Innovations in Enrollment Management: Where Higher Ed Needs to Head in 2020
AVP for Product Management
January 22, 2020
I saw more innovations in enrollment management in 2019 than at any other time in my career in college enrollment. The confluence of a number of trends—the transition to experiencing the web on mobile devices, the continued evolution of social media, the demand for personalization and the need for automation to pull that personalization off—has quickly changed how prospective students search for colleges.
When students search for colleges and find your institution, they bring a load of expectations from their experiences with e-commerce, social media, streaming, texting, and other day-to-day activities. If you don’t interact with those students in a way that’s relevant to them, your institution won’t seem relevant to them.
That was why we focused so much of our attention in 2019 on enrollment solutions that would help campuses connect with students in a way that would increase student engagement, allow them to explore your institution the way they wanted, and ultimately lead to the right students enrolling. These innovations in enrollment management will become even more relevant in 2020 as the length of the recruitment cycle increases after the changes to NACAC practices.
The rise of video as a personal engagement channel
Video is the most preferred medium for students. It grabs their attention and—when done properly—will engage them more than any other type of content. However, video is also the hardest to personalize, which is why RNL made personalized videos one of its top innovations for enrollment management in 2019.
First, to generate personalization at the top of the funnel, we developed the RNL Demand Builder Personalized Video. Imagine a student opening a video message from your campus and having it use their name and display content that’s tailored to their interests. That immediately differentiates your institution and increases their engagement. In fact, in our initial results, campuses have seen a 40 percent higher yield rate from students who watch the RNL Demand Builder Personalized Video.
We did not stop there, however. We also have evolved the venerable financial aid award for the video age with the RNL Personalized FinAid Video. Similar to its top-of-funnel recruitment counterpart, it uses automation to convey personalized financial aid awarding info as well as additional information tailored to that student’s interests. Here’s a sample from one our clients.
AI chat: Creating enrollment conversations 24/7
Students research colleges on their own timelines. They may come to your website late at night or on a weekend, looking not just for information, but interaction. AI chatbots allow you to provide that interaction in an efficient, affordable fashion.
RNL rolled out AL, our chatbot designed specifically for higher education, early in 2019. This trainable chatbot enables you to engage students and their parents whenever they are ready to chat. The chatbot can answer common questions about application deadlines, where to find information on programs of study, and countless other questions without a staff member having to repeat those answers over and over. That frees those same staff members up for the meaningful interactions a human admissions ambassador needs to have.
Driving smarter strategies with actionable analytics
One of the great positives of the shift to digital marketing is the wealth of data it provides on student behavior. However, that data does no good if it’s not actionable, which was the focus of another one of our innovations for enrollment management in 2019: RNL Smart View dashboards.
RNL Smart View allows campuses to dive into the performance of their campaigns to better understand key performance metrics—such as response rates, geographical breakdowns, application status, and more. Speed is so crucial to student recruitment today, and analytics tools have to provide enrollment managers with the relevant information they need to follow up with students, make adjustments to campaigns, and monitor progress toward goals. Smart and accurate analytics also help ensure that you get the greatest enrollment return from your marketing and recruitment dollars, something campuses need to do in an era of limited resources and grand expectations.
Turning to experts for digital marketing (aka taking our own advice)
We tell campuses all the time that it makes sense to partner with firms and organizations that already have the expertise and systems in place to handle complex operations. In 2019, we took our own advice in the realm of digital marketing by acquiring Converge, the digital marketing agency for higher education.
By adding RNL+Converge, we have added the flexible digital, web, and social solutions campuses need to recruit traditional undergraduates as well as graduate and online students. We also greatly increased our ability to track analytics on digital campaigns thanks to the dashboards RNL+Converge provides.
Let’s talk about how you can take advantage of these innovations in enrollment management
RNL will keep moving forward with our innovations in 2020 so we can help you engage the right students and build the kind of personalized connections that produce enrollment results. And with the changes in NACAC practices likely leading to a longer recruitment cycle, campuses will need to keep students engaged across more channels for a longer period of time. Talk with our enrollment experts about how you can engage more students and bring in the class you want.