Coming to inboxes near you: BIMI

Coming to Inboxes Near You: BIMI

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Erin LauzonBy Erin Lauzon|November 29, 2022

Despite how it sounds, BIMI (pronounced: bih-mee), is not another type of cryptocurrency, another Gen Z acronym, or the name of a celebrity’s newborn.

It’s Brand Indicators for Message Identification (obviously!), or BIMI for short. It’s a way for brands to stand out in the email inbox with their logo, ultimately increasing visibility, engagement, and trust with their recipients. Recently, more and more Email Service Providers (ESPs), like Gmail, Yahoo Mail, AOL, etc., are starting to support BIMI. In fact, as of late October 2022, Apple Mail is supporting BIMI with the recent updates for iOS 16 and macOS Ventura.

At Spark451, we believe now is the time for colleges and universities to consider using BIMI to make an even stronger impression on students via their email marketing efforts. Read on for more details on how BIMI works and why it’s right for higher ed. We’ll even tell you how to set it up!

What is BIMI?

In layman’s terms (we’re not getting technical yet), BIMI allows brands to show their logos in the inbox next to their messages.

Interestingly, BIMI was not necessarily created with marketing in mind, but moreso to make the email industry more secure. In a world where email scams and phishing are more prevalent than ever, there are specific email sending authentications needed in order for BIMI to work. (More on those specifications later.)

Think about it: If someone knocks on your door claiming to be Ed Sheeran and offering you free concert tickets without showing his face, would you trust them and open the door? I would hope not — that sounds sketchy! But if he shows his face and it is actually THE Ed Sheeran, you would most likely open the door! Admittedly, opening college marketing emails isn’t as exciting as opening your door to Ed Sheeran, but you get the point. There’s more trust when you see a face, or logo.

Why is this a BIG DEAL for higher ed?

Initially, BIMI was only supported by a few ESPs, but now that Gmail announced their support of BIMI in July 2021, and now that Apple Mail is also on board, BIMI is officially a big deal for us as college marketers. Those ESPs represent a significant portion of our prospective student audience, at roughly 75–85%. Gen Z is a very visual bunch (looking at you, TikTok) and BIMI provides an opportunity to catch their attention in their already-flooded-with-college-marketing inboxes. Jumping on the BIMI train will be vital to the success of your email marketing campaigns.

Other benefits to implementing BIMI?

I. Increased Open Rates

Based on the Yahoo Mail BIMI beta program, open rates increased by an average of 10% for emails using BIMI. Some studies even found that brand competitors that did not use BIMI showed a decrease in open rate, and that customer purchasing decisions were negatively impacted. This is your chance to stand out among competitor schools in the inbox — especially right now, while most schools don’t have BIMI.

II. Improved Email Deliverability (Inbox Placement)

Besides the obvious benefit of standing out in the inbox and attracting more opens, BIMI indirectly improves email deliverability, or inbox placement. By implementing BIMI, ESPs will see the increase in email engagement, proving that you’re sending legitimate and relevant messaging, AND that you’ve set the highest level of security to protect their users from phishing scams. Ultimately, the job of ESPs is to keep their users (our recipients) happy and safe. In turn, ESPs reward us by keeping our messages out of the spam folder and by giving us the privilege of showing our logos in the inbox: ✨BIMI✨

How is BIMI implemented?

A few requirements need to be met in order to implement BIMI into your email marketing. You’ll most likely require assistance from your IT/web team.

Step 1: Ensure email sending authentications are set up properly, specifically the DMARC policy

To send emails legitimately and not be classified as a spammer, there are specific sending authentications that must be aligned in your DNS records: Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM). Something that makes BIMI a little more complicated to obtain is setting the proper Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC) record, or DMARC policy.

There are 3 types of DMARC policies: None, Quarantine, and Reject. Each can be thought of as a security level — with a policy of Reject being the highest — and ultimately protects your domain from being spoofed. Should a spammer impersonate your domain and send on your behalf, the DMARC policy would route their emails to spam (if the policy is set to Quarantine), or block their emails completely (if the policy is set to Reject). BIMI will only work if there is a secure DMARC policy in place, either Quarantine or Reject.

