Boosting Applications and Fostering A Healthy Grad Student Pipeline

Month: October 2020

Spark451 Media RelationsBy Spark451 Media Relations|October 28, 2020

A couple of years ago, in an environment where MBA applications were generally down, one of our Ivy League institutional partners developed a unique advance-application program to shore up its MBA student pipeline. The initiative allows talented undergraduate students to apply for and gain advance admission to the institution’s prestigious MBA program.

By the time this school partnered with Spark451 in the summer of 2019, the institution had only just begun promoting the unique opportunity through a somewhat bare-bones email marketing effort. While the initial campaign was reasonably successful, the school’s administrators were ready to amp up their efforts and help the program reach its full potential.

Effective Solutions

To help our partner raise awareness of the program among qualified undergraduate students, and drive them to apply, Spark451 developed a combination of digital communications, including:

  • A robust series of search emails
  • Facebook and Instagram ad creative for a digital lead-generation campaign
  • A dedicated inquiry-capture landing page
  • A downloadable fact sheet (which the school ultimately used as a printed handout as well!)
  • An informational marketing video
  • A compelling series of prospect nurture emails

While adhering to the school’s larger brand, these materials built upon and expanded an existing marketing framework and helped refine key messages about the program’s unique benefits. In select instances, the materials were delivered by third parties as needed. For example, the emails were built and deployed from the school’s existing CRM, and the digital media ads were launched by the institution’s existing digital advertising partner agency. Regardless of how the materials were delivered, Spark451 ensured that the messaging and look was unified and suited for the niche audience.

Impressive Results

Ultimately, the program’s administrators reported the following results for the 2020 cohort:

  • A 64% year-over-year increase in started applications
  • A 76% year-over-year increase in submitted applications

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We’d love to help you achieve similar results. Reach out when you’re ready to discuss strategies and tactics to support your own enrollment goals.

The Votes Are In: Innovation451 Competition Winner is a Data Lake Platform for Data Governance, Analytics and Predictive Modeling

Month: October 2020

Spark451 Media RelationsBy Spark451 Media Relations|October 19, 2020

Innovation has always been an intrinsic part of the culture here at Spark451, but this year, we took it even further with the launch of our new company-wide initiative, Innovation451.

Starting this spring, Spark451 Principal Steve Kerge challenged all employees to come together to identify big needs, propose revolutionary solutions, and ultimately, select which ideas to develop and implement.

Meeting(s) of the Minds

While we were all still working remotely during the COVID-19 shutdowns, Sparklers from every discipline and department got together for virtual brainstorming sessions, during which all participants were encouraged to share their ideas. The only rule—that there were no rules!

After we generated a lengthy list of ideas for potential products, technological tools, and infrastructural improvements, participants voted to select four ideas to pursue further. Once the finalists were selected, the individuals who had proposed the ideas were each allowed to recruit two other employees to help them flesh out their ideas and prepare presentations to “sell” their ideas to the entire company. (Think “Shark Tank,” or as some of us came to call it, “Spark Tank!”)

Following the presentations this summer, the entire company was asked to rate each idea according to the following metrics:

  • Spark451 integration (how it aligned with our culture and mission)
  • Higher-education integration (how well does it solve a problem in our industry?)
  • Attainability
  • Stability
  • Usability
  • Marketability

The Winning Idea

Ultimately, the winning idea was to overhaul how we store and manage data—to move from a warehouse architecture to a data lake. As John Bellina, Director of Digital Services; Ed Flaherty, Client Development Strategist; and Saish Patkar, Senior Data Specialist, explained during their presentation, this massive infrastructural change (and sizeable fiscal investment) will enable Spark451 to easily provide even more robust campaign performance reporting, as well as deeper strategic analysis of campaign performance—both at the individual institutional level and industry-wide. These additional points of reference will allow us to be even more nimble at optimizing performance in real time, and enable us to benchmark performance across the industry, which should contribute to even greater success on enrollment campaigns.

