Higher Education Needs to Focus on Re-Recruitment

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Originally posted by our Jenzabar colleagues

Consider the following scenario: You’re a business-to-consumer company marketing your product in an extremely competitive field. But once your customers have made a purchase from you, you stop marketing to them. This is all but unheard of in the B2C marketing world, yet it’s an all-too-common practice in higher education. Institutions expend countless resources recruiting new students, but don’t put nearly the same energy into re-recruiting their current students. Given that dropout rates are holding steady and that this year’s FAFSA fiasco will have an enormous and negative impact on enrollment, it may be time for institutions to prioritize re-recruitment.

To some, the term has an alternative meaning. It was common in 2019, when the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) changed its code of ethics and allowed institutions to more aggressively market to potential transfer students. In the case that we’ll be outlining, however, the term refers to a strategy for institutions to market to current students with messaging that reinforces the idea that their institution is the right fit.

Vice President for Enrollment Marketing and Co-Founder of Spark451, Steve Kerge, outlined five re-recruitment tactics institutions should be using right now to ensure their current students return to campus in the fall.

1: Identify and Engage With Parents of Continuing Students

We tend to draw a lot of lines between students and parents in higher education, but many parents remain critically invested in their child’s education. The more connected a parent feels to an institution, the more they champion that institution to their child. Kerge advises mapping out touchpoints around critical enrollment timelines, then sending texts and emails highlighting key events and successes throughout the years. Institutions can also invite parents onto campus for occasions other than Parents’ Weekend, such as sporting events or speaker series.

2: Extend Benefits to Families of Enrolled Students

Think about all the companies offering friend and family discounts. This is a great way to build brand alliance and is a tactic that higher education should consider. What benefits can you offer student families that will help solidify your brand? In many cases, institutions offer students deals on software or discounts at local restaurants and shops. Can these be extended to families as well?

Institutions should identify the benefits that draw parents onto campus and use them. Can families also access the school’s library? What about gym nights, parent/child yoga classes, or even discounted dining hall days? Offering these opportunities to extended family members can help an institution build brand equity with audiences beyond their students.

3: Lean Into Social Channels

Kerge recommends institutions harness social media channels and ensure that current students and influencers are on those channels. It’s common practice during admissions season for prospective students and parents to join a school’s admissions groups, but what about current students and parents?

Institutions should promote their brand to current students on social media. Find out where students and parents spend their time and invest resources into creating posts, videos, and other messages that resonate with students and highlight your institution’s brand. Keep in mind, too, that your students are probably creating their own social media groups and channels. These are as impactful in promoting school culture as anything official from your school.

4: Perform Regular Surveys

At least once a semester, survey continuing students as well as their parents to gain insights into what they feel is important, what the school is doing particularly well, and what areas could use improvement. Student and parent attitudes can change year to year, even semester to semester, and identifying successes and issues can help institutions address them quickly. If both students and parents know that they have a voice on your campus and that their voice is making a difference, the chances of retaining them increase.

5: Keep an Eye Out for Behavioral Cues

Watch for signs and symptoms that a student is disengaging from the institution and create a plan of proactive engagement. There are several ways to do this. Keep an eye on specific transfer-signaling behaviors like drops in meal plan utilization (food can be a huge motivator for students) or transcript requests. Also keep a close watch on stop-out or drop-out behaviors. Retention systems like Jenzabar Retention create student profiles and possess predictive modeling and early alert systems, allowing you to identify struggling students quickly and implement counteractive measures.


Don't Wait to Start Re-Recruiting

While some of these strategies might take a bit of time to set up, not all of them do. Start communicating, start reaching out on social channels, and start thinking about what sorts of events you can host between now and the end of spring semester that will heighten your brand, and better connect students and families to your institution.

Keep in mind too, that these are only a few strategies you can employ. If you’re looking for more detailed marketing strategies, reach out today !


