GPRS Higher Education Marketing Agency


GPRS Higher Education Marketing Agency

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Insights from the Higher Ed Experts

BY Anthony Campisi | August 28th, 2019

3 tips to push past misconceptions and launch your new online program

Online program managementIf your school is facing the challenge of launching your first online program or expanding one, the next steps are not for the faint of heart. Regardless of your role: marketing, product development, recruiting or instructor, growing pains are inevitable. Read on to discover common challenges and some tips for overcoming them.

Internal pushback

Whether your school is innovative or rooted in deep tradition and slow to change, it is likely that someone (or many people) will oppose this shift. If it’s different from the way you’ve done things in the past, there will be resistance. But the truth is, online education is quickly becoming less of a trend and more of a mainstay. There is a way to do both; so focusing on that can really help push through some of the barriers.

So much competition

Let’s address some misconceptions. Institutions tend to think that going “online” can be overwhelming because it changes their entire market. Should you begin marketing in Australia, Greenland and Europe? Should you hire a translator to write all of your content in Japanese? How will you compete with the online education goliaths?

Relax. Trends have shown that although online programs do give you more opportunities to reach more people, it is more likely that you will have your best luck with your current geographic target where your brand is already well known. This is a great starting point and you can slowly expand your geography by 100 miles or so to see when the demand tops off, and then gradually pull back to achieve a balance.

The question of “how?”

Online content is very different from content that is delivered in person. A fair amount of work can go into converting existing content into an online format, building new content that keeps students engaged and making sure it still aligns with your brand. And then there are the questions about marketing, recruiting and cost structure, to name a few. As you are delving into the deep questions, you’ll need an experienced partner to help you plan, and help ensure success.

For schools looking to launch a new online program, expand existing ones, or possibly transition away from a traditional Online Program Manager (OPM), GPRS offers de-coupled services to help you accelerate growth and market programs. With powerful lead generation services, as well as call center solutions, we can help you increase market awareness while building a steady stream of qualified candidates, and enrollments. Contact GPRS today to learn more.


Insights from the Higher Ed Experts

BY Anthony Campisi | August 15th, 2019

Connecting with prospective students

Connecting with prospective studentsAre you overloaded trying to keep up with all of your prospects? The right tactics, and the right partner, can help you optimize the middle of your recruitment funnel for greater enrollment results.

Your admissions staff is the first point of contact for most prospective students and follow-up time is crucial for making that first impression a positive one. In our 24/7 world, leads are expecting their schools of choice to be “always on.” So how do you balance your leads’ demand for instant communication with your recruiting team’s bandwidth?

If you’re concerned (and you should be) about asking your team to respond to texts, calls and emails at 3 a.m., here are a few tips to lighten the load as you prepare for your next big recruiting wave.

Automated (personal) emails

You’ve probably done it – you’ve signed up for a newsletter, entered a sweepstakes or requested more info about a product. You check your inbox and hit refresh. You refresh again. Where is your confirmation email? Did you accidentally type the wrong info? Did your email go into a black hole? Should you try again? These are things that you never want your prospective students to wonder, especially when they are considering a high-dollar purchase (your degree program).

When you have an automated email campaign that spurs an immediate response from your school, the prospect is immediately gratified and will be less likely to regret taking that first step to inquire. Your first email doesn’t have the be fancy or even include a ton of information. Just a quick note to acknowledge them and let them know you’ll be following up with them soon will go a long way. Here are some tips on creating a custom email campaign using your CRM.

Text or phone call follow-up

Here’s where your admissions team can experience a backlog if your volume is too high. Voicemails and requests for information can pile up quickly and it may take some extra resources to help get back on track. Using a contact center can help by screening applicants, categorizing requests and handing off qualified leads when appropriate. And when they take the time to get to know the ins and outs of your school’s recruiting process, they can align communications with your brand and handoff prospects to your recruiting team seamlessly, giving you more time to focus on pulling them through the funnel.

Real-time tracking

When you are using resources like automated email and a contact center to engage with your prospects on an ongoing basis, tracking is critical. Not only do you want to monitor communications, but you also want to keep a close eye on what’s performing well so that you can continue to optimize. When you are searching for a contact center to use, just make sure they can help you track communications and integrate with your CRM for real-time data collection.