Step 2: Provide logo in a secure format with specific parameters

BIMI requires that a logo be in Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) format to provide the highest quality image in the inbox for all devices. Overall, logos must be centered, have a solid background, a square aspect ratio, and be under 32 kilobytes. The logo must also be hosted on a publicly accessible server. This is how the BIMI record will “call in” and render the logo into the recipient’s inbox. Here is a detailed list of the BIMI logo specifications.

Step 3: Obtain a VMC

certificate icon

A Verified Mark Certificate (VMC) is required in order for BIMI to work in Gmail and Apple Mail. The VMC ultimately confirms that your logo is trademarked and you actually are who you say you are. VMCs can be acquired from vendors such as DigiCert and Entrust, and there’s usually an annual fee.

Step 4: Publish the BIMI record in your DNS

After you’ve jumped through the above hoops, the BIMI record can be added into the DNS. There are various tools that can help generate the BIMI record and confirm that it’s set up properly, like the BIMI LookUp & Generator. It can take anywhere from 24 hours to up to a few weeks for the logo to start appearing in the inbox.


Of course, BIMI is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to delivering impactful email marketing campaigns for higher ed. Spark451’s email marketing experts and strategists can help you through everything from the technical aspects of implementing BIMI for your institution, to planning, crafting, and delivering robust, highly personalized campaigns that will support your enrollment goals. Feel free to reach out whenever you’re ready to talk.


Admissions and Enrollment Marketing Expert Brian Jansen Joins Spark451

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Spark451 Media RelationsBy Spark451 Media Relations|November 16, 2022

Westbury, NY — Spark451, a Jenzabar company, is proud to welcome Brian Jansen, our newest Senior Business Development Strategist. Based in Portland, Oregon, Jansen will work closely with the company’s partner institutions primarily in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest to help them achieve their enrollment goals.

“Brian brings a great deal of valuable experience to this role,” says Steve Kerge, Vice President of Business Development, Spark451. “He’s spent significant time both in the trenches of various collegiate admissions offices and as a trusted strategic partner on the agency side. I’m very enthusiastic about the insights and support he will be able to deliver to our partner colleges and universities.”

Jansen holds a BA in psychology from St. Norbert College and an MS in marketing communication from Illinois Tech’s Stuart School of Business. For more than two decades, he has been moving the admissions needle for higher education institutions. Jansen started his career working his way up through the admissions and marketing ranks at a handful of campuses in the Chicagoland area, including Trinity International University, Illinois Tech, and The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. At different points of his journey, he gained experience serving a variety of audiences including traditional undergraduate students, non-traditional adult degree completion students, and graduate students. At one point, he even managed to boost enrollment for one institution by a whopping 20 percent in his first year!

In 2010, Jansen transitioned from on-campus roles into enrollment consulting. In the last 12 years, he has partnered with well over 75 institutions from around the country. Along the way, he has helped schools refine their recruitment and enrollment strategies, implemented multi-channel student search and application generation campaigns, and delivered data-driven funnel qualification via predictive modeling.

“I am thrilled to be able to continue helping higher ed institutions identify ways in which we can collaborate to achieve their specific goals and face challenges head on,” says Jansen. “To me, the relationships I’m able to build with partner institutions and their hardworking teams is the most rewarding, and it’s what I’m most excited about in this new role with Spark451.”

About Spark451

Spark451, a Jenzabar company, is a higher education enrollment strategy, technology, and marketing firm that combines creativity with powerful technology to achieve measurable results. With a mission to help colleges and students fuel their future, the firm integrates a multitude of communication channels and platforms for effective enrollment marketing, student search, creative services, and digital media. Since 2011, Spark451 has worked with over 200 colleges and universities nationwide. For more information, please visit spark451.com.


Looking Further Down the Funnel

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Working in higher education right now can feel like walking in a blizzard. Everyone is doing their best to put one foot in front of the other without being able to see too far ahead. We’ve all been there. It’s very common to lose sight of anything beyond the next step — especially as the recruitment and application season picks up. However, this is also the exact reason it is important to plan ahead. Trust me, future-you will thank you.