How Gmail and Yahoo are changing the email ecosystem

How Gmail and Yahoo Are Changing the Email Ecosystem

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Christina MaddalunaBy Christina Maddaluna|April 18, 2024

Gmail and Yahoo have recently dropped a game-changing announcement that’s set to revolutionize the way we send and receive emails, causing big changes throughout the entire email industry. What were once mere “suggestions” have transformed into mandatory requirements, which began rolling out in February 2024. These updated guidelines represent a change from the industry’s previous stance on email authentication and best practices. In short, all senders will soon be held to a new set of standards, which include maintaining low spam rates, incorporating a one-click email unsubscribe feature on all emails, and ensuring sender authentication.

In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at who will be impacted by these changes. We’ll also lay out the timeline, providing you with a detailed breakdown of when and how the changes will unfold. We’ll also unravel the specifics of these changes, and provide an email to-do list that will ensure your emails are sent without any error or delay.

Expected Impact

The changes are set to make a substantial impact, particularly on marketers and transactional email senders. However, this also includes any bulk email senders, which are email senders or domains that send 5,000 or more daily emails to personal accounts within a 24-hour period.

At Spark451, email communication is one of our main channels for reaching college students, and we’ve observed that most students use Gmail. For example, data from one of our largest university partners showed that 53.6% of students use Gmail. Following that, 8.3% of students used iCloud.

Timeline

February 2024

Failing to meet the new requirements will trigger temporary email errors. To better understand these errors, you can find more information by checking out Google’s Email Sender Guidelines.

April 2024

Non-compliance with the requirements will result in the rejection of a small percentage of your recipients. An example from Google: If 75% of your email traffic aligns with their standards, Google will begin rejecting a portion of the remaining 25% that doesn’t meet the compliance criteria, and will gradually increase the amount of rejections over time.

June 2024

One-click unsubscribe requirements will be enforced.

The Top 3 Biggest Changes

1. One-Click Email Unsubscribe

The introduction of the one-click email unsubscribe is geared toward simplifying the process for users looking to opt out of commercial emails. Google and Yahoo have mandated major email senders to make it possible for users to unsubscribe with just a single click. The ultimate goal is to create a more user-friendly experience, reducing the likelihood of users resorting to the spam button.

2. Reducing Spam Complaints

Google and Yahoo are stepping up their efforts in the battle against spam, employing sophisticated algorithms for identification and prevention. Email senders should be vigilant about their spam complaint rates, as those surpassing 0.3% could lead to deliverability issues and a portion of non-compliant mail being rejected. To ensure optimal email deliverability and engagement, it is advisable to target spam levels of 0.1% or below.

3. Stronger Email Security

One pivotal improvement revolves around reinforcing email security, a necessary upgrade. Tightening security not only boosts overall email deliverability but also mitigates the risk of phishing attempts, thereby nurturing increased trust with our target audience.

4 Easy Ways to Reduce Spam Rate

Below are four tips utilized by Spark451’s email team on a daily basis to decrease spam rates, leading to enhanced deliverability. While implementing these strategies may require a fair amount of time, the outcomes will undoubtedly prove to be valuable.

1. Segment Your Audience

Utilize demographics such as academic interest or location to tailor your emails to specific segments, which will reduce the likelihood of your message being flagged as spam.

2. Optimize Sending Times

Conduct A/B tests to determine the optimal times to send emails to your target audience. This helps enhance engagement and reduces the risk of your emails being marked as spam.

3. Thoroughly Test Your Emails

Ensure all links are functional, and that the email renders correctly across various Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Regular testing guarantees a seamless experience for your recipients, minimizing the chances of your emails being flagged as spam.

4. Email Engagement

Segment your audience based on email engagement and implement a sunset policy to remove users who haven’t engaged after a certain amount of time.

Improving the Email Authentication Process & Stronger Email Security

The landscape of email authentication is evolving, and it’s now imperative to implement DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) and Sender Policy Framework (SPF), as well as to set up a Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance (DMARC) record for your domain if you haven’t already. As a quick reminder, SPF helps identify authorized mail servers permitted to send emails on behalf of your domain. DKIM utilizes a digital signature to confirm that the email has been sent and authorized by the domain owner. Meanwhile, DMARC acts as a crucial standard, providing protection against sophisticated threats that could potentially lead to an email data breach.

