5 Eye-Opening Things We Learned About Online Education in 2022
2022 will be remembered as RNL’s “Year of Online.” Over the course of the last 12 months, we published two groundbreaking reports focused on online education. In May, we released the inaugural Online Student Recruitment Report presenting findings from our survey of 1,600 prospective online students. We followed this with the debut of the Online Program Marketing and Recruitment Practices report in October, which profiled the strategies, tactics, and operations of more than 100 schools with online programs.
We’ve discussed and presented findings from these reports throughout the year, but I recently asked my colleagues which points they found the most eye-opening in light of their work with graduate and online education programs. Here’s what they said:
1. Average Marketing Spend is High
“The average marketing spend of more than $1 million documented in Online Program Marketing and Recruitment Practices surprises audiences every time I bring it up. This has led a lot of great conversations about the importance of investment in order to be competitive. Interestingly, it has actually led to several conversations about how to build buy-in for this level of investment with leadership. It is with this in mind that I’m so pleased that we began to answer this question with our “Making the Case for New Program Investment” guide this year, and will carry this forward in 2023.” —Holly Tapper, Vice President for Graduate and Online Partnerships
2. Good Copy Gets Results
“That the greatest proportion of online students click on ads because the copy engages them shouldn’t surprise people, but it seems to. This beats ads for institutions they know and ads for unknown institutions with the program they want and speaks to the power of good copy that engages and speaks to them. This is a huge endorsement of the importance of building personas to guide your marketing approach. If you have a good idea about who are you targeting you can write with them in mind and find them on the platforms on which they are most likely to be active. This all aligns with my blog on ‘Personas: the Key to Success in Digital Marketing” that I wrote earlier this year.” —Charles Ramos, Vice President, Graduate and Online Partnerships
3. Public Institution Recruitment Teams Are Twice as Big as Private
“For all that we hear about the struggles of public institutions, their sheer size may—or may not—put them in a strong position to grow their online enrollment. Our Online Marketing and Recruitment Practices report indicates that the average public institution recruitment team is twice the size of those of private institutions. This could be both a strength and a challenge. From one perspective they have more ‘hands’ to get the job done, but if they aren’t well organized, size may be hinder innovation. From the opposite perspective, smaller private institution teams may be able to be more nimble in coming up with creative approaches to meet the ‘need for speed.’ In either case, it is important that institutions continuously evaluate the student experience, which was the subject of one of my recent blogs: Should Colleges and Universities Be Concerned About the “Customer Experience?”
—Scott Jeffe, Vice President, Graduate and Online Research
4. Online Students Demand Timely Response
“At the risk of beating a dead horse, the thing I repeatedly return to when talking with clients and friends is just how demanding today’s students are of the institutions and programs that interest them. They expect experiences that align with how interact with other ‘service providers’ whether it be Amazon, Netflix, Starbucks, or their bank. The data I most often use to demonstrate this is the table from the Online Student Recruitment Report that indicates that more than 70 percent of students expect to be admitted within one week! We talk a lot about the other statistic – that nearly the same proportion expect a response to their initial inquiry within 24 hours, but when you think about it, getting organized to respond to an inquiry on that timeline is easy compared with admitting within one week. I participated in a webinar with colleagues that was summarized in the Why Timely Response Is Critical to Enrolling Online Students blog we published earlier this year.” —Bob Stewart, Vice President, Graduate and Online Partnerships
5. Online Students Reward Timely Service
“Nothing I have presented this year has had greater impact on a room full of institutional stakeholders than when I share the data on how likely students are to enroll at the first institution to offer them admission (or to respond to their inquiry first.) We often talk about the 80+ percent who are at least “likely” to enroll at the institution that admits first, but even securing the 20-25 percent that indicate that they will “definitely” enroll would have a huge impact on enrollment planning. I love to listen to the dialogue that begins among stakeholders as they start to work through what would need to change, and how they could build buy in among their colleagues. We addressed a lot of these challenges in our recent blog on The Difference Between Growth and Contraction: Meeting the Market Where It Is.” —Aaron Mahl, Senior Vice President, Graduate and Online Partnerships
Read the reports and reach out to talk about your best strategies for 2023
Both the Online Student Recruitment and Online Marketing and Recruitment Practices reports are free for you to read. You can also find many more insights and strategies in our graduate and online enrollment blogs.
Finally, my colleagues are always ready to help you determine your best strategies for reaching your enrollment goals. Contact us for a complimentary consultation and we will help you have eye-opening success in 2023 and the years to come!
Talk with our graduate and online enrollment experts
Ask for a free consultation with us. We’ll help you assess your market and develop the optimal strategies for your prospective graduate students and online learners.