Higher Education Student Recruitment: Omnichannel Approach Yields Superior Results

“The native integration of ActiveCampaign and Postalytics is a game changer for colleges and universities. As a CRM and marketing automation platform, ActiveCampaign provides the flexibility we need to address any client use case. With Postalytics, we can take direct mail from an offline channel to one that is fully integrated, automated, and measurable.”

 

John Copeland, eduConverse

 

eduConverse is on a mission to help students make life-changing decisions through education.

As a marketing and technology agency, eduConverse assists colleges and universities of all shapes, sizes, and missions in engaging students, parents, and stakeholders in authentic conversations across communication channels.

eduConverse combines communications strategy, content creation, and technology know-how with best-of-breed software tools to help higher education marketers effectively engage their audiences where they are.

Managing Relationships is More Than Sending More Email

Constituent Relationship Management, or CRM software, entered higher education marketing in the early 2000s with a promise of managing the growing complexity of student recruitment, engagement, and retention.

While CRM software is now considered integral, many institutions have found deploying and managing these platforms challenging. Problems range from user resistance, staffing, and lack of internal expertise to software capability and integration issues.

For many institutions, CRM’s promise went from better managing relationships to sending more emails.

eduConverse, with its focus and higher education experience, empowers colleges to produce better results at lower costs. How? By leveraging their industry know-how with the power of omnichannel marketing.


The Challenge: Personalized Student Recruitment Journeys at Scale

Colleges and universities today face several headwinds, including declining enrollments since 2012, a looming college-aged population decline, rising costs and mounting student debt, and waning confidence in the value of a four-year degree.

In addition to connecting with prospective students and encouraging applications, colleges and universities must engage parents, high school guidance counselors, and current students while maintaining connections with alumni.

Colleges must engage target audiences where they are through deliberate and personalized conversations across multiple communication channels and to do this effectively at scale.

Yet, to do so, higher education professionals are limited by several roadblocks.

Staffing Shortages and Lack of Expertise

Post-pandemic, colleges face difficulties hiring and keeping admission counselors, who travel and recruit students face-to-face. This role typically sees high turnover, with over two-thirds of staff leaving within three years.

Admission counselors or other internal staff are often reassigned to organize, write, and manage enrollment marketing campaigns, diverting them from the crucial role of building relationships.

Inadequate Omnichannel Marketing Automation

A lack of integrated software tools requires employees to navigate manual processes and workarounds and spend far too much time and energy on rote tasks.

For example, SMS messages and emails may be sent from different software, while direct mail is coordinated offline and outsourced to external printers. Target audience data is often manually exported from one system and uploaded to other software or sent to external vendors.

Lack of Integrated Direct Mail

Direct mail initiatives have yet to be integrated with CRM software, often leading to reliance on external printing services and ineffective coordination. Colleges traditionally send “bulk mailings” using a “topic of the month” approach rather than embedding each delivery in a workflow of SMS, email messages, and call attempts.

As a result, prospective students receive fragmented and impersonal communications that fail to resonate, thereby not enhancing the perceived value of the institution or higher education in general.

The challenge is not just about doing more but more intelligently–without diverting limited resources from recruiting students.

Check Out Automated Direct Mail Pricing

The Solution: Integrated Marketing Automation Driving Personalized Student Experiences

Using ActiveCampaign and Postalytics Agency Edition software, eduConverse offers a tailored solution for higher education student recruitment. With eduConverse, colleges and universities can master omnichannel marketing and use automation to target campaigns to the right person at the right time.

Integrated higher education student recruitment with Postalytics and ActiveCampaign

“The native integration of ActiveCampaign and Postalytics is a game changer for colleges and universities. As a CRM and marketing automation platform, ActiveCampaign provides the flexibility we need to address any client use case. With Postalytics, we can take direct mail from an offline channel to one that is fully integrated, automated, and measurable.”

John Copeland, eduConverse
Discover the ActiveCampaign Postalytics Integration

The combination of these platforms is a fundamental pivot point streamlining the communication process. “Integrating direct mail with digital channels has been a “missing link” in higher education marketing,” said Copeland. “Now, print and digital marketing can now be designed, automated, and deployed from a single desktop or laptop computer.”

(Example 6×9 Postcard front & back)

This integration allows tangible, real-time connection points across multiple communication channels and intake points, such as web forms, landing pages, student entrance exam data, admission applications, college fairs, and more.

