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Podcasts The Enrollify Podcast Episode 137
Why Higher Ed Needs Better Parent Engagement Strategies
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Dave Becker: I believe it's around 95% of parents want regular emails from you, and that's pretty easy to do, whether you're using a CRM or using MailChimp, which is just to get that email flow going. Um, and so if nothing else, that is your [00:01:00] starting point. Think about your rfi. Your RFI doesn't even collect parent information.
I have twins that are in 11th grade, and when I check out schools, I have to put in my information like I'm a student cause I can't even indicate that I'm a parent.
Zach Busekrus: All right, Dave. We're live. Dude. How you doing?
Dave Becker: I am doing great, Zach.
Zach Busekrus: Thanks for having me. I, I'm excited to have you. I, we were talking just before we hit recorder, how it's been a little bit of, a little bit of a nightmare trying to find a time when both you and I can chat. But the good news is I actually got to Google you because I had [00:02:00] a little bit more time and read a little bit about things you've done and people you know.
So that's, that's good, man, that, that should, uh, that should yield a better conversation. ,
Dave Becker: anything I should, uh, be concerned about that you found on me, about me online?
Zach Busekrus: No, no. You know, I, I pretty, you know, I kept it pg, um, so, yeah. Um, well, Dave Becker, you are the CEO of campus p and i, I don't know if this is just me and maybe you guys have been like, Around a lot longer than, than I realized, but I feel like in over the last 12 months, I just see campus e s p, like everywhere now.
Like, whereas it wasn't you, you guys weren't on my radar before. I, I know that you guys were around, you weren't on my radar before the last 12 months, but now I, I feel like I see you all, uh, everywhere. So for those who might not be familiar with campus esp, can you just give us a kind of a quick little overview of, of who you all are and what you do.
Dave Becker: Yeah, campus. S p we're still startup [00:03:00] stage. We work with about, uh, 260 colleges, colleges and universities, and we help them, uh, engage parents and families. Parents are really influential when it comes to helping their, their kids find a school that's the right fit for them, and then also succeed at at school.
So we help schools engage with parents of prospective students, parents of current students. And the goal with all that is really student success. Parents are really influential and we help colleges communicate with them.
Zach Busekrus: Yeah, yeah. Now, you were at Ellucian, right? For a while. Is that right? Before,
Dave Becker: yeah, I was there for, for 14 years.
That's actually the reason my hair was gray. So 14 years I was there, and when I left I was the senior Vice President of Product over Banner.
Zach Busekrus: Okay. Okay. Very, very cool. What, uh, what brought you to Ed Tech in the first place? Like what's the story?
Dave Becker: So in a former life, I actually used to be an auditor. Uh, really?
And, uh, yeah, I graduated, got a CPA license, and, uh, the firm that I was at, [00:04:00] Required that you had to audit something in the summer and it was either hospitals or colleges or universities. Huh. So my first audit client actually was Villanova University. No way. Um, and that was a long time ago, and I'll just leave it
Zach Busekrus: at that
Wow. And so from there, what, like, you get this itch of, huh? There's higher education is needs a lot of help. And maybe I have the, you know, unique skill set. To bringing the industry some value or where do you go? Where do you go after, after your experience In Villanova, it was
Dave Becker: actually two s. Number one, I had to get out of accounting and audit, so that was number one and number two, um, it was interesting.
One of the partners at the accounting firm I was at knew the CFO at what was called S CT at the time. Okay. Which then became Sun Garden, became Ellucian and uh, . He was like, look, we've got this guy on staff who's. Who's good, but he doesn't belong in audit. So I [00:05:00] basically joined, um, Ellucian at that point and had different roles at Ellucian as you would for 14 years.
And then I just, uh, Just loved it, loved being on campus, love, loved the mission of higher education. Um, always loved and appreciated technology and making technology easy to use. Um, so that's where I've been for the last
Zach Busekrus: 25 years. Wow. Okay. So from there, where does campus e s P come into the picture? Like, at what point in time does this idea, uh, begin to percolate?