In our recent College-Bound Student Survey for the Class of 2026, 65% of students indicated that they began to seriously look at college prior to the summer of their senior year. What is your plan to start engaging students before their senior year begins?

Let’s focus on an effective sophomore/junior search. Building early brand awareness is the foundation upon which you can begin to widen your funnel, putting your enrollment goals within reach. Being familiar with your institution is a prerequisite for students’ curiosity: When surveyed, almost 45% of the Class of 2026 said they would not open an email from a college if they had never heard of it. So, how can you make sure they’ve heard of you? Read on to see how we break it down step by step, focusing on the “who,” “how,” “when,” and “where” of an effective sophomore/junior search.

65%

of students indicated that they began to seriously look at college prior to the summer of their senior year

45%

of the Class of 2026 said they would not open an email from a college if they had never heard of it

Step 1: Figure out who you’d like to connect with.

What kind of students do you want to enroll? Where are they? What are their interests? Oftentimes, answering these questions is a daunting task in and of itself! Using tools like Spark451’s Purchase Modeling and Predictive Modeling can make this a breeze. By analyzing your institution’s historical data and comparing it with national enrollment trends, we can help you make a strategic name purchase, and then assign a score to those names ranking the likelihood of their enrollment.

Step 2: Determine how to talk to them.

27% of students from our College-Bound Student Survey indicated that they did not open an email from a college if it was too generic. While keeping brand messaging simple and clear is important, adding personalization is the name of the game. This is the Instagram/TikTok generation, where everyone has their own page, their own individualized timeline — and uniqueness is often celebrated. Getting creative with segmentation and personalized messaging is a great way to begin your relationship with these students.

Once you’ve managed to capture their attention, providing easy ways for them to indicate their interest is very important! Make sure you have a user-friendly lead form that is easily accessible in all of your communication channels.

Step 3: Plan for where you'll talk to them.

Multi-channel communication plans are going to be the most effective tools for building brand awareness. To start, introducing yourself through digital media is an excellent way to foster passive engagement. Having a social media presence on Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat — or even better, running ads on these channels — is an excellent way to make your name more recognizable.

Of course, email will be the primary vehicle to discuss who your institution is and what it has to offer. 95% of students noted that they used email for their communication during their college search, with mailed materials (47%) and texting (43%) coming in as the next most popular channels. Reflective of this, students ranked email as their preferred communication method, with traditional mail coming in second and texting coming in third. (Also, 30% of respondents noted they were OK with receiving texts anytime!)

Email chart

Once you’ve established your multi-channel communication plans, you can start passing the baton to your admissions counselors. Spring high school visits and college fairs are the best time to connect with sophomores and juniors in their natural habitat. In fact, according to our College-Bound Student Survey, almost 40% of students preferred to research a college with presentations/visits at their school. Pairing data insights from your communications with the student names you purchased (and potentially scored) can help you determine where to travel for the spring. Additionally, these trips provide the opportunity for counselors to make a personalized connection, as they can enter each visit with a list of students they know have already received and/or engaged with your communications. Making a good impression here, with the right students, is a recipe for success! (Did reading this just remind you that you need materials for the road? We can help with that, too!)

Another way to build relationships is to offer specific visit opportunities for sophomores and/or juniors on your campus. After all, 27% of the students we surveyed indicated that they knew their chosen school was right for them immediately upon visiting campus, so any way you can get students to your campus will likely result in a boost in enrollment later on. Something like a “Tips and Tricks for College Admissions” workshop could be a great way to garner interest from sophomores and their parents. For juniors, focusing more on your campus, scholarships, academic opportunities, etc., may be more appropriate.

Step 4: Engage the stakeholders.