If you’re looking for resources to improve your customer experience, GPRS can help. Our contact center provides both inbound and outbound coverage for your program inquiries, as well as timely email follow-up. We use state-of-the-art technology with real-time call monitoring and recording capabilities to ensure our team is consistently an extension of yours. And we can enter every communication directly into your existing CRM for seamless handoffs to internal staff at the perfect time. Contact GPRS today to learn more.


Insights from the Higher Ed Experts

BY Anthony Campisi | July 31st, 2019

Marketing approaches: Key differences in marketing executive education vs. degree programs

Marketing approaches: Key differences in marketing executive education vs. degree programsCan you use the same marketing campaign, channels and budget to market your degree programs and executive education? You can, but you may not be thrilled with the results.

The truth is, although both leverage your brand and aim to educate students, these audiences differ quite a bit and so should your approach to communicating with them. Besides the demographics, here are a few key points of differentiation that are important to consider when crafting your marketing strategy for these unique groups.


Although this seems obvious, when you are asking someone to invest $2,000 in a program vs. $100,000, you can benefit from different messaging strategies. Here’s how you can address the cost difference:

  • Executive Education: focus on the immediate benefits like sharpened skills, applicable case studies, and resume boosters
  • Degree Programs: tout the long term benefits like network, strategic vision and upward mobility

Investment of Time

A 2-3 day program or online course takes less planning for than a 1-2 year commitment. Here’s how you can address the time investment difference:

  • Executive Education: make it easy for them to come to your program, give them enough notice so they can ask their manager for a couple of days to attend a training and emphasize immediate rewards
  • Degree Programs: address the barriers to their time commitment like family and career and assure them it will pay off in the long-run

Decision Cycle

Because of the cost and time investment, the decision-making process can either be quick or something they consider for up to 5 years. Here’s how you can stay integrated into their decision cycle:

  • Executive Education: stay top-of-mind, promote your calendar, and offer thought leadership and value-added content throughout the year so that when it’s time for them to act, you’re the first choice
  • Degree Programs: depending on the program, lead cycle time can vary greatly; be sure to stay in their consideration set with these tips


What motivates a working professional to attend a short program may be completely different from the goals of someone considering a degree program. Here’s how you can address different motivation sets.

  • Executive Education: focus on the immediate need to fill a skill gap and sell the return on investment for the employee and the organization (it is often the talent manager or supervisor helping make the decision)
  • Degree Programs: emphasize the long-term benefits, career trajectory, network and the return on investment

If you’re looking for more ways to hone in on your strategy for promoting a variety of programs at your school, GPRS can help. Leverage our long-term partnerships with universities in both the degree and executive education spaces to create a solid marketing plan that can address these unique audiences.


Insights from the Higher Ed Experts

BY Anthony Campisi | July 12th, 2019

Ways to track your marketing spend, optimize your campaigns and find an ROI for your graduate student recruitment campaigns

ROI graduate student recruitment campaignsOne of the biggest questions that universities have about their marketing is related to its effectiveness. How do you know if your marketing spend is making a difference?

If you’re not sure if your recent spike or dip in interest, leads or applicants is related to your advertising, the competition, the economy or something else, you’re not alone. Gauging peaks and valleys and determining the root causes of what’s going on in your funnel can be difficult and often cryptic. Assuming that your marketing campaign is based on a sound strategy and tied to your enrollment goals, the next most important thing you can do related to your spend is to track it carefully so you can use data to optimize your campaigns for greater success.

But what data should you be looking at to gauge ROI? Here are the key metrics that can determine if your efforts are moving the needle.

Digital advertising is measured in 3 key ways (that matter to you): Cost per Click (CPC), Cost per Lead (CPL) and Cost per Acquisition (CPA) – or seated student. This translates to: how much did you spend to get someone to click on your ad, convert into a lead, and then turn into a seated student?

In higher ed digital advertising, you often can’t get a true CPA until you have your final seated class. At that point, you can do a match-back process utilizing your reporting dashboard to see how many seated students came from your marketing. But since that may happen at the end of the year, the CPC and CPL are what you should be measuring and optimizing throughout your recruiting season.