And, and at what point in time do you, do you start campus esp?
Dave Becker: I think in every professional's life cycle, there comes a time where you go through kind of like a, I dunno, midlife crisis, I guess, where you just wanna hit the reset button. Hmm. So I've been at Ellucian for 14 years. I knew I wanted to do something else and I have a, a long history of entrepreneurship in my family and I knew I wanted to try to build something.
So I took off, I called it the summer of Dave, where I just took, I [00:06:00] was fortunate that I had the resources to take off an entire summer. And, uh, I just thought about ideas about how to, how to, how to help students focus on student success and then use some of the information I had from a technology perspective to make, just make an impact on student success.
So the original idea for campus E s P was around, um, a student engagement system. Okay. And, uh, um, uh, during the summer of Dave, I, I talked with, uh, some of my colleagues and friends, and one of, one of the people I connected with, he was like, you know, He's like, there are so many student engagement systems out there.
He's like, and the issue is, is like students don't even use them. Hmm. You know, who's using these systems? Parents are using these systems, ah, for their students. And I was kind of like blown away. I didn't believe this individual, we were having a drink at a bar at at the time, so I was like, Tell you what, can you hold up your beer and can I take a picture of this?
If this is a real thing? I wanna remember this moment, , and I actually have this moment. No, I, he's [00:07:00] from a bar called The Mill in Abilene, Texas. I live in Philadelphia, by the way. I actually traveled to see this guy and uh, yeah, that was, that was the birth of campus P wow. At
Zach Busekrus: Mark. Wow. So, In terms of timeline, is this like three years ago, four years ago?
Where are we at in, in the history of campus? Esp it's,
Dave Becker: it's embarrassing for me because it's like 2013. Okay. Is really when it's the idea. That's the idea. One of the, one of the things about like a startup is you will hear like, oh, I've been working on this two years, four years. Don't believe it. It's always twice as long as what people tell you.
So I was kind of working on campus ESP nights and weekends as I was kind of like incubating the idea. I wasn't actually sold on the idea. So really the birth of campus esp, the idea happened in 2013. It really wasn't until 2015 that we got our first customer in 2017 that I actually jumped into it full time.
Zach Busekrus: Did you like. [00:08:00] I, I hope that this is okay to ask. I, I'm known for just kind of like asking questions, so if, if this is like inappropriate or like, you know, whatever, then we can, we can bloop it out later. But, um, did you, did, how did Ellucian feel about, like, you working on campus? Esp Like, did you, did, were they aware of it?
Did they think about like, Hey, what have you just built this, you know, as another one of our products within our portfolio? Like, what was that dynamic like?
Dave Becker: No, they're too focused working on focusing on seven letter acronyms to like really focus on parents. I, I don't think, I don't think that parents are really on their radar.
Yeah. And, um, and you know, I, I had worked with Ellucian for a long, long time. Yeah. Um, it never, it never really even came up as a discussion point. I mean, really it was. When, when this individual was like, Hey, you know, you should think about parents. I had never heard that idea before. Yeah. So to me it was, it was, it was mind blowing.
And then actually the next two years I just surveyed parents, [00:09:00] worked with schools to really understand how were parents engaging. So I would love to work with Ellucian, other, other tech companies. Like, I think there's, I, I think it's, it's crazy that other tech c. And even some colleges and universities don't do anything with parents.
Yeah. It's, it's really something that has been kind of pushed off to the side at least until the last couple years or so.
Zach Busekrus: Yeah. Yeah. No, I mean, I, I you're a hundred percent right. It's funny, we do these things called road shows where we'll go out and we'll just like go to college campuses and just like hold up a whiteboard that says, you know, talk to us about your college search experience, and we'll give you like a $5 Amazon gift card or $5 Starbucks gift card.
So we were, we were in California, uh, a few months ago, and we were actually in San Francisco, so we went to a few schools there. And the number of students, like one of the questions we would ask folks is just like, who was influential in, in your decision to, to go to college? Uh, and, and specifically kind of where to go to college and.