We know parents/guardians are a huge factor in a student’s college search, with 88% of surveyed students indicating that their families had an impact on their college decisions. Engaging parents/guardians through their own specific campaign (separate from their students), is a very effective way to build brand recognition and establish relationships with these key influencers. Tailoring these messages to make them feel personalized is paramount, as the way you’d engage with a first-generation family may sound very different than how you might speak with a parent who is an alum, for example. At Spark451, we have the ability to append parent/guardian data to purchased names, making it easy to include them in your communication plans.


In a nutshell, running a successful sophomore/junior search comes down to playing a strategic long game in a thoughtful way. We know there are plenty of students who would be a great match for your institution — the challenge is finding them early enough in the process so that they are excited when it comes time to apply. Ensure you are talking to them as an individual so the student feels that any email, text, or postcard you’ve sent was meant for them — it can really make all the difference! If students and their families feel special, and that your school genuinely cares about them and their academic future, they’re going to be more likely to enroll.

To further discuss the details of your college or university’s sophomore-junior search, please reach out. We’ll be happy to help you refine your strategy and deliver a campaign that will support your goals. Trust us, future-you will thank you!


Strategies to Increase Enrollment With Adult Learners: Part 2

Strategies to Increase Enrollment With Adult Learners: Part 2

The second installment of our two-part series

Ryan HoganBy Ryan Hogan|October 12, 2022

Welcome back to the second part of our series on enrollment strategies for increasing your adult learner population. In my last blog, I discussed how adult learners may be able to give institutions a much-needed boost to their enrollment by offsetting the decline of traditional-age students. I also shared two strategies on how to lay the foundation for attracting the right adult learner. In this blog, I go further into how you can engage with the adult learner as an individual.

Patricia Nagy-Traviso, current adult learner

"I was profoundly grateful to have my past work recognized by the educational institution I had chosen, and it absolutely motivated me as I navigated the ups and downs of going back to school mid-career, changing careers."

- Patricia Nagy-Travieso, current adult learner

Strategy 3: Recognize Life Experiences

Barriers to Enrolling

The idea of going back to school has been in adult learners’ minds for quite some time, but as more time passes, more obstacles appear. Lack of time, cost to attend, and fear of academic preparedness are major obstacles adults face when considering returning to, or beginning, college. Identifying the value of their life experiences and addressing their obstacles can help adult learners take the initial steps to enroll. Getting adults to recognize their own experiences — and value — will help them overcome their perceived inadequacies.

Value to Classroom

Dr. Charles Backes, a former colleague of mine with more than 30 years in adult and career education says, “Having adults in my courses changes the entire course along with the way that I teach it. In a traditional, child-centered setting, content is delivered in such a way that the young learner can put it away to be used at a much later time. For adults, particularly those who are in the workforce, application can be immediate. In fact, adult learners prefer to be able to conceptualize and apply information right away to tasks and situations that are current and possibly problematic. When I can provide specific examples of content application and tie it to something they have experienced, it brings the content of the course to life and makes it relevant. It can also lead to meaningful discussions for the whole class, whereby much of the course content may be actually delivered by the students themselves under the direction of the instructor.”

Life experiences help with learning and processing information, especially when earning a degree. Think about how the classroom and learning experience will change with adult learners in attendance — what value they bring and the positive impact on traditional students.

Prior Learning Credits

Adult learners’ life experiences have tremendous value and are an opportunity to attract them to earn a degree. For example, Patricia Nagy-Travieso is a psychology major, returning to college after working 20 years as a writer for ELLE magazine. The institution she attends gave her credit for required English courses after reviewing her portfolio and evaluating her work experience. Trish said, “It felt both incredible and humbling for me to get credit for my work at ELLE magazine, where I had spent over two decades of what would become the first half of my professional career. I perceived it as a recognition for my years-long experience in branding, media management, and content creation, and it ultimately had a concrete impact on my future education as I embarked on returning to school to pursue a completely new professional path in psychology. I was profoundly grateful to have my past work recognized by the educational institution I had chosen, and it absolutely motivated me as I navigated the ups and downs of going back to school mid-career, changing careers. The credits for my portfolio were a supporting and motivational validation in a professional decision that is not always easy to make, and helped to make the pieces fall into place. I now have a year left before I graduate with a BS in psychology, and I couldn’t be more excited about my studies, and my future.”

