Posts Tagged ‘CUnet’
This week, a significant portion of the Eastern US was severely impacted by Hurricane Sandy. That included our CUnet head office in Paramus, NJ (which is still without power) and many CUnet staff and customers. Power is slowly being restored to affected areas, repairs are being made, and people are doing the best they can to return to normal life. Our thoughts are with everyone who has been affected by the storm; we wish you the very best in this difficult time.
While most of the news was focused on this week’s storm, we did collect a few stories from the world of higher education that we thought we’d share.
Have a wonderful weekend everyone, and be safe!
- Higher education: Heading for upheaval? (Washington Post)
- Saving Higher Education (Huffington Post
- Equal Pay For Equal Work: Not Even College Helps Women (NPR)
- Colleges Rethink Need Blind Admissions in Favor of Meeting Need (Inside Higher Ed)
- The LMS Instructure Enters the MOOC Fray (Hack Education)
- Obama’s ‘Pay as You Earn’ Plan for Student Borrowers Becomes Official (Chronicle of Higher Ed)
Recently, more than 35 employees from our Paramus, NJ office rolled up their sleeves and helped out at Habitat for Humanity of Bergen County’s “Brush with Kindness” project, renovating a home to accommodate Zoey Komninos, a child with cerebral palsy. Joining the Habitat Bergen crew multiple times, teams of CUnet volunteers became the latest group of “Zoey’s construction angels.”
In total, we spent more than a combined 140 hours working on the project, and more than twice the amount of time the average person spends engaging in volunteer activities over an entire year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
If you’ve been following our mobile marketing case study posts, you know how a mobile pay-per-call campaign works, what types of schools can use these campaigns successfully, and that mobile can be a low-cost, high-converting inquiry source. But, if you’re still not fully convinced, you should head on over to our Case Studies/Whitepapers page and download the full case study for yourself! Now, you too can read firsthand these impressive results and get a better understanding of how mobile can work for you. And remember, if you have any questions or are interested in finding out how to start your own mobile campaigns, contact us today!
Our clients will often seek out the help of CUnet’s Reporting and Analytics team to solve a dilemma they’re facing or provide insight towards a particular development. Recently, a CUnet client who had experienced a decline in enrollments since January 2011 asked us to help. So, we set out to determine why this was occurring and what could be done to alleviate it.
Step One: Analysis
The first thing we did was take a look at their enrollment data for Jan. 2011 – May 2012. While perusing their data, we noticed that a significant number of their enrollments came from a small number of affiliates. In fact, three affiliates accounted for over 65% of their total enrollments for the 17-month time period! (Chart A.). The final 35% of enrollments was divided up among 21 different affiliates. Needless to say, these three providers were very important in helping the client reach their enrollment goals, and it was important to ensure that there weren’t any changes in these relationships.
|Affiliates||Enrolls||% of Enrolls||Cumulative Enroll %||Lead/Enroll Rate|
Then we looked into the monthly enrollment activity for these three providers during the above time period in order to see if there were any fluctuations in volume. While it appeared that the volume and enrollment trends for Affiliate A and C were fairly consistent, it became obvious that the volume for Affiliate B decreased significantly during this time period. From October 2011 through May 2012, Affiliate B’s enrollment trend began to decline, causing the client’s overall enrollments to decline as well. (See Charts B and C).
We then reviewed their overall volume by state. It turns out that, while they were generating volume from virtually every state, there were a number of states from which they didn’t receive any enrollments (about 13 in total). Their philosophy at the time was to have their higher volume-generating affiliates focus on their lower-producing states, and have their lower-producing providers focus on their higher-producing states. Given how top-heavy the volume disbursement was among the affiliates in terms of enrollments, it seemed that this approach was not providing them with the results that they were anticipating.