When I, when I was going to school, I [00:10:00] really didn't want my parents' feedback like I really did. I was not interested in, in what they thought. Um, obviously, you know, I, I wanted a broad stroke understanding of like what they wanted out of me for my life, , but I, I really wasn't interested in like their opinion on where I would go to school.
Whereas these people, these students like Gen Z. Just about every single person that we talked to talked about how much time they spent talking to their parents and, and with their parents about their college decision. And I was just, I was just kinda like blown away by that because, you know, I, I only a few years, I guess maybe a decade now, uh, older than them, but, but just how, how times have like, shifted, right.
And like how it does seem like this, these next generat. Really do value their parent feedback. And it just also seems like parents are way more involved in the college search process than they were even when I was going to school.
Dave Becker: Yes. To all of that. And, uh, when I was doing some early research about parent involvement, even before we [00:11:00] built anything with campus e s P, the student reactions were always the most surprising.
I'll give you one example, which was, uh, tar and State turned out they, they actually became our first customer. Carton is, carton State is, is a couple hours outside of Dallas. They degree program. So they're, they're a rural institution. Okay. Um, and so I was, uh, interviewing students and, you know, I'm from Philadelphia.
I, there's not much, there's not much masculinity going on here. Whereas I'm actually interviewing students that have. Wearing cowboy hat, belt buckles that are like bigger than like my fist. And like, and then, you know, I'm asking them, so, so tell me about your parents thinking like, we don't wanna talk about their parents, but in reality they were super excited to tell me about how their parents played a role in their education, finding the right school, and even how they would succeed through that school.
So, That was eye [00:12:00] opening for me. And then all of a sudden the pandemic hits. Actually not all of a sudden, many years later, the pandemic hits and now parents expect communication from their students school. Um, uh, 85% of them expected at least weekly, which is crazy. So those, those, those involvement expectations from the student and from the parent are really, Definitely there's a generational thing happening here.
There's a cultural thing happening here, and I think colleges are just now realizing how influential parents
Zach Busekrus: are. Yeah. Yeah. So on that note, when, when you talk about being this, you know, family and parent engagement system, what, what, what exactly does that mean? Like, help us, help us kind of understand the, the lay of the land around.
Family and parent engagement looks like or should look like with respect to a student's journey to college?
Dave Becker: I think for lots of different families it means [00:13:00] lots of different things. So there isn't one path that parents should take, that students should take. So we always try to like make sure that the level of communication we're providing is appropriate to that family.
Some, some parents want communication weekly, some want it less, someone want it over email, someone in a portal, some want it over text messages. So what we try to do is just make it simple for the college or university to, to provide that to the parent. And we, we do what we call with nudging, the nudger.
The parent is the ultimate nudger, right? So the parents trying to help the student. Um, and if you're sending information, that's person. To the parent at the right time, it can actually make a big difference in where the student enrolls. So for example, if you know that a parent has a student that is at, um, the deposit stage Yeah.
And you nudge that parent about the deposit deadlines, you're going to see an [00:14:00] impact, um, with your deposit results. So what we try to do, even at the most basic level, is understand where the student is in the enrollment stage and. Enrollment stage specific messaging to the parent and all different outcomes there.
But generally, at the end of the cycle, we see that students that are getting messaging from campus, e p. 5% higher yield on average, which is, you know, which is great.
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You can learn email@example.com. Happy holidays.
Do you think about this as like, do you think about campus P as sitting, sort of like shotgun to a school's like crm? So the CRM is primarily kind of focused on student communications and student engagement. [00:16:00] From, you know, prospective students, sometimes kind of through to current students, um, depending on when the SIS takes over.
Is, is campus e p like riding shotgun to, to the crm? Is it integrated with the crm? Is it, is it a CRM in and of itself? Could you do your own student, your student, you know, communications through campus? Like how do you guys think about yourself within the context of, uh, an institution's broader technology?