Creating a clear process for evaluating and providing academic credit based on life experiences not only provides a strong message to adult learners that those experiences have value and are appreciated by your institution, but also makes it that much faster and financially possible to start or complete their degree.

Strategy 4: Effective Communication

Once you have identified who your adult learners are, the programs they are interested in and the way they like to receive communications, your job is done, right? Hardly.

Communicating with adult learners is critical as an enrollment strategy and where the rubber meets the road. Institutions should review the entire communication journey for adult learners — from website and application to emails and events, and reflect on whether the language being used is appropriate for this audience. In a nutshell, you should speak to adult learners differently than you would speak to traditional-age students because they have vastly different experiences and perspectives.

Using the right words, in the right channels, at the right time is critical, but it also requires significant time, resources, and energy to craft, execute, and monitor your campaign’s progress.

Although there will always be challenges in higher education, this is an unprecedented time because there are just so many factors that have many institutions scrambling to address their declining enrollment with declining resources.

Don’t worry, though, you’re not alone. Spark451’s experienced strategy team has the resources to help institutions like yours identify potential adult learners and to craft a sound plan to help usher them through the enrollment funnel.

To discuss your institutions’ strategy to enroll adult learners, and Spark451’s innovative solutions and proven results with adult learners, please reach out.


2022 College-Bound Student Survey: Download The Report

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Hear what 4,000 recent high school grads are saying about their college search process.

Spark451 Strategy TeamBy Spark451 Strategy Team|September 28, 2022

You already know that the college admissions world has been working through some unique challenges during the last few years, but you’ll probably still be surprised by some of the findings from Spark451’s latest College-Bound Student Survey.

This summer, thousands of 2022 high school graduates responded to the Spark451 Education Research Division’s 11th annual survey on the college selection process. Download the full report to gain access to all the valuable information for college admissions professionals, including:

  • The Class of 2026’s social media habits
  • Students’ reactions to test-optional admissions policies
  • The effect of fee waivers on application decisions
  • How students feel about text messages from schools
  • So much more

Download the Report

Download the report now. Then, reach out. We’ll be happy to help you determine if your upcoming admissions marketing and student search plans are fully in line with the latest data from students.


Strategies to Increase Enrollment With Adult Learners: Part 1

Strategies to Increase Enrollment With Adult Learners: Part 1

Adult learners may be the answer to certain enrollment challenges

Ryan HoganBy Ryan Hogan|September 14, 2022

Across the globe, industries have experienced unexpected challenges due to the COVID-19
pandemic, and higher education is no different. Burnout, gaps in staff, lack of accessibility to resources, and changes in mental well-being have impacted us all. During the past two years, and especially more recently, colleges have faced additional hurdles to enrollment — declining freshman classes, attrition of faculty/staff, and reduction in resources. With the onslaught of challenges and more uncertainty ahead, leveraging adult learners can give institutions a much-needed boost to their enrollment.

Colleges are seeing a decrease in traditional (under the age of 25) students. According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center’s (NSCRC) June 2022 Undergraduate Degree Earners Report, traditional-age students decreased by approximately 25,000 students from the 2019–2020 school year, falling by 0.5%. Instead of enrolling in college right away, many high school graduates are opting to enter the workforce, where they can earn higher wages than companies were paying pre-COVID.

The challenges don’t stop there. Institutions across the country are experiencing the pressure to hit increasing enrollment goals with decreasing resources. Also, fear of a recession has some families rethinking the financial obligation that college requires. Plus, for the last several years, those in enrollment management have been preparing for the looming “enrollment cliff” coming in 2025 due to low birth rates during the 2008 recession, which will result in a prominent decrease in the college-aged population.

All of this paints a bleak picture for college enrollment. However, as with any challenge, there are some opportunities. Specifically, NSCRC’s June 2022 report shows an increase of 1.4% in the population of adult learners. Adults returning to college to hone their crafts, advance in their careers, or prepare for a shift in their careers is a chance for colleges to diversify their college classes, while filling in the enrollment gaps.

