• University Marketing

The Sound and Fury of Search

#highereducation #highered #search #marketing


Many enrollment leaders at smaller private and regional state schools simply do not have the time to keep apprised of the data that guides good search decisions. With limited time and resources, they frequently rely on outside sources to inform those decisions.

There are many facets in which this challenge manifests itself.




Online lead aggregators, for example, whose raised hands never seem to make it to classroom seats. Or search consultants pushing large volumes based on red herrings like fast applications or “engaged” prospects which all too infrequently matriculate.


At this time, I wish to address a particular pitfall I see for over-worked, under-budgeted staffs- committing to the wrong volumes by search list provider.


In helping a small private school here in the middle of the country get their volumes optimized by source, I ran a report for them. It showed from whence the deposits we had collected for them in this, our first year of service to the institution, had originated.


I won’t give list company names, but these are exact figures:


Test Company 1- 65% of the deposited students we searched

Test Company 2- 20% of the deposited students we searched

Survey Company 1- 9% of the deposited students we searched

Survey Company 2- 4% of the deposited students we searched

Survey Company 3- 2% of the deposited students we searched


Nothing too surprising there probably. List sources comprised of state-sanctioned tests should be an institution’s strongest contributor.


But now, let me show you what percentage of overall search volume each list source represented:


Test Company 1- 45% of the overall students we searched

Test Company 2- 23% of the overall students we searched

Survey Company 1- 5% of the overall students we searched

Survey Company 2- 6% of the overall students we searched

Survey Company 3- 21% of the overall students we searched


Take-Away: We greatly increased the names we are buying from Test Company 1 in our second year. We slightly increased the volume we are buying from Survey Company 1. Obviously, we greatly decreased the volume we are buying from Survey Company 3.


We can’t continue to throw 21% of our list acquisition budget at a source that yielded us 2% of the deposits.

This is not high-level statistics. Any college with time and resources could have made these adjustments. But those who do not have the luxury of time and resources need an objective search consultant watching where their money is going and optimizing future search efforts. Otherwise, they are likely to succumb to a “tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

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