Dave Becker: I think how you put it is, right. I think we're, we're running shotgun to the crm. We're ma we're, we're taking information that's in the CRM and we're, we're applying it to parents. And you know, the reality is you could probably figure some of this stuff out in the CRM if you had the resources and the time to do it.
Yeah. For a lot of our schools, they don't have that. They're looking for the expertise. They're looking for the best practices. Our, uh, implementation timeframe is only about two weeks. So it's really, yeah, it's really quick. Much different than some of the other [00:17:00] companies that I've worked with, worked at in the past.
And, um, we work collaborative collaboratively with the crm, so, um, We are a slate preferred partner, you know, and, and we're not, we're not looking to replace the CRM by any
Zach Busekrus: means. How do you guys help schools think about their parent engagement strategies? What are, what are, I guess, what are some things that you guys are like, what are, what are some of your philosophies?
Dave Becker: So philosophically do something, you, you have to do something with parents. It's just so influential. And then if you start looking. Some of the data that's out there and we, we publish a lot of data with our partner, Reno Levitz. And, um, one of the DA big data points is that I believe it's around 95% of parents want regular emails from you.
Hmm. And that's pretty easy to do, whether you're using a CRM or using MailChimp, which is just to get that email flow going. Um, and so if nothing else, that is your starting. [00:18:00] Think about your rfi. Your RFI doesn't even collect parent information. I have twins that are in 11th grade and when I check out schools, I have to put in my information like I'm a student.
Cause I can't even indicate that I'm a parent. Hmm. And when you think about Covid and some of these students haven't really, you know, really fully develop into, you know, an adult yet, like the parents are more involved than ever. So I think, I think first, Recognize parents want emails. Secondly, collect parent information.
And then three, you know, make sure you have a, a place or capacity to measure whether it's making an impact as well. Hmm. Um, because I think a lot of schools just do to the parents of Yeah. But they're not really sure whether that's working or not. So I think it's, you know, resources from not even a monetary perspective, but.
From a personnel perspective are so constrained right now. You just really have to [00:19:00] decide what bets you wanna place. Yeah. And you really think engagement is, is a bet that's gonna pay off
Zach Busekrus: for you? Yeah. Yeah. That, that's well said. I, I wonder, like, so when I think about, College, it's, it's, it's often, it's this rite of passage, right?
For for many individuals where it's like, yeah, you're, you are graduating from being a child and you are like becoming an adult, right? At least in theory. And so I, you know, I think part of it is part of it, part of the reason why some schools might not have a parent engagement strategy is cuz it's like, hey, like.
No, no, no. Like you don't, like parents are, you're done with your parents, right? Like we know that that's not true. And we know that with its generation, next generations in particular, that's even less true than maybe it was, uh, with previous generations. But like, I guess, how do you sort out that tension?
Like how do you think about, you know, still wanting to respect the fact that colleges are treating these. Col, you know, these high school juniors and seniors like adults, especially in how they're, they are addressing limited, you know, communications that, that might exist to parents. How do you think through [00:20:00] that tension?
Like, is it, is it, is it appropriate to, uh, you clearly think it is appropriate to have a parent engagement strategy, but like how should schools like. Hash hash through that, if that makes sense. Sorry, that was a cumbersome question, but No,
Dave Becker: it's a good question. And, and Zach, I've definitely played through it in my own mind many times when, when, when I first thought of campus e s P, like I actually didn't like the idea because of all these preconceived notions around what parent engagement, parent involvement should or shouldn't be.
Hmm. Um, I'll tell you what, flipped the switch for. Which was the cost of education. Like it has gone up so much. There is so much more student debt, and oftentimes parents play a part in that debt. So think about this. You're, you're, you know, you're asking for parents to step aside and let their 17 year old or 18 year old make a decision about investment and debt that could impact them for the rest of their lives.[00:21:00]
and you don't think parents should be involved in that. When you start thinking about the debt aspect of things, I think it makes sense and it's easy to say. Parents need to let their students succeed or fail. But the reality is it's such a big investment. Yeah. Parents feel like they need to play a role and I think it's an appropriate role, especially from the financial perspective.