Your digital agency will know what is typical by channel (i.e. LinkedIn vs. Facebook vs. retargeting) and can advise you on whether your campaigns are working or need to be adjusted – monthly, weekly or even daily. It is typical to start with a higher CPC which will lower as your campaign becomes more efficient. This often translates to a lower CPL because the people who are clicking on your ads are more qualified leads.

If you take it a step further and use a sophisticated campaign optimization platform that ties in with your CRM and aggregates all of the data in real time, you can get even smarter with your spend. When you can track every program inquiry back to not only a specific marketing campaign, but also to a particular image, message and ad size, you can powerfully optimize your campaigns and match your enrollment data back to your marketing efforts to prove ROI at the end of the year.

If you’re looking for an agency that is well-versed in digital campaign optimizations, GPRS is your partner. Our proprietary lead optimization system, GP InsightsTM, shows your real-time campaign data and can even display industry benchmark data showing how your peers and competition are trending. Give us a call and we’ll be happy to give you a demo.


Insights from the Higher Ed Experts

BY Anthony Campisi | June 26th, 2019

Enrollment Marketing: The value of digital strategy from a specialized firm

Enrollment Marketing: The value of digital strategy from a specialized firm.In most retail or consumer goods businesses, a good digital agency will be successful in helping meet revenue goals. But finding a firm that has experience in education and enrollment marketing is taking it a step further. Higher ed is a definite “niche market” and working with a firm that is both qualified in digital advertising AND has education expertise is key to success.

Here are a few insights on how to select an agency to help you with your enrollment goals.

They’ve been around the block (with a solid and varied education client roster)

You recognize their past clients. You may have even seen some of their recent work. Although digital marketing is all about innovation and new tactics, it’s important to select a firm that’s been doing this for a while. They can spot a good opportunity and weed out the bad ones. They’ve “been there done that” and can share new perspectives in your strategy sessions based on their breadth and depth of knowledge on how to meet enrollment goals.

They can prove their results (think case studies)

When you ask them about past results, they readily respond with client testimonials and proven ROI. The firms that you want to work with to fulfill your enrollment goals have done this for other schools and they’re proud of their results. You might be the next client they use for a case study!

Your peers know about them (and recommend them)

The last time you were at a conference, connecting with your peers from other schools, this firm may have come up in conversation. Nothing speaks more strongly than a recommendation from a peer. It’s likely that if the admissions director or CMO at a peer school is singing their praises, there’s something worth looking into.

They have their roots in education (although they may serve other industries)

Starting with retail or consumer goods and then backing into education is very different than originating in the higher ed space. You don’t want to be the guinea pig. Chances are, if they haven’t had an education client before, or have only worked with one or two, you’ll be paying heavily for their learning curve. Instead, look for a firm that has a strong background in your space and understands the sales funnel for prospective students. This is especially true with the specialized niche of graduate programs.

If you’re looking for an agency that has all 4 of the criteria listed above, GPRS is your ideal partner. Give us a call and we’ll be happy to share those case studies with you.


Insights from the Higher Ed Experts

BY Anthony Campisi | June 12th, 2019

Navigating the Generational Divide: Communicating to Prospects

Navigating the Generational Divide: Communicating to ProspectsBaby boomers. Gen X. Millennials. Each generation has different value sets, core motivations and media consumption habits. Make the most of your communications to each group, and bridge the gap with some universal messaging that applies to all.

Millennials are in the work force and Boomers are slowly starting to transition out of the professional landscape. You’ve been inundated with information about how these groups consume information. But how do you handle communications when you’re marketing a program that may include more than one generation?

Universal Messaging

Marketers can go crazy trying to integrate the buzz words that are important to different market segments. Make sure you don’t offend anyone. Use the right mix of humor. Try to include data that is relevant to a certain career stage, or you’ll lose them. If your head is spinning, wondering how you can stay relevant, consider this – there are some universal messages in education that cut through any generational divide. Those are:

  • Value – Who wants to pay more than something is worth?
  • Return on investment – Most people are looking for a payoff on the time and money they’ve spent.
  • Personal connections – We are all human. Relationships matter. Make sure your prospects know you care and are available to help them.
  • Flexibility – Regardless of career or life stage, we can all use a little more time and control over our schedule to focus on things that are important to us.