Here, I’ll share some ideas to help you reach and connect with adult audiences. Since this is a big topic, I broke this blog into two parts. Read my first two strategies in this post, and then, come back next week when my other two strategies will be released.

2020-21 Graduate Profile (N=3.7M)

graph 1
graph 2

Strategy 1: Evaluate Academic Programs

In-Demand Programs

Evaluating and optimizing academic programs to evolve with demand and interest is a critical first step. According to NSCRC, the number of students earning baccalaureate– and associate-level degrees increased by 0.7% and 0.3%, respectively during the 2020–21 academic year. That 0.3% increase in associate level degrees is important, as the previous year saw a 3.7% decline. Take a look at your institution’s offerings, and consider if there are any additional degree programs you may be able to add to meet the changing needs of adult learners.

Modality

Another aspect of a college’s academic program to evaluate is the way the courses are offered. Although a majority of students prefer to have access to some fully online instruction (according to a Digital Learning Pulse Survey, 73% somewhat or strongly agreed that they would like to take some fully online courses in the future) many still prefer in-person learning. Asynchronous courses, meaning the student can access the course content on his or her schedule, are attractive to students who have full-time jobs or are located in other time zones, increasing your pool of potential students.

Strategy 2: Identify Your Population

Digital Strategy

Unlike traditional students, adults aren’t sitting in a high school classroom most of the day, but rather working, traveling to their kids’ practices, participating in committees, and taking care of their families. Identifying the right adult learners for your institution, based on your programs and course modality, takes creativity and strategy. Developing an adult learner marketing strategy that is too broad is a common mistake, resulting in a lukewarm outcome.

Instead, be more specific in your approach to identify and reach the best students for your institution with the best message. For example, using digital media ads that speak directly to that person about the program he/she is interested in will have better results than a general campaign with broad messaging hoping to reach all potential adult learners. You can support these campaigns with personalized microsites or program-specific landing pages that will use targeted messaging that will resonate with each particular audience.

Re-Engage Stop-Outs

The pandemic has impacted the number of students completing their degrees, with many leaving college just short. A recent Gallup-Lumina Foundation survey revealed that 85% of students who left college during the pandemic have considered re-enrolling. Reasons for leaving include decrease in finances, stress, academic concerns, and work obligations. Crafting strategies to address these specific concerns may be the key to getting these students to return to your institution.

Corporate Partners

Many companies offer tuition reimbursement or incentive programs to encourage their employees to obtain a degree. Identifying and forming partnerships with companies can benefit all parties — helping employers attract and retain employees and helping your institution reach its enrollment goals.


Enrolling adult learners is complex, but the ideas shared above should help you start crafting the enrollment strategy you need to be successful. Be on the lookout for my final two strategies in a blog that will be posted in the coming weeks. In the meantime, please feel free to reach out to schedule time to discuss tactics for your institution’s enrollment needs. At Spark451, we can help identify data points, such as socio-economic status, job searches in the college’s area, and other key indicators to help ensure your institution has the programs to attract adult learners and in the modality they prefer, and we can help you identify the right tactics for reaching those prospective students. We’d love to discuss your institution’s specific enrollment challenges and help you develop a plan to fill those gaps.


Parents Reflect on College Search

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Spark451 Strategy TeamBy Spark451 Strategy Team|August 30, 2022

As a new academic year approaches and the next senior search season begins in earnest, now is the time to get your finger on the pulse of what matters most to your student’s biggest influencers — their parents. To help make it easier, Spark451 Research recently conducted an expansive survey of parents of Fall 2022 college freshmen.

In our recent webinar, enrollment strategy expert Pete Colbert released the findings of the 2021–2022 College-Bound Survey: Parent Edition, which features feedback from nearly 1,500 parents from 38 states. Some of the results will be eye-opening for even the most seasoned enrollment managers!

Watch the recording to gain insights about:

  • Which communication tactics resonate best among parents
  • Which application incentives resonate best among parents
  • Whether most parents would encourage a child to transfer if they received a better offer from a competing school
  • The timing of the college search process and when parents helped their children commit to schools

You’ll also have the opportunity to download the full report!

