Decoding Recruitment Marketing ROI, Part 2: Key Metrics for Measuring Success

In Part 1 of this blog series, we discussed the critical yet often overlooked process of evaluation — the ongoing loop of planning, executing and learning required when setting an effective recruitment marketing strategy. Now, let’s talk metrics. To evaluate the success of your recruitment marketing efforts — and, ultimately, decode Return on Investment (ROI) — it’s important to track and measure key metrics that provide meaningful insights. These include …

Conversion Rates: These help you gauge the effectiveness of your campaigns in driving funnel actions that lead to enrollment. This includes Inquiry-to-App Rate, App-to-Deposit Rate, and Deposit-to-Enrollment (or “Melt”) Rate.

Cost Per Lead: AKA “Cost Per Inquiry, this measures the expense to generate a single inquiry and can help you monitor the efficiency of your strategies and identify areas for cost optimization.

Engagement Metrics: Click-through rates, bounce rates, and time on site, these metrics provide insights into student interest and interaction with your recruitment marketing materials. These metrics helps you determine the effectiveness of your messaging and content and identify opportunities to improve engagement.

Sources: Tracking the source of inquiries and applicant helps you understand which marketing channels and strategies are driving the most qualified leads. By identifying the most effective sources, you can allocate your resources more efficiently and focus on the channels that yield the best results.

Return on Investment: ROI measures the profitability of your recruitment marketing efforts. It calculates the ratio of revenue generated to the amount invested in marketing activities. A positive ROI indicates that your marketing efforts are generating more revenue than the cost incurred.

By tracking and analyzing these key metrics, you can gain a comprehensive understanding of the success of your recruitment marketing efforts and effectiveness of your strategies, allowing you to make data-driven decisions and optimize your campaigns for better results.

ROI Calculation for Recruitment Marketing

ROI is a crucial metric that provides a clear picture of the value and effectiveness of your recruitment marketing.

Marketing ROI

Here’s how you can calculate ROI for your recruitment marketing efforts:

  1. Determine the total tuition revenue generated. This includes tuition and fees and any other sources of revenue directly attributed to your marketing campaigns.
  2. Calculate the total cost of your marketing activities. This includes expenses such as advertising costs, software subscriptions, printing and mailing costs, and any other marketing-related expenses.
  3. Subtract the total cost from the total revenue to calculate the net revenue generated from your recruitment marketing efforts.
  4. Calculate ROI as a percentage by dividing the net revenue by the total cost and multiplying.

For example, if your total revenue generated from recruitment marketing is $2,000,000 and the total cost incurred is $500,000, calculate ROI as follows:


The ROI calculation can be used to evaluate marketing efforts as a whole or to compare the return on investment for specific channels, programs, campaigns, and vendor partnerships.

Tracking and Analyzing Recruitment Marketing Data

By collecting and analyzing marketing data, you can gain insights into the effectiveness of your strategies and identify areas for improvement. Here are some steps to help you effectively track and analyze recruitment marketing data:

  • Define your goals and KPIs. Before you start tracking data, clearly define your goals and identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with those goals. This ensures that you are tracking metrics that provide meaningful insights into the success of your recruitment marketing efforts.
  • Implement tracking mechanisms. Use tracking mechanisms such as website analytics, lead management systems, and CRM tools to capture relevant data. Set up conversion tracking and leverage UTMs to measure the performance of your campaigns and track the source of your leads.
  • Regularly monitor and analyze your data. Regularly review your data to assess the performance of your recruitment marketing efforts. Look for trends, patterns, and areas of improvement. Analyze your conversion rates, cost per lead, engagement metrics, and other relevant data points to gain insights into the effectiveness of your strategies.
  • Conduct A/B testing. A/B testing involves comparing two versions of a marketing element to determine which performs better. By conducting A/B tests on your recruitment marketing assets (e.g., emails subject lines, ad creative, button copy, images on website pages), you can identify the most effective messaging, design, or call-to-action that resonates with your target audience.
  • Use data visualization tools. Data visualization tools help you present your data in a visual format, making it easier to understand and interpret. Utilize tools such as charts, graphs, and dashboards to visually represent your recruitment marketing data and identify trends and patterns.
  • Make data-driven decisions. Use the insights gained from your data analysis to make informed decisions about your recruitment marketing strategies. Identify areas for improvement, optimize your campaigns based on data-driven insights, and continuously monitor and evaluate the impact of your optimizations.

As recruitment marketing becomes more data-intensive, enrollment and marketing teams need new tools to manage and draw insights from a sea of information. While it’s possible to cobble together data from disparate platforms like website analytics tools, social media management tools, CRMs, and advertising platforms, the growing landscape of marketing means more manual analysis.

For busy enrollment and marketing leaders, the time investment required is simply unfeasible.

Using the Right Tool for the Job

Many institutions are electing to adopt marketing automation tools to manage the complexity of modern marketing. Marketing automation tools are built to streamline and optimize marketing processes, including lead generation, lead nurturing, and campaign management through:

  • CRM integrations that offer a complete picture of student engagement across the recruitment lifecycle.
  • Dashboards and metrics that provide key insights for optimizing campaigns across multiple.
  • Scoring and predictive models that feeds student behavioral data into intelligent communication engines to capture and nurture leads.
  • Segmentation and personalization for targeted campaigns with hyper-relevant messaging, making communication more effective and appealing.
  • Automated workflows that take over repetitive tasks like nurturing leads with scheduled emails, texts, or social media messages, freeing staff to focus on high-touch interactions and building relationships.

By integrating marketing automation technologies, like Capture Higher Ed’s ENGAGE, colleges and universities can improve marketing outcomes and create efficiencies to extend their capacity.

This blog series is adapted from Capture Higher Ed’s free guide, “Decoding ROI: Evaluating Recruitment Marketing Success.” Download the full guide here. The third and final installment of the series will cover best practices for improving ROI.

Christopher Harris, Ed.D., Senior Enrollment Strategist, Capture Higher Ed