Communication Tracks

In a recent blog, we discussed using segmentation to bucket your communication strategies. One way to do this is to segment by age group. For emails, if you have birthdate or years of work experience, you might be able to use that knowledge to craft different messages aimed at core motivations. For advertising and social media, you can depend on certain channels. Check out this infographic showing media consumption habits across generations.

Event Strategy

Wondering why your Preview Day attendance has dropped? Thinking about trying a webinar for the first time? Are you open to testing new types of events? What worked 10 years ago to market an Executive MBA program at a 3 hour event on a Saturday may not yield the same response today. Why? Because when you were marketing your program 10 years ago it was to Boomers who may have been amenable to that type of event. But now, you’re marketing to GenX and even some ambitious Millennials. They don’t have the time to attend this event, although they would attend class if they were accepted to the program. These generations are less likely to invest time in something that is not a sure thing.

Bottom line: Innovation can work in your favor. Try a webinar or a coffee chat. Hold an info session at a restaurant near a business park. You can still keep your favorite events, but it can’t hurt to add new ones to the mix.

Marketing Materials

Have you checked out your competition online recently? You may be surprised at what materials they are offering to prospective students. In an age where the website is king, even supplemental information is shifting. Standard brochures are morphing into videos and blogs. Photo albums are now social feeds.

If you’re looking for ways to innovate to connect with your target, we can help. Get tips to engage prospects on their terms so you can get the most from your communications strategies. Contact GPRS.


Insights from the Higher Ed Experts

BY Anthony Campisi | June 11th, 2019

Pattern matching: The 10 most important marketing and recruiting insights derived from working across 120 graduate business programs

The 10 Most Important Marketing and Recruiting InsightsEighteen years and more than 120 different graduate business programs.

Do we have your attention?

Our first-hand experiences have unearthed a treasure of insights. And, here’s a unique opportunity for you to take a peek inside. Join Graduate Program Recruitment Solutions (GPRS) President of University Partnerships, Anthony Campisi, at the 2019 GMAC Annual Conference as he gives you a rare look at how to enable your graduate programs to thrive, even during challenging times.

From June 19-21 in Denver, CO, hundreds of industry professionals will converge to share ideas, trends and best practices at the Graduate Management Admissions Council’s 2019 Annual Conference. Complete your stay in the mile-high city with Anthony on Friday, June 21st, from 8:30am – 9:45am, as he presents insights developed working with top graduate programs.

Session Title:

Pattern Matching: The 10 Most Important Marketing and Recruiting Insights Derived from Working across 120 Graduate Business Programs

Session Description:

In this session you will have the unique opportunity to explore the top 10 marketing and recruiting trends that have led to enrollment success across more than 120 different graduate business programs, including MBA, EMBA, Working Professionals, Specialty Masters and Online programs.

Patterns that have emerged time and time again, leading to increased program inquiries, diversification in applicant pool and higher matriculation yield rates.

You will learn:

• What type of content encourages more women to apply to graduate programs
• How many form fields is the sweet spot for an information request form
• You may be closer to an enrollment with your older leads than you are with your newer ones
• To tone down your “calls to action”
• The truth about which geographies online programs are most successful in
• Who your biggest competitor is – spoiler alert – it’s none of the schools you think!

Expect to leave this session with insights that will exponentially increase your market penetration.


Insights from the Higher Ed Experts

BY Anthony Campisi | May 29th, 2019

Maximizing CRM: Unique communications tracks, content and frequency

Maximizing CRM: Unique communications tracks, content and frequencyCustomer Relationship Management. There are platforms designed around this idea, but even if you don’t have a formal platform, but rather a process, every B-school can benefit from a communications map to keep leads and prospects engaged.

Find out how you can manage your relationships with prospective students using different communications tracks, content and frequency.

Communications Tracks

Once a lead enters into your system, you’ve likely obtained some key information that will help you tailor the messages you send them. Or, if they entered in through a short info request form, you can always follow up to find out more about them. These demographics can be considered as you segment your messaging:

  • Gender
  • Geographic location
  • Specialty groups: military, healthcare, etc.
  • Program of interest
  • Entry year
  • Title
  • Industry
  • Age

When you know any or all of these aspects of a person’s background, you can assign them into a “track” within your communications map that is in addition to the general communications track that everyone receives. For example, if you are located in Michigan and you’re offering information sessions in Ohio, it probably makes sense to tell prospects from Ohio that you’ll be in their area with a personal message. Or, if you are offering a military scholarship, consider sending out a separate communications flow to the military applicants in your pool. In addition, you can further segment messaging based on industries like healthcare or IT to communicate the benefits of your program.