Email Tip: Take the initiative to talk with your IT team to ensure that all email authentication records are correctly configured. This proactive step significantly reduces the risk of mail being rejected due to not meeting standard email authentications. For those without a DMARC record, it’s critical to add one to your Domain Name System (DNS) records promptly. Gmail now requires DMARC to be configured with a policy of at least p=none. This, at the very least, instructs the receiving provider not to take any action on an email that fails an SPF/DKIM check. Stay ahead of the curve by fortifying your email authentication measures and safeguarding your communication channels against potential security risks.

Your Email To-Do List

Make sure to add the following tasks to your to-do list to proactively address these changes! By incorporating these steps into your email practices, you not only comply with industry requirements but also enhance the effectiveness and deliverability of your email communications.

Incorporate One-Click Unsubscribe

Make sure you set up one-click unsubscribe on all emails. Check with your CRM to see if this is already being done.

Update SPF and DKIM Records

Keep your SPF and DKIM records up to date. These authentication mechanisms help establish the legitimacy of your emails and ensure they are not flagged as spam.

Align DMARC Policy

Once SPF and DKIM are in place, ensure your DMARC policy aligns with your authentication records. This cohesive approach strengthens your email security measures.

Set Up Spam Rate Alerts

Establish alerts to notify you when your spam rates increase above the recommended threshold of 0.1%. Monitoring spam rates is crucial for maintaining a positive sender reputation and ensuring your emails reach their intended audience.

Email Pro Time

Make sure you have a Google Postmaster Tools account — this will be one of the only places you’ll be able to see the true spam rate.

Don't Hesitate To Ask For Help

The email team at Spark451 has been diligently striving to anticipate these alterations, in order to guarantee the seamless and timely delivery of our partners’ emails. If you need help making sure your institution is well-positioned to navigate these changes, feel free to reach out. Our email experts would be happy to help optimize your setup to ensure compliance and promote deliverability!


Your Applications Are Up, but Are You Prepared for Yield Season?

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Bryn CampbellBy Bryn Campbell|February 27, 2024

My first year of admissions (*ahem,* many moons ago), we made the class with some elbow grease, events, notecards, and phone calls (gasp!). We worked hard, we did at least the minimum number of contacts per week, and the algorithm just…worked. Inevitably someone would always say, “Our jobs are based on the whims of 17 year old kids.”

Sound familiar?

While true at its core, there are quite a few things within our control to help read into those “whims” and use the data to direct our efforts. We’ve gathered up some of the biggest topics from this fall and winter for you to consider as you develop your yield plan this spring.

Direct Admit Agreements Are the Latest Wave — But Will Students Matriculate?

Direct admit programs, while not new, are better organized on a larger, more accessible scale. In November 2023, nearly 300,000 students received admission decisions via the Common Application’s Direct Admit Program — without even applying first. While some students interviewed said it was a “nice option,” many said it would not change their list of top schools. But it does contribute to the “noise” in the market.

So how do we respond to this new admissions trend? A focus on strong, authentic, admitted student communications is paramount. Make sure you are clear and concise about your outcomes and student experiences. Speaking to students about their interests and goals directly will help them (and you!) understand if your school is a best-fit for them. Add in well-timed student and family surveys for feedback. These kinds of data points, coupled with consumer behavior data points, will create informed outreach strategies for you and your team.

Students Continue to Apply to Many Colleges

While the stories of students applying to 100+ colleges have circulated our networks, we can assure you this is not the new normal. Students and families are concerned about getting in, so they are casting a wider net, but not to the extreme. For example, in our 2023 College Bound Student Survey, 39% of respondents said they applied to 10 or more colleges, up from 37% in 2022. The increased accessibility to applications through common platforms, the incentivization of free applications, and the proliferation of marketing through social media have all played a role in the initial increase and the continued 10+ average.