Zach Busekrus: Yeah, that's a, that's a very, very valid point, especially just given how financially illiterate a lot of us, you know, are at that, at that stage. Um, it, right. And, and you know, I think that, that, um, That makes a lot of sense. That's, that's an interesting way of framing it. So, when you think about the role that admissions teams and marketing teams at colleges and universities should play in better engaging parents are, do you, do you have like a couple like models or frameworks that you'd suggest folks, folks think through or experiment with?
If they, if they wanna get started on something, but they haven't done anything [00:22:00] historically outside of a, you know, a letter upon the child's accept.
Dave Becker: Um, yeah, I, well, I think there's a lot of resources on our website. Um, we, we try to not focus so much on campus p as much as we focus more on just parent engagement.
And what are some of the results? What are some of the strategies? What's the content you want to send? When do you wanna send it? Um, so I mean, , I. I would start there because there's not many other resources out there. It's kind of crazy. There's just not a lot of research on student success and parent engagement and parent involvement besides folks like George, COO and, and, and some, some people have done very limited research on it.
So I think starting on the website is a good, good point. I think you're seeing more and more sessions at conferences like MAC a Yeah. Um, where it's coming up, but. It's limited. I mean, [00:23:00] really, it's, it's limited out there.
Zach Busekrus: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That's, that's interesting. Do you, do you think there'll be a. I could imagine, for instance, right, having somebody on an admissions team who does actually, like they are the parent liaison or the parent ambassador, or like the parent counselor.
Right? Um, in terms of kind of org structures, are you guys seeing any sort of shifts or changes with campus ESP clients? Are you, are you hearing things even anecdotally around like how schools are at least more progressive institutions who wants to take this seriously, are thinking about staffing this appropriately?
Dave Becker: yeah, I mean, we really like when the person who's responsible for parent family engagements in enrollment because parents play such a big part Yeah. In not only student yield, but also student retention. Yeah. So when you start thinking, and Zach you mentioned earlier, like a parent engagement strategy, um, I think it's, it's better to think about parent engagement as part of a broader strategy around [00:24:00] enrollment.
We're definitely seeing more trends to, um, enrollment being very involved since the pandemic hit. Yeah. Um, we're seeing more folks from marketing and communications get involved. That's probably been the biggest shift over the last two years. Marketing communications was kind of off to the side and it was, this was kind of like a, like a nice to have, but not a need to have.
Now, it feels like parent engagement's definitely a need to. and so there are more and more schools looking for a solution or looking to like create the solution on their own, which is
Zach Busekrus: fine. Yeah. Yeah. Do you guys have any data, uh, around like how, how bringing parents into the conversation into sort of the recruitment process, so to speak, how that ends up influencing.
Enrollment or any other sort of like metrics you have on the benefit, if you will, with respect to an institutions like bottom line, which is obviously to in many contexts in an enrollment specific context to, to yield, [00:25:00] right. The, the greatest class that you can, any data you have on how, you know, the active engagement with parents does achieve that end.
Dave Becker: Yeah, there's a couple stats that we usually like tie back to because we, we've done the research, we've, we've crunched the numbers and the first one is that we generally on average see 5% higher student yield for students that. Have a parent in campus, esp. And I don't think it's really about having a parent in campus ESP as much as having a parent engagement strategy, I would say.
Yeah. Yeah. That's, that's number one. Number two, we see that students are, are more likely to submit their application if you influence or get parents at the top of the funnel, um, and reach out to them. And this is a struggle for schools cuz most schools start engaging. At the app
Zach Busekrus: stage? Yeah.
Dave Becker: Yeah. So almost all of our schools are saying, okay, how can we reach parents earlier in the process?
Cuz we know they're gonna be, they're gonna, they're gonna have so much more [00:26:00] influence if you reach them earlier. That's number two. And then the third thing is, it's really interesting that you can use parent engagement as a predictor for student likelihood to enroll. Hmm. So, in the top quartile of parent engagement, this is another stat that we have.
