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Top tip: target setting
Regardless of the goal, whether it is more bums on seats, better qualified or different types of students, a great website or prospectus, success or failure results from a series of actions by you and your target market, preceded by and alongside their thoughts, behaviours and experiences.
These are what you really need to consider when planning marketing to determine how best to influence and effect positive change. Any marketing activities and metrics should follow on and reflect this. Think about:
Competitiveness + relevance + accessibility + timeliness + value + customer service + engagement + satisfaction + conversion + yield + loyalty + referral
How do yours measure up?
Starting my career in education marketing two decades ago, marketing metrics were rudimentary to say the least: it was all about volume. 'SMART' objectives often involved plucking a random % increase from air in [applications / enquirers / prospectus requests / Open Day visitors/ student numbers etc.] with little accountability or follow-up to analyse target versus actual performance.
Fast forward to 2018 and numbers are more important than ever: companies and league tables are dedicated to monitoring the key performance indicators (KPIs) associated with the success and failure of universities and colleges. Budget pressures have led top tables to (understandably) question the value for money (VFM) and return on investment (ROI) of marketing/student recruitment, leading to a burgeoning industry in marketing dashboards, not to mention requests for me to develop marketing strategy and review marketing.
While percentage-based increases may still merit a place within the measurements you use to demonstrate the effectiveness of marketing channels and activities, bigger is not always better. Eg, funnelling more people to a poor website or enquiry management experience will likely put them off and damage your reputation, while increasing applications from people unlikely to ever set foot in your door is a waste of everyone's time and money. Instead, take a step back and think about what it is you really want to achieve, and the thoughts, behaviours and experiences marketing can influence. Why not take inspiration from my list of EMMIS (Education Marketing Metrics, Indicators & Statistics)?