How to Build a Direct Response Enrollment Marketing Strategy

How to Build a Direct Response Enrollment Marketing Strategy

Presented at the National Council for Marketing & Public Relations (NCMPR) D1 Conference in Fall 2022

In October 2022, our team traveled to New York for the NCMPR D1 Conference and shared our insights on building a direct response enrollment marketing strategy at community colleges.

Direct response marketing has proven to be particularly effective for higher education. We compiled our top tips on how you can enhance your strategy, increase lead generation, and optimize lead progression.

1. Know Your Data

Break down the enrollment process in order to understand what’s working and what can be improved upon. The breakdown we recommend utilizing splits the process into five concrete elements:

  • Lead to Application Rate
  • Lead to Registration Rate
  • Deposit to Enroll Rate
  • Retention Rate (Fall-to-Spring & Spring-to-Fall)
  • Share of Stealth Applicants/Registrants

2. Build a Model

Imagine your ideal sales process. Writing it down or illustrating it can serve as a springboard for creating a direct response marketing strategy. Here’s a model we recommend:

3. Identify Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are targets that help you measure progress against your strategic objectives. KPIs are essential targets for the success of your enrollment results. Each stage in your enrollment marketing must have: 

  • % Lead to Registration Rate
  • % Fall-to-Spring Retention Rate
  • % Spring-to-Fall Retention Rate

4. Address Each Stage of Your Enrollment Model

If necessary, make improvements to each stage of your ideal model. Here are a few examples of common issues we’ve encountered in enrollment models:

Lead-to-Enroll Rate Too Low

Our Solution: Improve lead quality and outreach. Ask yourself which lead sources are getting to advanced stages in the enrollment model and which are not. Focus your efforts on the audience that needs the most assistance.

Retention Rates Below Benchmark

Our Solution: Add touch points to advising. Ask yourself how your team is communicating with students at different points in their journey. Are they receiving the appropriate support at each stage in order to move forward? Consider expanding your advising plan for current students and filling in any gaps that may be missing.

Bottom Line

Direct response marketing can be a profitable strategy to increase enrollment but can take time to implement. As experts in higher education marketing, the 5 Horizons team brings outstanding results to universities and community colleges across the East Coast. Contact us for help with establishing a direct response marketing strategy for your institution and increasing enrollment.