Mail Delivery Insights Enable Triggered Omnichannel Outreach

With data from the USPS Intelligent Mail Bar Code, Postalytics provides insight into mail delivery. “We know when a client’s postcard is enroute or out for delivery, allowing us to trigger an email, text message, or phone call from the admission counselor that evening or the next day,” said Copeland.

The ability to draw from this dynamic pool of information enables a more precise and personalized recruitment process.

Dynamic Personalization Drives One-to-One Marketing

If, for instance, a prospective student expresses interest in biology, in addition to email and text messages, a letter or personalized brochure about the program from the Dean of Sciences can be automatically “triggered.” This level of personalization creates a sense of personal connection and interest, making eduConverse stand out in college recruitment marketing.

Their automated communication strategy approach incorporates students’ interests and relevant insights drawn from other data and is highly scalable. “Whether a college offers 50 or 150 academic majors, with our solution, we can dynamically trigger the right content regardless of the channel,” said Copeland.

ActiveCampaign Automations Drive Integrated Campaigns

Automated or triggered direct mail is part of an integrated eduConverse strategy driven by ActiveCampaign. Student actions recorded in the ActiveCampaign CRM system, such as visiting a website or filling out a form, often initiate triggered pieces of personalized Postalytics-created direct mail.

(Example ActiveCampaign Automation Triggering Direct Mail and Email)

ActiveCampaign Automation Triggers Direct Mail via Postalytics

“We see print as a premium channel and with Postalytics we can integrate our client’s recruitment direct mail seamlessly with digital,” says Copeland.

Automated direct mail can also be the starting point of multi-channel communication sequences as part of a first outreach effort. When a student scans a QR code on a postcard, brochure, or letter, for instance, the action prompts follow-up activity as emails or text messages.

Large Batch Campaigns Save Postage $ with USPS Nonprofit Mailing Permits

Besides triggered direct mail that works as part of a multi-channel automated sequence, eduConverse also uses Postalytics’ Smart Send capabilities. They send large batches of personalized mail using permission-based student entrance exam data from the SAT or ACT testing services. Smart Send direct mail formats are highly variable, using data to control college information, images, and references to preferred major fields of study. eduConverse leverages their client’s nonprofit mailing permits within each client account to enable significant cost savings that are passed along to their clients.

Postalytics provides the capability for eduConverse clients to use their Nonprofit Mailing Permits or allow them to use a Self-Funded Postage option.

(Example 8.5×11 Letter and Envelope Application Invitation)

Before connecting with Postalytics, eduConverse did not include direct mail in their solution. Each school contracted with a local printer to handle the direct mail aspect of recruitment. The company has reached an impressive milestone in less than four years: sending one million direct mail pieces annually through their Postalytics Agency Edition account.

The Results: Agency-Led Technology Scales Higher Education Student Recruitment

The engagement of eduConverse’s services has led to measurable success for their higher education clients.

The success of eduConverse’s solutions sets it apart in the landscape of higher education recruitment and marketing. They present a practical strategy for colleges and universities looking to increase audience engagement, drive prospective students through the pre-enrollment process, while improving the student experience.

“At the end of the day, college recruitment should be about helping students make decisions about their future,” said Copeland. Our job is to help our clients present the opportunities available to students in a way that conveys their brand value. With ActiveCampaign and Postalytics, we have a powerful tool set to help colleges achieve their specific goals.”

The software technology stack is a clear competitive advantage for the company. eduConverse’s clientele is diverse, encompassing many types of higher education institutions. With each client institution having its own distinct character, requirements, and challenges, the company has demonstrated skill in customizing its services to match their diverse needs.

Next Steps: Growth

Given the headwinds facing the higher education industry along with staffing shortages, eduConverse sees more colleges looking to outsource recruitment communication strategy and execution. Between CRM software licensing fees and the cost of “mini-agencies” within the admissions office, often staffed with recruiters who have other full-time responsibilities, Mr. Copeland feels this approach isn’t sustainable.

“Our team works in this space every day, and we are fortunate to have great partners; however, it’s complex work that makes it challenging to stay on top of new developments, trends, and technology,” says Copeland. “Most colleges can’t afford to dedicate the resources necessary to do this work well. We can.”


Tech-driven Omnichannel Approach Wins in Higher Education Student Recruitment

eduConverse is a perfect example of how automated direct mail meshes with other marketing and CRM systems as a key contributor to the system’s overall success. Postal mail is rarely the only channel used by an organization anymore. Exploiting direct mail’s strengths as it complements actions in other channels is the way users can get the most benefit from their investments. eduConverse has perfected this integrated environment to meet the needs of its higher education clients.

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