While many students can be serious applicants, the key to driving yield is to break through the noise of the market with your authentic voice, and by speaking directly to the needs of Gen Z. Have you spoken about your campus climate? Mental, social, and academic support? Does your campus reflect your brand and mission as a whole? Do whatever you can to help students feel more connected to your institution.

(Of course, not every student will choose your school. Take a moment to reflect on the “why,” and collect that data to inform your future efforts.)

Application Submission Issues Have Plagued the Process Once Again

This year, the chatter around application and supporting documentation issues seem to be on the rise. What does that mean for you? Opportunity! Helping students to understand that there is still time to apply allows your campus to be the hero in a stressful year. Can you help by removing barriers? Can you streamline the process by prepopulating application data from your CRM? What do you really need to make the admission decision? Think creatively about how your staff and your campus can support families to make college a reality.

This issue extends to the delayed FAFSA process, as well. Early anecdotes suggest that some families who are reliant on federal and state aid were waiting to even apply to college until the FAFSA was released. Getting into spaces where you can help families complete both applications will give you a bump, and help create trust toward future matriculation.

Delayed Release of the FAFSA and Financial Aid Process

Speaking of FAFSA… The delayed launch has caused several layers of concerns: delayed data management system updates, delayed download and testing of institutional methodology, and — more seriously — delayed family notification, greatly shortening the timeline for families’ considerations.

It will be important for admissions teams to clearly communicate timelines and next steps. You may not be able to initially give families the full financial picture, but what can you give them? Scholarship amounts? Likely eligibility? FAFSA completion assistance? Taking the time to think through a well-crafted plan here will help you be first to market. How you treat families through this delicate time will set the tone for how they perceive your campus treats students.

We here at Spark451 love to dive in and look at the trends, analyze the data, and work towards our partner institutions’ goals. As industry veterans, many of us sat where you sit now. But the days of being at the “whim” of others have passed. We want to help you reach your class goals with some of the tactics here, and more. Reach out today — we’d love to connect!


Graduate School Intenders Survey

Access Our Latest Graduate School Intenders Survey Results

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Spark451 Media RelationsBy Spark451 Media Relations|February 15, 2024

You already know graduate school is a perennially attractive option for students seeking additional credentials, career advancement, or a career change. However, global events, evolving modality preferences, regional political climates, and a variety of other factors can reshape what prospective students expect from their graduate school experience.

In Spark451’s latest Graduate School Intenders Survey, we gathered feedback from more than 1,400 students who entered undergraduate programs between four and six years ago. The resulting report gives a picture of how this population feels about graduate school right now. It also includes relevant insights on:

  • When students are most likely to start graduate school after completing their bachelor’s
  • Students’ communication preferences and social media habits
  • The degree to which a region’s political leanings might influence students’ decisions about where to attend graduate school
  • Delivery format preferences
  • And so much more!

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


Registration Is Now Open For SparkThink@JAM

Registration Is Now Open For SparkThink@JAM

Wednesday, May 29–Friday, May 31, 2024 • Dallas, TX

Spark451 Media RelationsBy Spark451 Media Relations|February 1, 2024

We’re thrilled to announce that registration is now open for SparkThink@JAM, our special interest forum on enrollment marketing, strategy, and technology!

Register Now

Taking place during this year’s 23rd Jenzabar Annual Meeting (JAM), SparkThink@JAM will bring together enrollment marketing and admissions leaders for engaging sessions and discussions that support the advancement of the higher ed community, as well as your own professional and personal development. By sharing diverse perspectives and experiences, you’ll be inspired with new ideas and tactics for engaging your target markets and elevating your recruitment campaigns and practices.

SparkThink@JAM will offer attendees 3 days of educational sessions, panel discussions, and networking opportunities, as well as a one-of-a-kind experience at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center on the shores of the majestic Lake Grapevine.

Learn more and register today!

We can’t wait to see you there! If you have any questions, feel free to reach out.