We find that students are on. Three times more likely to enroll if their parents are in the top quartile of engagement. And then we have this crazy stat, which is if a parent goes into our portal and updates their personal information, hmm, their student is 11 times more likely to enroll, which is crazy.
Wow. But you can use it as you're trying to model your class and understand where you're at from an enrollment perspective and whether the student's gonna ultimately enroll. If you have a parent who is very engaged, more than likely, They're students interested in your institution.
Zach Busekrus: What's, what's really cool about this is I, I'm thinking just as, as, uh, you're, you're talking Dave, about [00:27:00] how schools could do this really, really well and yield, you know, a better class, but also.
Yield better students in that class, right? That are, that are actually more prepared for college. Thinking about like, you know, what, what would it look like for more progressive institutions to set up, uh, you know, post inquiry, uh, drip campaigns, if you will, for parents, right? Where it looks like, hey, here are like three really good questions to ask your.
Student as you talk about college, Hey, here are three YouTube videos that we actually recommend you watch when you think about financing college. Hey, here. Like, you know, what does it look like to farm out really, you know, dynamic, interesting content to parents that isn't just, Hey, by the way, we sent Jimmy an email.
Like, get on Jimmy to respond. Right? Or like, go, go tell Sally to like, finish her damn application, right? And like, I, I think done, done poorly. That's what parent engagement looks like, is, is. The nudge, nudging of the nudger in like a very direct, explicit way where I think there's huge opportunity here to, again, yield not just a better class of [00:28:00] students, but also just a, a much more equipped class of students looks like.
How do you help parents better prepare their students for college period, right, for adulthood. Period. And then of course, the, the results that schools care a lot about, seeing that uptick in enrollment, whatnot, all that will come. And I think the parent will just grow in dramatic trust of your brand, which, which is, you know, quite helpful for things beyond just enrollment, but also also things like student retention.
Also things like, uh, alumni giving, you know, at the end of the day, if the parent feels like they're a part of this story from, from the offset, they'll be an advocate for.
Dave Becker: We call that like the parent engagement life cycle, which of course, models or, or mirrors the, uh, the student engagement life cycle. But yeah, we also see parent giving.
One of our, one of our partner schools, university of Delaware, they saw, um, I think 10% of parents made a first year. Parents made a gift. Before move in day. [00:29:00] Wow. Which is, yeah, this is crazy, right? I mean, parents want to be involved. Schools should let them be involved because they're such a big influencer over students.
But also like your, your outcomes, you know, all your different goals that are out there, like you said, from yield to retention to giving. Um, they, they definitely play a role. And I'll throw one more fact out there that we saw in the very early days, and we now see it across every single one of our schools.
Who are the families that are most engaged? It is parents of first generation students, African American families, aesthetic, Latinx families. These families have the highest levels of engagement, but oftentimes have the least resources or the least knowledge about how to best support their students. So from day one, this was always kind of like the mission of campus p.
Student success is family success. Right? And so, um, how do we empower those families to better support their students? And you have to reach them. Yeah. And [00:30:00] you have to make an effort. You have to have a strategy
Zach Busekrus: to go about it. I'm also thinking about these communications that might extend beyond enrollment.
Right. Um, I'm thinking about like conversation starters and topics of like being able to, when your kid comes home for Thanksgiving, right. Being able to ask like a good question because you actually have a sense. What, what's been happening at their school. Right. Um, and like being able to, you know, even ask a, a, a question about culture.
Like, hey, like, so I got this, you know, email and on the 17th of November, everyone at this school does what, like, what, what's the story here? Right? Like, I think it, there's this unique opportunity to, again, help. Parents maintain relationship with their student in a meaningful way while they're away at school.
Which, which again, like I think about again, coming back from like for winter break or Christmas, whatever it was, talking to parents and, and, and it just felt like a totally different world. Like you felt like you were back in like high school days. Right. And I think that there's [00:31:00] a, there's a really cool opportunity if, if leveraged appropriately and well.
Continue to help both parents and students kind of like maintain even even more meaningful relationships once they go off to college.