While Spark451’s data team moves to make this bold new vision a reality, the company at large is gearing up for another round of Innovation451. We can’t wait to see which ideas rise to the top next!

TikTok Advertising For Higher Education

Month: October 2020

Spark451 Digital Media TeamBy Spark451 Digital Media Team|October 15, 2020

It’s safe to say that TikTok has taken the world by storm. Given the video-sharing platform’s overwhelming popularity with teens and young adults, it has the potential to help colleges and universities make a lasting impression on prospective students.

Now, TikTok has made the advertising portion of the platform available to a select group of agencies, and Spark451 is proud to announce we’ve been invited to participate in this exclusive program. We are excited to help our college and university partners leverage the app to foster deeper connections with students.

Why Timely Marketing is Critical

Curious as to how hot TikTok actually is right now? With more than 63.3 million installs in August 2020 alone, TikTok was the most downloaded social media app (excluding games) that month, according to data from Sensor Tower.

According to Sensor Tower, TikTok was the most downloaded social media app (excluding games) in August 2020.

You might be wondering if your prospective student audience is giving TikTok enough attention to justify spending ad dollars on a new channel, and the answer is a resounding yes! Not only does Hootsuite show that 69% of the app’s monthly active users are between the ages of 13–24, but our own recent mini-research experiment showed that teens spend several hours per week on the platform.

We recently took a sampling of students’ screen times over the course of a week, and our findings confirmed that older teens and young adults are spending plenty of time on TikTok.

TikTok Tips

Interested in TikTok advertising? Here are a few things you need to know:

  1. TikTok is ideal for Gen Z: As mentioned above, the majority of TikTok users are under the age of 24, which makes the platform ideal for reaching prospective undergraduates, transfer students, or recent graduates who may be considering graduate school.
  2. TikTok is well-suited for branding efforts: TikTok is an upper-funnel method of advertising that can help you build brand awareness with your target audience.
  3. TikTok users are engaged: According to TikTok, the average user spends over 71 minutes a day on the app and opens it more than 14 times a day.
  4. Targeting is key: TikTok offers robust targeting opportunities, allowing us to reach users by demographic, interests, geographic location, and more. Additionally, we can leverage first– and third-party data, in addition to retargeting and lookalike audiences, to ensure you can deliver your content to users with whom it’s most likely to resonate.
  5. TikTok requires its own unique creative: Your ad creative on TikTok needs to be mobile-friendly video and appear to be native to the platform. Animation, music, and authenticity are key. Plus, TikTok ads need to be refreshed regularly to avoid ad fatigue within the quick-moving platform.

TikTok and Beyond

In addition to TikTok, Spark451 holds exclusive marketing partnerships with a variety of platforms, including Google, Facebook, Snapchat, and LinkedIn. When you partner with Spark451, our premier-level affiliations with these platforms mean you’ll have the most up-to-the minute access to the best strategies for making an impact on these ever-evolving platforms.

When you’re ready to discuss specific tactics for your institution, please reach out. Our digital media specialists and enrollment strategists will be happy to help you craft a budget-friendly digital communications plan.

The Results Are In: 2020 Graduate School Intenders Survey

Month: October 2020

Spark451 Media RelationsBy Spark451 Media Relations|October 8, 2020

You already know graduate school is a perennially attractive option for students seeking additional credentials, career advancement, or a career change, but disruptive events such as the COVID-19 pandemic have the potential to radically alter students’ grad school plans.

The Spark451 Education Research Division’s 2020 Graduate School Intenders Survey examines how the pandemic has influenced prospective students’ outlook on graduate school. It also includes relevant insights on:

  • Which factors students value most when assessing grad programs
  • Students’ communication preferences and social media habits
  • Respondents’ employment outlook
  • Delivery format preferences
  • And so much more!

Download the full report now to access all of the results!

Get the Report