2024 SparkThink@JAM Call for Session Proposals

SparkThink@JAM Call for Session Proposals

Spark451 Media RelationsBy Spark451 Media Relations|January 11, 2024

Calling all admissions and marketing thought leaders! Here’s your opportunity to share your unique wisdom and help support the advancement of the higher education community. The teams at Spark451 and Jenzabar invite you to submit a session proposal for consideration for the 2024 SparkThink@JAM Special Interest Forum on Enrollment and Technology.

Submit Proposal

Call For Session Proposals Is Now Closed

Share some of the great work you’ve been doing on campus with an audience of your peers at the Gaylord Texan Resort in Dallas, TX, from Wednesday, May 29–Friday, May 31, 2024. Accepted presenters will receive complimentary registration to this 3-day event, featuring a full schedule of educational sessions, panel discussions, and networking opportunities.

Each session will run for 50 minutes and should be focused on 1 of 3 core areas: enrollment strategy, marketing communications, and data/operations. Looking for inspiration? Potential topics may include:

  • Unique admissions and/or enrollment marketing challenges and solutions
  • Increasing diversity and/or being mindful of diversity in recruitment
  • Unexpected ways to connect with unique audiences (ex: adult degree completion, parent engagement, influencers, etc.)
  • Responses/solutions to recent newsworthy higher ed events

The Planning Committee looks forward to reviewing your topic as we collectively work to support the professional and personal development of our attendees and the higher ed community. The deadline to submit your proposal for consideration is February 15, 2024.

What is SparkThink@JAM: Special Interest Forum on Enrollment and Technology?

Taking place during this year’s 23rd Jenzabar Annual Meeting (JAM), SparkThink@JAM is a session track dedicated to sharing information and ideas on topics related to enrollment management, admissions, strategy, marketing, and technology. It will offer attendees three days of educational sessions, panel discussions, and networking opportunities.

This spring, more than 1,300 of your colleagues will be heading to JAM to focus on higher ed tech and the platforms driving your institutions. We hope you’ll join them — and us — in Dallas for a meaningful and memorable event focused on the latest innovations in admissions and enrollment marketing.

Additional details and registration information will follow.

SparkThink @JAM logo

SparkThink@JAM
Wednesday, May 29–Friday, May 31, 2024
Gaylord Texan Resort, Dallas, TX

We can’t wait to see you there! If you have any questions, feel free to reach out.


The ROI of Paid Media for Senior Search

The ROI of Paid Media for Senior Search

Danielle SaadBy Danielle Saad|January 11, 2024

Teenagers spend an average of 8.5 hours of screen time per day, which has increased year over year. For example, since 2015, there has been a 29.75% increase in screen time. Out of a 24-hour day, with at least 7 hours of sleep, teenagers spend 50% of their 17 waking hours on screen devices. Entertainment screen use includes time spent watching TV, playing video games, using social media, browsing websites, creating content, and other digital activities.

As every marketer knows, the best way to reach teenagers is where they spend the most time, which is why it’s crucial for colleges and universities to run paid media campaigns through social media channels, ConnectedTV, audio channels, or on the web. With lower costs and high ROIs, running paid media campaigns can help you reach your goals.

Offsetting The College Board Search Changes

As the College Board lowers the number of names available through its Student Search Service, paid media campaigns are becoming more important than ever for the student recruitment process. With large reach and powerful targeting abilities, paid media campaigns can help you connect with prospective students who are likely to be a fit for your institution.

We analyzed our partner institutions’ paid media efforts for recruiting Fall 2023 undergraduate students and compared them to the College Board’s Senior Search name purchases for Fall 2023, and here is what we found:

$15,000+

Our partners spent, on average, $15,000 more for the College Board’s purchased names than what they spent on paid media.

7% ratio

On DM lead-generation focused platforms, our partners averaged 309 leads and a 7% leads-to-deposit ratio.