Dave Becker: Yeah. Yes. To all that. And um, you know, some folks might be like, well, how much is too much? And I think that's, that's a fair question, right? Like, you want, you want the students to have independence, critical thinking, and you don't want parents to hurt, hurt that right.
Um, and I think there's always a balance. That's why we always say like, what's the appropriate level of parent engagement? And it's probably different for different types of families. Um, but you're not gonna necessarily change that overall macro trend, which is students want their parents to be involved.
Yeah. And parents want to be involved. So then if you can't change it, how do you shape it? How do you change the narrative so that you can actually, um, help the students? And I'll give it another example, which is one of my long time examples from one of our earliest partners, Penn State Outing. [00:32:00] They, um, had a career fair that, you know, they had every year.
And the only thing they changed with the messaging of this career fair is they sent out the notification to parents about the career fair and what they saw was 40% higher participation from the students in the career fair. And they're like, look, we didn't change anything except we sent out a message to the parent.
And that nudges the nudger concept. You know, it's an, it influences enrollment decisions, but it also influence. Decisions that the student is making while they're at your university, that could really play a part in their success. So we get really jazzed about that. That's, you know, another great example of how parents can, can help with
Zach Busekrus: success.
Have you all dabbled with, um, The ability for parents to engage with other parents of existing students. Like, you know, you, you, you see Uni buddy, right? For example. Right? Which is, they're kind of like leading the way in peer to peer kind of student recruitment. This [00:33:00] idea that I can go and message a current student that likes the same things that I like and is studying the same things that I wanna study.
Have you guys seen and or do you offer any sort of like parent to parent, um, engage. We
Dave Becker: haven't yet. Yeah, we're looking at it. Yeah, we know. We know. You have to be very careful there. Yeah. We don't wanna become Facebook 2.0, which I think for a lot of schools, you know, Facebook's very difficult to maintain.
I know for, for people who are listening right now, they're like, oh, my parent Facebook page is painful and. Yeah, we don't want it to get out of, out of control and you, you really have to control the tone and the message. But yeah, there are definitely parents who want to be your advocates. Yeah. Right. But where I see where most of our schools are right now is those parents that are interested in your institution, that are in campus, esp, they actually want to hear from your current students.
Hmm. Yeah. Like that's what they want to hear [00:34:00] about. Like they wanna hear from current students, they want to, they wanna. Hear, see that this student like reminds them of their son or daughter, and then they want to hear about that student, how successful they are. Yeah. So having those student stories and those videos go out to parents.
That's something that really moves
Zach Busekrus: parents. Yeah, yeah. No, I believe it. Um, so Dave, I'm, I'm curious what other, if you have any other ideas for how marketing admissions folks who are tuning into this conversation might begin to build and or implement their own parent engagement strategies. Any, any sort of like, Hey, if you, you only got a little bit of time, you only got a few resources to get started.
Here are kind of a couple things that I'd re.
Dave Becker: I think I'd probably go back to some of the things I said earlier, which is on your rfi, make sure that parents can, um, indicate that, that they're interested in receiving information and treat them not like you treat the student, but you know, personalize the content that [00:35:00] you recognize that they're a parent.
That's number one. Yeah. Number two, you probably have a ton of content that the parents want and need, and it's just all being sent out to the student, so, Look at your content calendar, your drip marketing and just say, okay, we're gonna change this. We're gonna flip it around and focus it more on parents.
Yeah. Um, I think that would be my starting point. And then how do you get it to parents? Yeah. I mean, you can go through all the normal channels, but I would say you need to make sure email is the big focus. Although what we're seeing is texting becoming more important, especially for families of first generation students, families that have lower levels of.
I would definitely start with email. It's, it's, it's cost effective. And like I said, you probably already have a content calendar on the student side. Um, that would probably probably be my starting
Zach Busekrus: point. Well said. One more just clarifying question around, around how Campus P works too. So if a, if an individual is interested in, like, um, partnering with campus ESP to [00:36:00] help with their parent engagement strategy, what is, what are, like, what does that look like?
