS, AND phone calls.

How are you currently engaging and nurturing your prospective students until they enroll?

2. Re-engage prospects that have fallen out of your funnel

We already know that just because a prospective student expresses interest in your school doesn’t mean they’ll apply to be a student. Plus, most students are not exclusively considering just one school. Just because they have not responded to your email or applied to be a student yet should not hold you back from testing different messages and channels until they stick.

How are you managing your current database of leads? Are you attempting to reach prospective students that have “gone dark”?

3. Create full-funnel visibility

With rising media costs and a shrinking pool of student candidates, you must know where every marketing dollar is going and how they contribute to generating applications and enrollments. Maximizing your media budget means connecting your ad platforms (Google, Facebook, LinkedIn) and your internal systems to build ‘full-funnel visibility.’

How effective is your media spend? Are you spending the right amount of dollars to serve ads to the best audience possible?

4. Tap into affiliate partnerships

Building on the last point, affiliate programs often offer a higher return on investment than traditional paid advertising and give you better access to the pool of qualified prospects you want to engage. It is essential to research which affiliate programs will fit best, but failing to utilize any affiliate marketing will leave too many prospects on the table for your competitors to enroll.

Are you currently utilizing an affiliate marketing strategy? If so, are you achieving your target unit economics?

5. Don’t forget about your current students

As colleges and universities develop their curriculums and offer new programs, your current students (or your best customers) must be the first to know. Making them feel prioritized and appreciated will be a driving force for increased reach and conversions.

How are prospects and students currently notified of university changes/updates or new programs/ classes they’re qualified for?

Solving the challenge of increasing your reach and enrolling more students year over year may be a steep, uphill battle, but it is 100% feasible. We know this because, for over 17 years, we have helped universities and online institutions conquer the same challenge by improving their qualification process and helping our clients achieve their student enrollment targets.

Let us know if you have any questions or would like to explore opportunities to profitably scale with LQ Digital by filling out the form below:

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