2% ratio

In comparison to the College Board’s purchased names, the same partners averaged 5,873 leads, but have a much lower leads-to-deposit ratio of 2%.

35% yield

Paid media had a 35% yield, while the College Board had only a 7% yield.

A Look at ROI

We took it a step further to determine the ROI. We calculated this based on the tuition cost for one year and by how much was spent on paid media and the College Board Senior Search, based on the number of deposits.

Paid media and the College Board Search both resulted in high, positive ROIs of 4,269% and 5,200%, respectively. The College Board had more deposits which resulted in a higher ROI, but they had a lower lead-to-deposit ratio and a lower yield. The costs of entry for DM is much lower than one would expect and can generate similar, or in some cases, more favorable results than with the College Board’s Senior Search. Overall, we found that paid media ads cost 38% less than the College Board Search, and had a significantly higher yield (at a difference of 28 percentage points), resulting in an excellent, positive ROI.

Even though the student recruitment landscape is evolving, your partners at Spark451 know there are still multiple solutions to fill your Fall 2024 class and beyond, and we’ll be happy to help you get there. For a deeper discussion of how you can modify your undergraduate search plans to support your goals, feel free to reach out. Our knowledgeable client strategists and digital media specialists are here to support you every step of the way!


Brand Bifurcation

TOTAL CONVICTION: EPISODE 10

Brand Bifurcation

Spark451 Strategy TeamBy Spark451 Strategy Team|December 7, 2023

Does your administration’s view of your institution match how the public sees your institution? If not, your college or university may be suffering from what we’re calling “brand bifurcation.”

In the latest episode of our “Total Conviction” video series, Steve Kerge, Co-founder of Spark451 & Jenzabar Vice President for Enrollment Marketing, highlights three common ways “brand bifurcation” can manifest within an institution, along with tips for how you can resolve the underlying issues related to each form.

Check out the video above now, and feel free to reach out whenever you’re ready to discuss specific ways you can battle any brand bifurcation that you’ve identified within your own institution. Our enrollment marketing strategists are here to help!

You can also revisit the full collection of “Total Conviction” videos here!


Financial Aid Simplification

TOTAL CONVICTION: EPISODE 9

Financial Aid Simplification

Spark451 Strategy TeamBy Spark451 Strategy Team|November 9, 2023

As the federal government works to complete its overhaul of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in time for the planned December relaunch, now is the time to watch the latest installment of our video series, “Total Conviction.”

In this episode, Steve Kerge, Co-founder of Spark451 & Jenzabar Vice President for Enrollment Marketing, offers three distinct strategies for admissions teams who are preparing to navigate the new FAFSA process. Check it out above!

When you’re ready to discuss additional ways you can prepare for this season of change, please reach out. Our enrollment marketing experts will be happy to help you brainstorm and support your goals.

You can also revisit the full collection of “Total Conviction” videos here!


Reframing the Graduate Student Enrollment Journey

Prospective students are continually receiving offers from every brand and institution out there, every moment of the day. How do you break through the noise? The first, and most important, step in your enrollment marketing efforts is to truly understand the audience to which you’re speaking (enter: persona modeling — more on that in a minute) and then, to identify how you’ll attract their attention and usher them through the enrollment journey.

In higher education, the enrollment funnel has long been the model used to drive marketing and admissions strategy. However, prospective graduate students don’t adhere to a traditional enrollment cycle, thus, the funnel breaks down. Viewing the graduate enrollment process through the lens of a traditional customer decision journey (more commonly favored by marketers in commercial fields) allows for more flexibility for graduate enrollment managers to maximize efficiency in marketing and recruitment tactics. Let’s explore how to begin making this shift in strategy.

source: McKinsey

Customize Your Messaging to the Graduate Audience

Like many other efforts in enrollment, your outreach toward the graduate audience must be curated and customized. Because we are working outside of the traditional enrollment funnel, tactics must be hyper-personalized to the student based on not only where they are in their decision journeys, but also in their lives.

