One of the primary tasks of an online enrollment manager is to pique interest in your programs and generate high quality inquiries. You know, the type of student inquiry who will make the faculty happy by being eager, engaged and excellent in the virtual classroom; the type of person that will satisfy the Vice President of Finance by paying her bill in full and on time; and the learner who will make you pleased because it didn't cost you a fortune to market to and recruit her.
Of course, the best type of inquiries that make you and your colleagues happy are 'organic' or self-initiated inquiries, as they tend to be the students that convert at the highest rates, perform better in the classroom and are more likely to graduate. Unfortunately, for those institutions with a less than well-known brand or relatively undifferentiated programs this can be tough. Luckily, there is a phenomenon that we call the Halo Effect of Higher Education Online Marketing that enrollment managers can use to increase the number of organic inquiries. This post describes how the Halo Effect works and how you can use it to your advantage.
Online Consumer Behavior
First, let us describe and reflect on how many people shop online for things like for consumer goods, cars, or hotel rooms. Many of us use the web to shop around, get opinions from others and utilize niche websites that provide comparisons for us.
Consider an example like shopping for a new car. You might use cars.com, edmunds.com, or autotrader.com to review and research cars, but when it is time to make a purchase you will probably visit one of the automobile dealers near you. While you could buy a car online, it is unlikely that you will do so.
Similarly, consider how Enrollment Builders personnel use the web to make hotel reservations. When we are traveling to a new city and will be staying overnight we often use the Google maps feature to identify hotels near the campus we are visiting. We then find ones that are close, reasonably priced and are rated well by other folks who have stayed there in the past. It is a great way to find a hotel quickly, efficiently and free. But when it is time to book the room we rarely use the third-party marketing company's site to book the room. Instead, we go straight to the hotel website, verify the rate we found online, and then book directly through the hotel. We cut out the middle man.
Prospective Students and Online Education Stores
What we described above is exactly what happens with prospective students shopping for an online degree program. They use the web to narrow their search, compare program features and get opinions from others. However, there are many prospective students who prefer not to give their personal information to any website with a .com suffix while searching for information on colleges. Sure, these prospective students will use popular educational directories, college search properties and 'online education stores'; but many students will only give personal data and request information from a website with .edu at the end of the domain name.
The Halo Effect of Higher Education Online Marketing
Time after time, after we advise our clients to enter into marketing partnerships in a cost per inquiry (CPI) pricing model we experience a concurrent increase in the number of organic inquiries. We also advise clients to ask students where they heard about the institution on the application for admission. Often, students will cite web properties like eLearners.com, ClassesUSA.com, or AllStarDirectries.com. Hence, this is what we call the Halo Effect of Higher Education Online Marketing.
It is quite simple. As the number of marketing partners increases so does the number of student initiated inquiries. As the marketing spend increases, so does the number of paid inquiries AND 'free inquiries'.
Sure, many students will request information directly from the marketing partners. And when they do you will have to pay a fee of anywhere from $20 to $120 for that inquiry. However, there will be many prospective students who leave those .com sites, visit your .edu pages and submit their inquiry information through your institutional inquiry form. Better yet, others will pick up the phone and call.
So how can your institution take advantage of this form of consumer behavior? What can you do to increase your organic inquiries? Give us a call at 513-518-7824 or request information to learn more about the Halo Effect of Higher Education Online Marketing and how to increase the size of the inquiry pool at your institution.