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Marketing and Admissions: Better Together

In many colleges, the offices of admissions, advising and the registrar are grouped together, with marketing operating at a distance — often both literally and figuratively. However, at colleges where marketing and admissions are strongly aligned, the strength of their partnerships is reflected in enrollment.

Not Left to Chance

In talking with partners from both types of colleges, we’ve found that strong relationships between marketing and admissions are not accidental. They take work and intention. Some of the things that help foster good relations include regular check-ins – at least monthly if not more often. They discuss what each needs from the other, then set goals to move forward. Accountability is clear, with all stakeholders understanding who is responsible for what, and when.

Even if you believe your school’s marketing and admissions teams work well together, it can’t hurt to audit who does what, whether each step in the student selection journey is accounted for and, if so, by which team.

One Collegis partner institution decided to try implementing similar relationship-building approaches in 2017. In Fall of 2018, its marketing and admissions teams shared with Collegis that it wasn’t long before they began to see improved outcomes in enrollment.

Commenting on the changes, the team relayed that their processes were running more smoothly and that the changes they made have resulted in faster enrollment times for applicants.  

Too often, a college will put forth a robust marketing campaign only to find that admissions has been left out of the conversation. In today’s digital world, prospective students seek to move seamlessly from search-engine results to a website, and then on to admissions. The more the admissions team understands about what the student’s online experience has been, the better equipped they are to respond with the right information at the right time.

Not every college has a dedicated admissions leader. The team may be overseen by a provost or dean or someone with multiple areas of responsibility. On the marketing side, digital marketing tasks may be outsourced to vendors. Regardless of how many stakeholders are involved in your college’s enrollment campaigns, it’s important to ensure that each has a seat at the table. Frequent discussions can go a long way to identifying weaknesses in the enrollment process.

One critical goal that marketing and admissions should share is to map enrollment attribution throughout the entire marketing funnel. That is, to study what generates a lead and an application, then an accept, and finally, an enrollment. The more insight that both teams have into the student’s path, the more they’ll be able to optimize each point in the funnel.

Five Guiding Philosophies

Each college is different, but we’ve found that the five guiding philosophies below can foster a productive, collaborative inter-departmental union.

1. Common Ground
Look for common ground. What processes overlap and where are opportunities for synergy?

2. Optimize
Frame conversations around how processes or tools can be improved to better meet the needs of both departments.

3. Support
Trust that up until now, each department has done its best with the resources it’s had.

4. Evaluate resources
Identify what resources might be needed and look into what it would take to get them.

5. CRM
Evaluate the college’s customer relationship management system (CRM). It’s not uncommon for a college to have a CRM that has limited functionality. In an era when data is king, it is critical to have tools that will easily capture data about what the student’s enrollment path has been. A CRM that can export reports, graphs and other data analytics into usable dashboards at a moment’s notice is essential to today’s marketing climate. If your CRM does not connect, share and “talk” with other types of common business software, we recommend replacing it.

As colleges face greater challenges in meeting enrollment and revenue goals, strengthening the relationship between marketing and admissions is one thing colleges can do no matter how challenging the market, or how tight the budget is. A collaborative union that strives to make the most of digital tools and attribution can make a difference in meeting enrollment and revenue goals.

About the Author

Leah Otto

Leah Otto is a content marketing writer for Collegis Education. She holds a Master of Business Communication from the University of St. Thomas, Minnesota. She has taught over nine semesters of college-level marketing and public relations.

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