Watch the Webinar and Download the report

The Ultimate Balancing Act

The Ultimate Balancing Act

Managing Enrollment Demands When Staffing Resources Are Low

Meghan OblaznyBy Meghan Oblazny|July 19, 2022

Over the past two years, higher education institutions have experienced turnover at an alarming rate. The Chronicle of Higher Education found that U.S. colleges and universities have shed more than 650,000 employees since the pandemic started. And the U.S. Department of Labor has not seen such a rapid decline in academic employment since it began keeping industry records in the late 1950s.

One of the most trusted and frequently used higher education job search engines, HigherEdJobs.com, lists over 4,500 available positions within admissions, enrollment management, and marketing across the country. These positions range from Vice President of Enrollment Management and Director of Marketing and Communications to CRM Specialist and Admissions Counselor. In fact, when surveying 20 random colleges and universities around the nation, we found there were 192 open positions. That’s an average of 10 per school in admissions, enrollment management, or marketing alone.

While the darkest times of the pandemic seem to be behind us and colleges have welcomed students back to campus, many schools are still feeling the hardships of the past two years. As an admissions team, you have adapted to communicate, think, and work differently. However, you’re also being asked to do a lot more with less, and you may not have the bandwidth to keep admission and enrollment projects moving along, the manpower to stay ahead of higher education technology that is ever changing, and continue to be innovative and competitive.

Let’s see how this translates into realistic situations.

01

Scenario 1: Reduction in Admission Counselor Staff

The pandemic has shown us that we can work from (almost) anywhere. Many dedicated admission counselors have had a taste of what a more flexible schedule feels like and have decided to leave their positions for employment elsewhere.

02

Scenario 2: Operations Staff and/or CRM Specialists Decide to Leave

You have innovative, data-oriented, results-driven operations staff and/or CRM specialists who maintain the flow of the application process and are the backbone of your student information system and data, but they’ve decided to move on in their careers.

03

Scenario 3: Decreased Marketing Staff

Maintaining a strong relationship between your marketing department and admissions team is vital for a continued stream of qualified students to be attracted and recruited for enrollment. It may not be only your admissions office that’s seeing a decline in staffing, but your marketing department could be losing valuable members, as well.

Solutions to consider:

  1. Utilize Your Internal Resources: Offer internship or employment opportunities to reliable students seeking experience in higher education admissions, marketing, or data analysis and information technology.
  2. Expand the Role of Your Student Ambassadors: Hire reliable student ambassadors to complete admission tasks such as phone and email follow up, and scheduling appointments for counselors. This can free up your admission staff to be more available for travel, connecting with prospective students, and application review and decision-making.
  3. Employ a Higher Ed Marketing Partner: Allocate unused budgets toward allowing a higher education marketing agency to take on admission and marketing projects for you. In my role as a Marketing Strategist, I partner with a diverse mix of colleges and universities, working with them on an ongoing basis to discuss unique strategies and tactics to improve their enrollments. I know that the leaders at these schools value the fact that I am there as a partner to focus on opportunities and ensure campaigns are running effectively.

It’s refreshing to see smiling faces on campus, open house events running again, and a more vibrant energy among faculty and staff. So, while certain difficulties of the past two years remain, there are effective solutions available to keep recruitment competitive, admission projects and systems running, and budgets under control.


To discuss your unique situation and the pain points you’re currently facing, please reach out to us. Our experienced strategy team would love the opportunity to bring innovative solutions to the table and develop a strategic plan to help shape your next fall class.

About Spark451

The higher education marketing experts at Spark451 truly understand the pain points you’re currently facing and will bring innovative and creative solutions to each project. Senior search, sophomore/junior search, admitted yield, E-communication plan workflows, graduate enrollment marketing, digital media campaigns, and customized CRM support are just a few of the tailored services Spark451 offers its clients. We’d love to brainstorm your unique situation with you and develop a strategic plan to help shape your next fall class. Connect with Spark451 today.


