When I worked in corporate America, we had a saying regarding data. Good data allows for good decision making. And despite this axiom to be true in any enterprise, I am often surprised by how many schools don’t actively work hard to ensure good data gathering in their marketing efforts. Often schools just don’t know or even worse, haven’t seen the value in gathering data to help shape their marketing efforts. But it doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are the top 5 mistakes that schools make around their recruitment data:
1. Not regularly surveying your customers. Your current students and parents can be your most effective marketers. Word of Mouth is the most effective way to increase your student enrollment, but do you know if they are satisfied with their experience? Do you know if they are thinking of leaving? This doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming. Just doing an annual satisfaction survey via Survey Monkey can give you actionable information. But make sure you don’t reinvent the wheel every year. Keep some questions constant to allow you to track longitudinally your effectiveness on certain parameters. More on surveys in this blog post.
2. Being afraid of Google Analytics. Google provides a wealth of information on the effectiveness of what is probably your most expensive marketing vehicle: your website. This information can be overwhelming but if you are just starting out, you can focus on a few of the most important metrics like total page views, bounce rates and inbound traffic patterns. Google Analytics is free and they offer some free web based tutorials on how to get the most out of understanding your web site’s effectiveness.
3. Not maintaining a prospect database.
As anybody who has ever done sales will tell you, maintaining a prospect database is key. Every inquiry, every lead and every student name needs to be treated as gold because with a little bit of work, you can turn that lead into an enrolled student. Without knowing who is interested in your school, you can’t take action to move them from a prospect to an enrolled student.
4. Not actively tracking your channel effectiveness. Every school has a limited marketing budget. But there are a multitude of vehicles that you could spend your money on. From recruitment fairs, to website banners to direct marketing vehicles like billboards and radio, you have a lot of choices to spend your money on, but do you know the right one? Channel mix is the ultimate challenge for a marketer, but with a little math, you can at least get at some baseline information. It can be as simple as taking your cost of the channel and dividing it by the number of inquiries or ultimately, enrolled students to get at a customer acquisition cost. You don’t have an unlimited budget – make sure your money is going to the most effective vehicle.
5. Failing to actively track attendance and closure rate at open houses / school tours. Most of the money that you will spend on marketing is to get the prospect to attend an open house or a school tour. The attendance number should be one of your key performance indicators for how well your marketing is working and your closure rate (attendance vs. enrollment) is really the capstone of your effectiveness to “close the deal”. This is critically important to measure.
As I tell my clients, if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. It takes a little bit of time to gather good data, but it pays off in the end by allowing you to more effectively manage your marketing. Hopefully this article helps you to not make these same mistakes.
Nick LeRoy is the president of Bright Minds Marketing and former Executive Director of the Indiana Charter School Board. Bright Minds Marketing provides marketing and recruitment consulting to private, Catholic and charter schools. For information about how Bright Minds Marketing can help your school improve your marketing, visit us at www.brightmindsmarketing.com, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 317-361-5255.