Finally, we took a glimpse at their lead cycle timeline to see how long it generally took their inquiries to convert into enrollments. At the time, the client had a call center that would generally call prospective students for about 30 days before transferring the inquiry over to the school. After taking a look at their typical timeline, we noticed that 75% of the enrollments tended to enroll within 18 days (Chart D). Moreover, it took 61 days to generate 90% of their enrollments. In other words, it took 43 days just to gain another 15% in enrollments from day 18 on. It became apparent that if the client didn’t enroll the inquiry by the 18th day, their chances of enrolling the interested party decreased significantly. It was a point that we definitely wanted to stress to the client.
Step Two: Our Recommendations
After completing the analysis, we presented our findings to the client and made the following recommendations:
-Short term: increase the level of volume received from Affiliate B.
-Long term: find and develop relationships with other quality inquiry providers. This should help decrease the reliance on such a limited number of affiliates.
-Regarding affiliate restrictions by state, either focus the higher-volume providers to the higher-producing states (in order to maximize the potential of those states) or eliminate the restrictions altogether.
-Revise the internal call-center processes to place more focus on converting enrollments within the first 18 days after a prospective student has expressed interest.
The client went on to make several revisions as a result of our analysis. First, they started to increase the level of volume they received from Affiliate B. They had not realized how much of a decrease there was from this affiliate beforehand, nor had they been aware of how much they depended on them for their enrollments. Secondly, they began to test new affiliates in the hope of finding more high-quality inquiry providers.
The client also took our recommendations regarding their affiliate restrictions and went one step further. They stopped generating volume from the states that hadn’t produced any enrollments and began focusing all their attention and affiliates on the states that had. This restriction should help to enhance the enrollment potential that already exists in these areas. Finally, they revised their internal call-center transfer processes from 30 days to 18 days.
We’ll be following up with our client on a weekly basis to determine if the revisions we’ve put in place begin to have a positive impact, and anticipate seeing an improvement within three to six months. We expect these steps to not only lead to an increase in enrollments, but ultimately provide a larger number of students with the opportunity to fulfill their educational goals.
Here’s a quick snapshot of what you can expect to find in our July newsletter:
-The Featured Article gives you the chance to test your Inquiry IQ and see how much you really know about inquiry generation
-Market Insights features our 2012 Benchmarking Report which highlights higher education marketing trends and challenges
-Product Spotlight on our Mobile Marketing Roadshow is packed with industry stats
-Monthly Webinar features our most popular webinar of the year!
In our 2012 Benchmarking Report (being released next week at APSCU!), we asked schools what were their highest priorities for 2012. We thought we’d give you a sneak peak of what they said.
With over a year since the Department of Education regulations came into effect, it’s clear that schools are definitely less concerned with compliance than they were last year. However, it is not off the radar yet, with compliance monitoring and enforcement remaining a priority for a nearly half (46%) of schools (versus 67% in 2011). Concern with inquiry volume has also decreased somewhat from last year, with only 42% of respondents indicating that it is a priority.
So, if compliance and inquiry volume concerns aren’t what’s keeping higher education marketers up at night, does that mean that they are worry-free in 2012? Not exactly.
This year, schools report that they are still very concerned about increasing inquiry quality, with 85% indicating that it is a priority in 2012. Schools have also shifted priorities and are now focusing more on inquiry analytics than last year. While there are a number of possible reasons for this, one stands out to us. As schools increasingly shift their focus to direct inquiry generation methods, they must find ways to stand out in a highly-competitive market filled with sophisticated affiliate marketers. This requires those schools to become equally sophisticated, and improving inquiry analytics is one effective way to do this.
Like what you see? Want to learn more? Visit us next week at APSCU for the full 2012 Benchmarking Report.
If you’re like most schools these days, you’re thinking about ramping up your digital marketing efforts. In fact, according to our recent Benchmarking Survey, more than 60% of respondents indicated they were increasing investment this year in areas like SEO, paid search, and social media.
But it isn’t enough to just allocate more budget to these channels; in order to be successful, you must first assess your current digital marketing efforts. Once you understand what’s working and what isn’t, you will be able to build upon your strengths and unlock untapped opportunities.
