As the calendar begins to turn to “the roaring ’20s” we all start to reflect and think about what we can do to resolve to do better in our personal lives, health, and of course our work. Our team sat down and brainstormed what we think are the 20 things our partners and leading higher ed institutions can (and should) do to support better enrollment, marketing and most importantly professional and student success in 2020 (and beyond).

So … here it is … Our “top 20 for 2020” (in no particular order):

  1. Use data to make informed decisions – This should go without saying, but in 2020 admissions teams who want to be the most successful will either work with internal resources like Institutional Research or marketing or leverage outside help from trusted consultants or data science firms to drive data-informed decisions throughout their recruitment and marketing funnel.
  2. Integrate legacy communications with new media – When you started sending e-mails you didn’t stop traveling. When you started doing digital advertising you didn’t stop sending e-mails. The same goes with integrating a truly omnichannel enrollment marketing campaign. Webcasting, chat, social media streaming and text messaging will not replace legacy media … they will enhance it.
  3. Avoid quick fixes – This goes hand-in-hand with our #1 … Quick fixes like large list buys late in the process or adding an expensive regional admitted student event may drive optics but they may not drive outcomes. Being more strategic can help drive greater outcomes at lesser expense.
  4. Re-think your social media strategy – When social first came on the scene it was all about building a following and a voice. Today it’s about advertising and listening. But, it’s also about video streaming. How are you integrating video in to your overall recruitment plan when YouTube is now a top choice for college research?
  5. Simulcast more – Building off the resolution above, don’t limit yourself to a single platform. How are you repurposing content across Facebook, YouTube, and even twitter to drive visibility and demand?
  6. Let your students tell your story – Canned and over-produced content or shiny virtual tours will only take you so far. How are you connecting your real students to your prospects in a way that is authentic? Consider live content via Conduit as a way to connect your students with your prospects, directly.
  7. Try one new thing – As we approach the halfway point of this it’s important to acknowledge that a list of 20 may be a little overwhelming in an industry like higher education that is often slow to change. So, as you read through this list (or your own) try to focus on one singular thing that you know you can crush in 2020!
  8. Stop one old thing – Along with starting something new, evaluate what you’ve been doing and see if there’s something that’s crazy that you still do and stop it. This can be hard because there are often many stakeholders and decision makers who all see value in different things. But, it’s important to remember you can’t do it all. Pick one thing (maybe something you’ve been doing since 2010?) and stop (or at least refine).
  9. Make real-time use of prospect feedback – Don’t wait until after the enrollment cycle ends to survey your students and try to figure out what worked and what didn’t. Leverage in-event and post-event surveys to solicit real-time feedback and use it to inform future decisions or communications.
  10. Text more – Most students are open to receiving texts but don’t yet receive the right ones. Start with event reminders and build from there. Use texting for more than “nudges” and you’ll see great success.
  11. Be authentic – Like leveraging your student voice, content presented by admissions and financial aid is far more effective when it’s authentic than “canned” or over-produced.
  12. Ask great questions – If you ask your prospective students questions at key times in the process you can shorten your RFI forms and still drive more personalized communications that drive greater conversion.
  13. Find and act on data trends – Companies like RNL, Eduventures and Capture Higher Education do a great job of building great research content that can help inform high level decision making. This, alongside your institution’s data, can help boost conversion and lower effort and cost throughout the process.
  14. Leverage multiple voices throughout the process – Prospective students expect to hear from different members of your campus community at different times throughout the process. There are places where faculty or alumni presentations work, and places they do not. The key is understanding where and when to use this great content for the highest engagement.
  15. Create immediate engagement opportunities – Some content is great for very reserved (some might say “exclusive”) times of the year. Consider a live virtual admitted student session or pre-orientation content sent specifically to targeted prospects via text message as way to engage your prospective students at key times with relevant information.
  16. Keep an eye on your competition – This one goes without saying (but we said we’d share 20 so we’re going to say it!) but keeping up with the competition is paramount for driving success in 2020. In light of the recent changes to NACAC CEPP (reminder: Don’t be evil!), international enrollment trends and of course data and privacy concerns; staying current is critical.
  17. Try a new professional development opportunity – Many people go to the same conferences year-over-year … which is great! However, you may also be missing opportunities for fresh perspectives and ideas. Consider a new conference, or even a webinar from a provider you haven’t worked with before. This may be a great way to gain a new idea to apply to your office.
  18. Practice good data hygiene – How many of the emails that you send get returned because the address is wrong? Do you update them? What about phone numbers? These are all critical data points that can be used to drive personalized content and invitations … but they only work if they are right! Develop a process with your team to ensure this content is regularly updated and correct.
  19. Participate in #NACACReads – NACAC runs an amazing online book club connecting you with authors who write great content to support new ways and perspectives of supporting students throughout the process. Check it out and participate! You won’t regret it.
  20. LOVE your job – This is the most important resolution because it is the difference between higher ed being a “job” and being a “mission”. The work you do matters. You aren’t just filling a class. You are building a community of lifelong learners who will advance in their careers and lives. LOVE YOUR JOB AND YOU WON’T WORK A DAY IN YOUR LIFE!

Good luck to you and your team in 2020 and beyond. Thank you for all that you do to support students. We look forward to helping you along the way!

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