Can Marketing Automation Increase College Enrollment?

Universities are ultimately running a business, and attracting prospective and current students and alumni is key to keeping the school afloat.

San Mateo, Calif.-based marketing software company Marketo today announced growth of 44 education customers who signed, renewed or extended their agreements from January to July 2016. January to July 2013, Marketo had 28 such customers, according to a Marketo spokesperson.

Organizations include GLOBIS University in Japan, Max M. Fisher College of Business at Ohio State University, University of Nevada, Reno, and University of Wollongong in Australia.

Marketo says declining enrollment and competition from online alternatives have made recruiting more difficult. So, better engagement and customer relationship throughout a student’s education can increase enrollments and donations.

Student enrollment, however, is only part of the larger problem facing American colleges. Getting students to graduate remains a bigger challenge: In 2014, 60% of students who wanted to earn a bachelor’s degree at a four-year college in 2008 graduated in 2014, according to the US Department of Education.

Hanover Research’s 2015 Trends in Higher Education Marketing, Enrollment and Technology report suggests that institutions are devoting more attention and resources to branding and marketing than they did years ago. And increasingly, colleges are turning to digital marketing strategies, social media outreach, and mobile platforms.

According to the report, the number of organizations using marketing automation from 2011 to 2014 increased 11 times.

Australia’s University of Wollongong, for example, used Marketo to engage with prospective students and saw a 15% increase in leads turning into applications within the first year. Algonquin College reported a 71% year-over-year increase in lead generation and an 18% increase in sales on Marketo.

“With Marketo, we can show we’re a revenue-generating team, by providing insights into how many leads are in the pipeline, how many are likely to sign up, and how long it takes to move them through the process” , says Nicholas Manojlovic, Digital Head of Student Recruitment at the University of Wollongong.

While the numbers aren’t exact on the platforms used by colleges, many higher-level marketing teams have turned to the major platforms in the market. Software review site G2 Crowd ranks Salesforce Pardot, Marketo, and HubSpot among the market leaders in marketing automation. Others like Adobe Campaign and Oracle Eloqua are competitors and niche players.

HubSpot lists Tufts University’s Gordon Institute, Florida Institute of Technology, and University of Southern California as education clients.

Some institutions rely on hiring outside marketing departments, and those budgets are growing as well. Hanover’s report found that 63 of survey respondents spent more than $100,000 on marketing and branding, and 31 percent spent more than $200,000 in 2015. Sixty-one percent of directors said they had started implementing branding strategies over the past five years.

But colleges use marketing platforms like Marketo to do more than increase enrollment — automation software works to maintain email lists, manage social campaigns, as well as website calls-to-action. . Customers, or students in this case, expect multi-channel engagement through email, mobile alerts, or social media updates, and colleges try to stay on top of those channels with solutions like l marketing automation.

According to Hanover Research’s 2015 survey, 36% of respondents said the main benefit of marketing automation was minimizing repetitive tasks, and 30% said the benefit was better targeting of customers and customers. leads. Another 10% said marketing automation helped improve customer experience.

Yet, marketing automation is not a perfect practice. Some colleges have recently come under fire for unethical marketing tactics and have ended up paying the price.

In January 2016, the Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit against DeVry for misleading students about their job prospects and graduate salaries. And in April, Attorney General Maura Healey sued ITT Tech for inflating job outlook data for its computer network systems program.

While this is more human error than platform error, academic institutions have learned to approach marketing practices with caution, even though automation can make life easier.