Content Variation

Not everyone responds the same to the same message. Just as we discussed above, you have a melting pot of people in your funnel and they are all looking for different things. Once you’ve determined your communications tracks, you can decide on the content. For the general communications track that everyone receives, you can use program features & benefits, ROI and admissions criteria & events. Once you start digging into your segmentation, try to focus on the core motivations of each sub-group. Here are some examples:

  • For gender-tailored content, consider:
    • Women: climb the corporate ladder, flexibility, lead with confidence, advance your pay scale, collaborative environment that values your talents
    • Men: prepare yourself for leadership, powerfully elevate your career, make an impact, become a dealmaker, reposition your career, solidify your advancement
  • For age differences, consider:
    • Millennials: be transparent, get to the point, focus on their goals and community
    • Gen X: include data, emphasize results, stay away from clichés
    • Boomers: try clever humor, focus on how you can make their lives better
  • For industry ideas, consider messaging targeted at how your program can impact those in these fields/stages of career:
    • Healthcare
    • Entrepreneurs
    • Executives vs. career launchers
    • IT
    • Strategy
    • Marketing
    • Finance

The goal here is to focus on what motivates these segments and fine-tune your messaging to connect with them.


While some prospects are hyper-engaged and ready to act right now, there are others who are just starting their search and want to “browse.” So how do you strike the balance of giving everyone what they need, when they need it, but not turning them off? The answer is a structured plan. Even for the hottest prospects, you want to be sure you’re not coming on too strong.

For all prospects, consider an email campaign, or a communications map that is auto-triggered to send messages every 10 days (following lead entrance into the system). For the active leads, you can layer on a calling or text campaign. In addition, you may consider mailings, i.e. sending your brochure, a postcard with events (although these may be hard to track). Also, don’t discount the power of social media. This is a great supplement to the communications you’re sending because the prospects can consume this information on their terms, giving them the feeling of control. If they are following you, it is likely that they are seeing what you’re posting every 1-3 days. Be sure to vary your content, and also be aware of what you’re posting on social to reduce duplication.

By mapping out your communications, considering your audience’s motivations and varying your frequency, you can find ways to connect with your prospects on their terms.

Find out more about how to engage prospects with email nurture campaigns through your CRM platform. Contact GPRS.


Insights from the Higher Ed Experts

BY Anthony Campisi | May 14th, 2019

Recruiting: The middle of the funnel – who’s responsible?

Recruiting middle of the funnel tug of warIf you’re in B-school admissions or marketing, you’re familiar with the common push-pull of who’s responsible for filling your next class.

Hey, we’re all on the same team, right? Then why does it sometimes feel divisive when it’s time to assign accountability for a waning class size, or take credit for an overflowing classroom on day 1? Let’s talk about where the most important action happens – the middle of the funnel.

Admissions Team

You’ve collaborated with marketing on a strategy to bring leads into the top of the funnel. You’ve stated your goals, approved a plan, and you’re gaining traction. Your pool of leads may be growing and your admissions events have attendees. You’re ready for them to apply – NOW! After all, they showed up, called you or filled out a form – they must be interested right? Here’s where the questions begin:

  • If we spent money to bring them in and they’re not applying, are they the right leads?
  • Did marketing lead us astray on strategy? Should they be doing more emails/advertising/InMails/billboards/radio? (Fear not, marketing folk, we’ll get to you.)
  • Is our database stale?
  • Is the competition eating our lunch?

All of these things (and more) are possible, however, consider asking these questions about your prospects, instead:

  • What barriers do they have and how can I address them?
  • How could I get them to interact with my school, either on-campus or online?
  • Could I connect with them (beyond email) in a meaningful way?
  • Could I collaborate with my team or my agency to develop a calling campaign, email campaign, mailing or webinar series to engage those that have been stagnant?
  • Is there any content I could share with them that would be interesting and compelling, i.e. video or a professor’s recent book?