That’s where we come in. For a limited time, CUnet is offering a free digital marketing audit to schools who are interested in growing their digital marketing programs. Our digital marketing experts will provide a clear, customized assessment of your current online marketing initiatives and will highlight areas for improvement.
Your complimentary audit includes:
CUnet’s Pay-Per-Click experts will evaluate your site links for best practices, assess landing page quality, review relevance against web page copy, and evaluate visible URLs for optimal keyword copy.
Search Engine Optimization
Our SEO audit starts with the basics—like domain age, Google Page Rank, and backlinks—then reviews your strategy against a checklist of sophisticated key indicators including on-page and off-page elements.
CUnet’s Social Media audit not only looks at your presence on each major social media outlet, but also offers a sentiment analysis based on where and how your brand is portrayed in the social space.
Our email audit evaluates your performance metrics against industry baselines, assesses your adherence to evolving best practices from code to copy to design, and offers insights on how to lift performance through strategic segmented messaging.
Targeted Display Advertising
CUnet will review any current display advertising campaigns and provide recommendations for ways that your school can use this channel to reach and engage students.
Ready to get started? Click here to register. Space is limited to the first 25 registrants before June 15!
President Obama recently signed an Executive Order designed to improve the level of accountability for educational institutions when recruiting and enrolling veterans, military personnel, and their families. While the full implications on of the order are not yet clear, there is no question that higher education professionals – particularly those in recruitment marketing – need to be aware of the Order and ensure their recruitment processes are aligned with its goals. With that in mind, we’ve pulled together a quick overview of what the initial Executive Order suggests, and what schools can expect in the future as the “Principles of Excellence” proposed by the Order are developed in full.
For our own clients, we have also included some details on the steps that CUnet has taken to ensure our clients benefit from the most up-to-date compliance monitoring practices, and ensure that veterans, members of the military and their families have credible information to make the best education decisions for their careers.
What does the Executive Order cover?
The Department of Defense, the Veterans Administration, and the Department of Education are teaming up to examine eight developing principles that encompass the Order including: pre-enrollment counseling, federal financial aid information, fraudulent and aggressive recruiting practices, new program approval, readmission due to service, education planning, and academic and financial point of contact. Also in the planning stage is an enforcement piece, which includes creating a centralized complaint system and monitoring the use of military terminology on school and affiliate websites.
What does this mean for CUnet’s clients?
The full implications will be clear in the next 60 to 90 days, once the task force fleshes out the developing principles. However, the two principles that will need close attention for affiliate partners are the pre-enrollment counseling and fraudulent and aggressive recruitment practices. Clients will need to ensure that all partner sites are upfront and clear about the costs associated with attending their school and enrolling in courses to avoid charges from the government. President Obama also lists how recruiters are over-stepping; for example, recruiters seeking out Veterans Administration hospitals to specifically target military personnel that may be under qualified. Educational institutions will need to ensure they are following the guidelines to be provided by the government, which will include proper use of military language and avoiding military-targeted programs.
How is CUnet responding?
CUnet is taking a series of proactive steps to ensure their clients are protected once the regulations are in place. We will begin to police affiliate sites for additional key terms, including “GI Bill” and “Military”, while also extending to Enforce clients the option of constant monitoring and proactive searches for websites using military terms incorrectly. To learn more about CUnet’s actions to ensure compliancy in light of the new Executive Order, please click here.
Admit it—your email marketing strategy has fallen to the wayside. The glamor of social media has stolen the spotlight with its breakneck-speed evolution and endless buzz.
More of an afterthought in many organizations, email has really lost its thunder in the digital shuffle.
But this is one trusty marketing channel that deserves its fair share of TLC. Here are five reasons it’s time to shake the dust off your outdated email marketing strategy and reinvigorate your campaigns.
1. Email is high-ROI.
Email’s incredible ROI continues to dominate all other forms of digital marketing. For every dollar you spend on email, you stand to make $40, according to the Direct Marketing Association. Talk about bang for your buck!
Now is the time to invest well-honed email strategies. Ensure your campaigns offer value-centric content and clear calls to action to maximize results.