Perception Equals Reality: A Case Study on Price Point and Institutional Reputation

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Spark451 Media RelationsBy Spark451 Media Relations|June 16, 2022

Last year, the Spark451 team partnered with Feedback to conduct a case study of a private college in New York City. We evaluated the college’s reputation, its competitiveness in the market, and its comparative price point to both peer and aspirational competitors to determine if they could afford a cost increase. We shared our findings in a recent webinar.

A recorded version of the webinar is now available. To access it, simply complete this form and we’ll send you a link to the recording right away! You’ll also be able to download the presentation deck.

During the session, Spark451 Senior Business Development Strategist Pete Colbert and Feedback Chief Behavioral Officer Dean Browell, Ph.D. discussed:

  • why we conducted our study of a private college in NYC.
  • the unique methodology and analytic approach used to assess market reputation competitiveness as a tool to determine the viability of price adjustments.
  • the detailed results of our case study.
  • the benefits of conducting the same research for your institution.
  • candid thoughts on the efficacy of evaluating reputation to determine price adjustments.

Access the Recording & Slide Deck on Demand

Meet Ryan Hogan Our Newest Senior Business Development Strategist

Valdosta State University’s Ryan Hogan Joins Spark451

Valdosta State University’s Ryan Hogan Joins Spark451

Meet Our Latest Senior Business Development Strategist

Spark451 Media RelationsBy Spark451 Media Relations|June 9, 2022

Westbury, NY — Spark451, a Jenzabar company, is proud to welcome Ryan Hogan, our newest Senior Business Development Strategist. Based in Southern Georgia, Hogan will work closely with the company’s partner institutions primarily in the Southeast to help them achieve their enrollment goals.

“Ryan is well-known throughout the higher education community, and he brings a great deal of valuable experience to this role,” says Steve Kerge, Vice President of Business Development, Spark451. “I’m very enthusiastic about the insights and support he will be able to deliver to our partner colleges and universities.”

Hogan has spent 22 years in admissions and marketing at Valdosta State University. He fell in love with higher ed when he started working as an orientation leader during his freshman year at the university. He has since spent the entirety of his professional career climbing the ranks of the admissions office from recruiter, to associate director, and ultimately, to Director of Undergraduate Admissions — a position he’s held since 2015.

Throughout his tenure with Valdosta State, Hogan has become an expert at developing enrollment strategies as well as designing and executing marketing plans for undergraduate students, graduate students, adult learners, transfer students, and other prospective student pools. Along the way, he’s had several major wins, including:

  • Enrolling the institution’s largest undergraduate class in history for Fall 2020 — a 9% increase over the previous fall (and he pulled it off in spite of all COVID-19-related challenges)
  • Developing and implementing the university’s graduate recruitment strategy from scratch
  • Increasing the institution’s Hispanic student population through targeted marketing campaigns
  • Helping the university launch an online college for career advancement
  • Building relationships with employers who can provide tuition reimbursement for employees who head back to school

Hogan brings a strong understanding of multichannel marketing tactics. He believes in data- driven decision-making and knows the importance of personalized messaging. He also has vast experience with implementing and using a wide range of CRMs, including Slate. Hogan also holds both a B.BA in management and an M.Ed in educational leadership from Valdosta State University.

After two decades of working in-house at a university, Hogan is looking forward to joining the Spark451 team so he can help multiple institutions identify winning strategies and achieve their enrollment goals. “After all of my years working in higher education, I understand the enrollment pressures colleges are facing,” he says. “I am looking forward to getting to know other colleges’ needs, and through Spark451, becoming their partner for success.”

About Spark451

Spark451, a Jenzabar company, is a higher education enrollment strategy, technology, and marketing firm that combines creativity with powerful technology to achieve measurable results. With a mission to help colleges and students fuel their future, the firm integrates a multitude of communication channels and platforms for effective enrollment marketing, student search, creative services, and digital media. Since 2011, Spark451 has worked with over 200 colleges and universities nationwide. For more information, please visit spark451.com.