The goal here is to focus less on “what went wrong” prematurely and more on how you can help your prospects make a decision. With a different approach, you may be surprised at how much action you can spur, pulling them through the murky waters of the middle funnel and down to the bottom where you’re ready for them.

Marketing Team

You’ve done your job. You’ve developed a marketing strategy, your advertising is filling admissions events, you’re tracking activity on your dashboard, and you’re seeing an uptick in YOY leads. So why are applications down? Here’s where the questions begin:

  • How is admissions following up with the leads I generated for them?
  • What is happening at admissions events if no one is applying?
  • Do I need to ask for more advertising budget?
  • What is the competition doing that we’re not?

All of these things (and more) are valid, however, consider asking these questions about your prospects, instead:

  • What barriers do they have and how can I address them?
  • How could I get them to interact with my school, either on-campus or online?
  • Could I connect with them (beyond email) in a meaningful way?
  • Could I collaborate with my team or my agency to develop a calling campaign, email campaign, mailing or webinar series to engage those that have been stagnant?
  • Is there any content I could share with them that would be interesting and compelling, i.e. video or a professor’s recent book?

So, you see, the second set of questions is the same for both teams, implying the need for a paradigm shift in how you think about the middle funnel. If you can collaborate and share the responsibility, you can also share the victory.

Find out more about how to engage prospects in the middle of the funnel with digital marketing or contact center solutions. Contact GPRS.


Insights from the Higher Ed Experts

BY Anthony Campisi | April 30th, 2019

How long does it take for a prospective student to choose to enroll in a graduate program?

Lead Cycle Time for Prospective Student to EnrollIt’s been a year, or two, or 5. Are they still considering continuing their education, did they already complete another program or did they give up the dream?

For some graduate programs, there is fixed window for decisions, while others have a longer lifecycle. Let’s examine typical cycle time from shortest to longest.

1-Year Masters (After Undergrad)

You probably have a year (or 2 max) to catch these students’ attention. They are either super-motivated juniors who are planning their future or exasperated seniors who need to bolster their undergraduate degree to launch a career. If they’ve been in your funnel for over 2 years, it’s worth an email to ask if they’d still like to hear from you.


Typical lead cycle time for an MBA is 2-3 years. Often, these early career professionals realize after graduating and working for a couple years, that: 1) they don’t like their career choice and need to shift, or 2) they need a broader perspective to move into a leadership role. From this point, it could take a couple of years to prep for an admissions test, find a school and determine the right timing. They have more life decisions at play than a graduating senior, but less than a senior executive. Once they’ve signed up to take a GMAT, you likely have less than 2 years because they will be hit by every school in the country that purchases names of test takers.


Working professionals and aspiring executives who are considering an Executive MBA could be in your funnel up to 5, maybe even 7 years. There are some who know that they want to continue their education, and they want you to keep reminding them (which is why they signed up in the first place and haven’t opted out). There are some that are struggling with barriers like career trajectory, family and personal issues. And for global programs where travel is required, it can be even more difficult to work themselves into a work situation where a boss will give them the time off to pursue a degree. And then there are those who are lifelong learners who may actually be getting another degree in the meantime (yes, this happens). Give them the time they need to make the decision and do all you can to address their concerns. Even though they may seem distant, it’s possible that your messages are getting through and they’ll act when they hear the right one.

Executive Education (Ongoing)

Early-, mid- or late-career professionals and executives either need to fill a knowledge gap right away, or they are pursuing continuing education which means they are always ripe for picking a new program if your offerings coincide with their needs. For this audience, recency and relevance is key because when they’re ready to move, you need to be top of mind.


Prospective students of all career levels that are considering an online education fall in 2 camps. They either need a degree right away to get them to the next level, or they have time to decide and they are banking on ultimate flexibility. While proliferation of online degree programs is up and other free online education options are widely available, give these prospects the most leeway so you don’t lose them.

Find out more about how to engage prospects at different stages of the decision-making process. Contact GPRS.



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For over two decades, GPRS has been a trusted higher education marketing agency, offering custom solutions to institutions of all sizes and degree types. Admissions directors, marketing directors, deans, and presidents rely on GPRS to provide a depth of services, including strategy, lead generation, digital marketing, nurture communications, recruiting, and analytics.

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