• University Marketing

Do Not Limit Your Search To One Or Two Lists

Updated: Apr 2, 2019

The Best Way to Utilize List Sources in Search Marketing

#SearchMarketing #HigherEd #HigherEducation #College


There are few “laws” in search marketing. One size does not fit all non-profit colleges and universities. But if you are an institution garnering most of your freshmen from within an hour or two of campus, you need complete search market saturation to ensure your counselors are getting all they can from your search efforts.


Not all list sources are created equal. | Stewart 360

Complete search marketing saturation is commonly referred to as “owning the backyard". If you want to own yours, do not limit your outreach to high school prospects captured by one, or even two of the major list companies. I would suggest that you “follow the money trail” if you are being advised to do so. Strategies for full saturation certainly vary, but I am going to share mine with you. In my fourteen years of enrollment consulting, I have built a list aggregation formula that works pretty well. Before I share that, let me define what I mean by “works…well”.



If you cannot trace as high a percentage, yours is probably not working optimally. To ensure the lists we help our clients build are optimized, first, we consider whether the campus is in an ACT or College Board (SAT) state. In most cases, the test sources are those which will bring your best Costs-Per-Freshman*. Do not be too enamored of Costs-Per-Application when you trace effectiveness to each contributing list source. Focus on the folks the list company brings to your freshmen classes when you work it backwards to see how much each freshman costs by source. As an example, my foundational list in Kansas is going to be ACT, and I will adjust parameters to order the students I want from College Board to supplement that. On the coasts, the logic is reversed. After the state testing sources, I supplement the buy with the survey-based sources: NRCCUA, CBSS, and in the cases of Christian schools, Christian Connector are vital sources. Most of these will be more unique in their output than you might suspect. CC as an example, advertises that 70% of their names will not be duplicated on other lists. Some of these supplemental sources will credit you for duplicate names. You may be advised to use the state test source and the most effective survey source, but be careful. Here in the middle, those two sources combine to average 60-67% of the freshmen schools matriculate. But if you don’t reach 33-40%, you are missing freshmen you should have. Lastly, after the institution approves our recommendation, my staff merges, purges and dedupes our combined list into one target group that we reach via, mail, email, social media, direct geo-fencing and phoning on behalf of the school. After that, we know we have gotten every bit of life we can out of these prospects, which are pretty costly. On the average each name will cost you $.40 or more. I know that is not cheap, but I also know that when you have a comprehensive list to search, you will own your backyard. As such, your institution is going to make the money it invests back with huge returns. That is only going to happen when you are using all reputable, available sources to build your search prospect list. *It will cost your school between $19-$100 per freshmen to recruit from your primary list source, and $50 to as high as $750 to recruit from the ancillary lists. But can you afford to eschew either?






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