I went to school outof state. Eerrr… wait, no I didn’t. My parents moved away while I was a freshman. That’s what going to school out-of-state means, right? I don’t go to school in the same state my parents live in? Anyhoo, I went to school in Missouri while my family moved to Kentucky. (Yeah, my family left me. What’s that say really? That’s for another day.)
The New York Times recently did a great piece on the mass exodus of students from their own state to other public colleges and universities. Forty-three of the 50 schools known as “state flagships” enrolled a smaller share of freshmen from within their states in 2014 than they had a decade earlier.
I’m gonna throw out some facts that I think you’ll respond with #ShockingNotShocking.
- California has the most student exports of over 17,000, while only accepting 4,600 from out of state
- Illinois and Texas aren’t far behind with 16,000 and 11,000 students leaving respectively
- 8x as many students flock to Arizona as leave it for college.
- University of Alabama has the most out-of-state students enrolled (over 70 percent)
- Nearly 5,000 students came to Kentucky as opposed to 1,500 who left. Horses, bourbon, basketball … what’s not to love?
No need to dive into the why’s — we get it. With declining state funding, out-of-state students simply provide a revenue source that in-state students can’t. It’s the state of the world we’re in, so let’s get to it.
How do you communicate with students more than 50 miles out, 250 miles out, heck 2,000 miles out? The good news is it’s easier now than ever.
And colleges have caught on, according to Education Marketing Group. While TV remains the strongest paid media outline, internet display advertising continues to rise, accounting for 27.4 percent of all advertising dollars spent, which includes social media spending.
Digital marketing, marketing automation and social media: That’s all great. But where does it lead? To your website. So first thing’s first. Get that bad boy looking good and up-to-date. Great photography, easy-nav … if you need some help, call me, I know people.
Since we know digital display dollars and marketing automation are on the rise, let’s start there. The University of Pittsburgh utilized both of these tactics to increase their brand awareness out of state with excellent results.
Utilizing IP Targeting campaigns to targeted F17 out-of-state prospects, they experienced a 0.28 percent Click Through Rate (CTR) — well above the 0.07 percent average for higher education, and even above Capture’s average of 0.15 percent. And then, with Capture’s behavioral engagement software, those prospect’s behaviors are now being tracked throughout their journey on Pitt’s website.
IP Targeting is just one digital option — Retargeting, Mobile Targeting, Geo-IP Targeting, and (my personal fave) Search Retargeting (oh where was this when I was working at ad agencies a decade ago?!) are just a few of the ways you can target your out-of-state prospects effective and very cost efficiently.
For Pitt’s focus on Illinois and Texas recruitment, they utilized marketing automation to help target those students visiting their website with 1:1 messaging, outlining topics that are relevant only to those prospective students: meet your counselor, visit us at “this location in your area next Saturday,” join our upcoming NACAC fair, your scholarship deadlines, waive your application fee.
Targeted messages resonate with those students.
These targeted messages are locked-and-loaded in the software’s rules and BAM! When Shawn from Chicago clicks on your banner ad and lands on your website, a pop-up message for “Illinois-Shawn” shares content just for him.
For University of Pittsburgh recruitment efforts in the state of Texas, 9.5 percent of prospects clicked the dynamic content and 25.9 percent of those downloaded the form and were contacted successfully by counselors. In the state of Illinois, it was 7.2 percent and 25.7 percent respectively who downloaded the content made available to them and then engaged with their counselor. This help led to Pitt’s most successful year in engagement with out-of-state prospects.
There are a lot of ways to engage students in the great beyond. Building a digital strategy to recruit out-of-state students is becoming easier than ever. According to ICEF Monitor, 91 percent of all humankind keeps their lifelines (aka: smartphones) only an arm’s length away — much closer than 2,000 miles.
Ellen Stubbs, Vice President of Marketing, Capture Higher Ed