2. Email is more relevant than ever.
Thanks to the advent of the smartphone, an email renaissance is in full swing. Nokia Siemens estimates that there are 494 million mobile broadband subscribers in the entire world today — with 4.5 billion (yep, BILLION) anticipated by 2020. This exploding smartphone use is reaffirming the relevance of email marketing because email now goes everywhere we go.
To capitalize on this trend, be sure your messages render as well on mobile as they do on desktop and web-based email clients. Don’t forget to mobile-optimize landing pages too! And try some tests of unconventional email deployment times—you may be surprised by the results in this era of 24/7 accessibility.
3. Email is trusted.
In a recent survey of internet users, startup entertainment platform Adpropo found that respondents had a more positive perception of email advertising than any other form of digital marketing. CAN-SPAM regulations and savvy spam filters have advanced the cause of legitimate email marketing, building a level of trust between recipients and the brands that successfully land in inboxes.
Test your email thoroughly—and often—to ensure your messages are steering clear of junk boxes. Keep an eye on bounce results, too, for insights on rejected messages.
4. Email is engaging.
People really are reading your email—or at least giving it a good skim. The folks at Litmus, a premium email testing application, say that 77 percent of opened emails are read in the very best campaigns. The last five client messages we’ve tracked here at CUnet show roughly 80% of opens engaging for more than four seconds.
Be sure to include engagement time metrics in your email analyses, and experiment with new approaches when you see results falling short.
5. Email insights are free at CUnet.
For a limited time, CUnet will give your email marketing a complimentary once-over as part of its free digital marketing audit offer. We’ll evaluate your performance metrics against industry baselines, assess your adherence to evolving best practices from code to copy to design, and offers insights on how to lift performance through strategic segmented messaging.
Ready to get started?
If you work in higher education, particularly in the for-profit sector, you’ve likely heard that the “Ability to Benefit” or AtB program is ending this year. As a result of federal budget cuts, students without a high school diploma or GED will no longer be able to obtain Pell Grants if they enroll in college after July 1, 2012.
While the elimination of AtB is not the only change to the Pell Grants program this year*, it is arguably the most significant one, directly impacting access to education for some of the most needy, and underserved populations in the country.
AtB has allowed colleges and universities, particularly in the for-profit sector, to provide crucial training for low-income, low-skilled students – a market typically underserved by traditional schools. With the elimination of this program, those schools may need to make changes to both their program offerings and their recruitment efforts.
AtB Checklist for Schools
At CUnet, we are supporting a number of our clients through this change, helping them to understand the impact of the elimination of AtB, develop a plan to address the change, and finally look for ways to fill the void that will be left when these students are no longer able to access the necessary support to allow them to enroll in higher education.
If your school currently serves AtB students, you should start by considering the following questions:
- What % of your students are AtB students?
- Are you currently generating inquiries from AtB students?
- If yes, what % of your inquiries are AtB students?
- Have you made plans to stop the generation of AtB student inquiries? If yes, are you taking a phased approach?
- Do you need to find new sources of inquiries to replace the inquiries you have eliminated?
If you currently receive inquiries from AtB students, you may need to alter your media mix to address this Pell Grant change. Shifting over to affiliates specializing in high school graduates is an obvious approach. However, now is also a good time to consider other recruitment channels, including paid search, mobile and call products. With just over two months to go before the program is eliminated, it’s important to start transitioning now.
Finally, you should consider how your school can continue to serve and support the ATB market – an important group that desperately needs access to education to advance in their careers and lives. What creative initiatives can your school develop to support this group? Perhaps you can offer free GED study sessions in your cafeteria? We’d love to hear your ideas and plans to continue to address the needs of this group. A little creativity may result in loyal students who, GED in hand, now qualify for Pell Grants.
*Additional July 1 changes to the Pell Grants program include:
· Maximum duration to receive grants decreased from nine years to six (effective retroactively)
· Maximum annual income to qualify reduced from $30,000 to $23,000