Consider this: On one end of the graduate student spectrum, you have the fresh-out-of-undergrad, hungry-to-learn 22-year-old. This student has fewer considerations for finding a graduate program outside of what feels like the right fit. On the other end of the spectrum is the single parent who is looking for a graduate program that will propel them into the next stage of their career; earning them more money and stability for their family. This student’s concerns when looking for a program are limitless — financial aid, flexible scheduling and formats, and time to completion.

The ways in which you speak to these two students should drastically differ, both in means of communication and tone/voice. This is where the adoption of the customer decision journey model, as opposed to the traditional enrollment funnel, is greatly beneficial. This strategy allows us to better understand our prospects and broaden our perspective when it comes to engaging with them.

So, how do we meaningfully customize our engagement toward this audience?

The Power of Personas

Persona modeling is the process of creating representations of who your ideal customers are, informed by research and historical data. This tactic allows for segmenting your audience based on factors such as demographics, psychographics, behavior, and more that you can then apply to your strategic messaging.

The first step of establishing personas is to do some digging: Mine your CRM for data and conduct both qualitative and quantitative research. Once you have your data in place, it’s time to map student information with a solid plan for engagement. Important questions to consider when building this plan include: What are the most important pieces of information this student needs to know? How should we speak to them? What are they motivated and inspired by?

By answering these questions, you should have a clear vision for each of your distinct personas. Now, it’s time to integrate these personas into your graduate student journey map.

Leveraging Personas to Personalize Your Journey Map

Like your prospective students, each persona is unique and will respond differently to messaging throughout their journey. Take each of your customer personas and strategically design their journey map to define targeting, messaging, and communication tactics at each step.

Let’s walk through an example together. Meet Dave, a prospective graduate student of Spark University.

personal image

Step 1: Awareness

Dave feels frustrated and stuck in his career. In an effort to climb the corporate ladder, he asks some friends for advice, engages with some professional organizations, networks on LinkedIn, and looks up free professional development opportunities.

How Spark University Meets Him

  • Word of mouth
  • Free resources (courses, webinars, white papers, podcasts, video)
  • Digital media advertising
  • Email

Step 2: Familiarity

Feeling hopeful about his future, Dave seeks out relevant resources that fit within his specific criteria around the time, energy, and money that he’s willing to spend. Once he has a grasp on these criteria, he researches what different institutions can offer him.

How Spark University Meets Him

  • Student/faculty/alumni profiles
  • Testimonials
  • Events

Step 3: Consideration

Dave has decided that graduate school is the right route for him and his lifestyle. Along with teaching him practical skills and holding him accountable, it will give him the status that comes along with an advanced degree. Dave connects with admissions offices and starts his applications.

How Spark University Meets Him

  • Email
  • Phone calls/text messages
  • Live chat
  • Meetings (in person or virtual)
  • Invitations to attend classes
  • Curriculum information
  • Student outcome info
  • Scholarships/funding

Step 4: Purchase

Dave has chosen Spark University! He has enrolled in classes and is working toward his degree. He is still trying to strike a balance between working and taking classes.

How Spark University Meets Him

  • Dedicated advisor
  • Text message/email check-ins
  • Surveys about experience
  • Events

Step 5: Loyalty

Graduate school was a success for Dave. He achieved his goal and is climbing the corporate ladder. He seeks continual professional growth, as well as the honor of supporting his alma mater, in an effort to continue to better himself.

How Spark University Meets Him

  • Professional/networking events
  • Career resources
  • Giveaways
  • Donation rewards/recognition

Our modern reality is that everything we do — for every distinct population — must be highly personalized. The prospective graduate population is no exception. These unique students require intentionally tailored messaging that will engage them in meaningful ways. Building personas empowers teams to employ strategic tactics and makes prospects feel important, and marketing to them through the framework of a customer decision journey makes it easier to connect with these students however and whenever they are ready.

The team at Spark451 is ready to discuss your graduate enrollment challenges and help customize your marketing and recruitment strategies using a customer decision journey approach. Feel free to reach out so we can get started.