Insights from the Higher Ed Experts

BY Anthony Campisi | October 15th, 2020

Finding ways to evaluate last year’s marketing effectiveness

Finding ways to evaluate last year’s marketing effectivenessHow do you evaluate marketing effectiveness and enrollment in a year where benchmarks are out the window?

Before you begin planning for the upcoming recruiting year, you may be staring down the seemingly impossible task of evaluating last year’s enrollment goals and marketing plan effectiveness.

The 2019-2020 cycle may seem like a blur as you tackle questions about spending, engagement, quality leads, yield, cost-per-seated student and enrollment goals. How do you determine what worked and what didn’t in a year where everything turned upside down?

Here are a few ideas on where to start.

Break the year into segments

For this exercise, we will focus on a recruiting year that runs August-July. Feel free to adjust based on your start date, or if you have additional cohorts.

Consider for a moment, that there were approximately eight months (August – March) that were—for all intents and purposes—“normal.” If you are benchmarking YOY data on spending and leads, breaking the year up this way will help you apply a lens for comparison. Using your CRM, you can also match up leads from that period to enrollments and determine a cost-per-seated student.

For the four months that followed (April – July), benchmarks were sidelined in favor of adjusted enrollment goals, spending reallocations and altered recruiting strategies. Now is a good time to revisit those adjustments and plans you made to see if you reached any of those goals. Realize that goals were a moving target and celebrate even small victories or accomplishments.

Evaluate how you pivoted, throw out the benchmarks

This past year was a time of uncertainty and adjustment. You were forced to alter your plans in ways you’ve never been asked to do, during your key recruiting period. On the road events? Cancelled. Campus tours, preview days and interviews? Moved online. Digital advertising strategy designed to bring in leads? Halted or altered.

When you look back on the ways you pivoted your marketing and recruitment strategy at warp speed, were you moving so fast that you forgot to keep track?

Now is a great time to jot down these alterations so you can chart your successes and incorporate them into planning for the upcoming year.

  • What platforms worked best for virtual events?
  • What social content got the highest engagement?
  • What types of events had the most attendees?
  • What did yield look like?
  • What were the best ways to personally connect with prospective students?
  • What did your website traffic look like (both YOY and pre-COVID to post)?

Jogging your memory now and keeping track of the things you changed can help you track your successes and incorporate them into the upcoming year.

Look at the final results in context and celebrate successes

Often, marketing and recruiting success is evaluated in black and white terms: Did you meet your enrollment goals? What was your cost-per-seated student? How did digital advertising fare in terms of CPL?

Although using a tracking method to evaluate these benchmarks at key points during the year can certainly give you a window into how well your plan worked, it’s also important to look at the results in context.

And in terms of planning for the future, this may be the time to create new benchmarks that are adjustable to the market and your prospective students’ needs.

Need help?

Navigating the evaluation process and planning upcoming recruiting cycle will be challenging this year. If you need help charting your successes and creating a realistic recruiting plan that can help you gain more quality leads and seated students next year, GPRS can help.