Like am I, does it look like a crm but just for parents or like, like what, talk to us I guess a little bit about kind of the, the product that is campus esp,
Dave Becker: right. Um, yeah, I mean, it, it seems like a lightweight crm. Yeah. I dunno from, from. Technology experience days, I guess I, I always think of, uh, there are the nouns and there are the verbs, right?
The nouns are what you're tracking, and the verbs are what are the systems doing? What is the system doing? The nouns for campus e p are parents content and what we call communities like groups, almost like Facebook groups. And so you need to have a strategy for each of them. How are you gonna find those parents?
How are you gonna pull them in? Um, how are you gonna get 'em the information? They need, when they need it. On the content side, what's the right information to send, um, what's most effective to nudge them along the past so they can help their student. And then on the community [00:37:00] side or those groups, um, of parents, how can you drive insight out of like, you know, in-state parents versus out
Zach Busekrus: of state parents.
Dave Becker: Parents of athletes versus parents of honor students. So all that stuff, when you really start getting into it gets complicated. And campus ESP kind of pulls it together and simplifies it all in one place. Um, I, I really think the, the, the best thing we do is not the technology, it's that we roll it out in two weeks and then there's a team of people that have the best practices that say, this is what worked at this school.
You should try this here. And so it's, it's literally our customer success. Most of whom are from higher education, who can kind of step you through that process. And a lot of times, like schools will just reach out to us and just, you know, just start the conversation and then it, you know, as what typically happens in higher education, it's not necessarily an overnight decision, it's just something, you know, you start working with us, start talking with us, and then.[00:38:00]
If and when the time feels right, then, then that's when they partner
Zach Busekrus: with us. No, that makes a lot of sense. I appreciate you, uh, outlining that. Just so everyone's got kind of clarity around, you know, who, who you guys actually are and, and what the, what the actual product is. My, my last question for you, uh, Dave, is, is around hot takes you have on the future of higher ed.
So this is a question I'd like to ask folks who have been in and around the industry for, for a little bit. Obviously, you know, depending on what you read and then how often you read it. Um, there's lots of strong opinions around the future of higher education, uh, especially in the moment we're living in right now, kind of still coming out of this pandemic.
Obviously Covid was really tough on the industry, but, um, there's also a lot of opportunities. So when you think about the future of higher ed over the next just handful of years, let's say four or five years, what are, what are some hot takes you have or some things that you. Folks need to be wary of. I appreciate you asking that [00:39:00] question,
Dave Becker: and I feel like, you know, the answer that always comes up is the demographic cliff and, you know, the enrollment pressures that that schools are under.
I'm gonna steer away from that. I'm gonna focus on the tech angle, something that's been coming up a bunch, which is, which is, um, schools really focus on. Narrowing their investments to like a couple vendors? Yeah. Because they want to just focus on one vendor relationships. They wanna simplify things completely, get it completely.
Don't think it's a winning strategy because. These bigger vendors, they just don't innovate as fast as you need. Innovation to keep pace with trends. Like Zach, at the top of this, you talked about, Hey, how come Ellucian isn't isn't doing this stuff? How come you know these other vendors aren't doing it?
And it's just like parent engagement didn't even exist really as a strategy until five years ago. So, So I think it's important, like, you know, today there's campus esb. Tomorrow there's gonna be another [00:40:00] startup. We're able to innovate faster, we're able to, um, respond to changing market needs faster. And a lot of times people are nervous about like the flow of data back and forth.
Yeah. And it's, and that, I don't know if I'd be that scared of that anymore. There's really modern architectures out there. Most schools are used to passing data back and forth. There are security agreements, there's security protocols with the heck that from Ed. Cause all different things out there. I would lean into the startups that are out there to help define your enrollment strategy.
You need to obviously have an sas, you need to have a crm, but they're not going to do everything for you. You're gonna have to look for winning solutions that address a core problem for you that you can implement fast. And that's probably gonna come from some startups out there. Um, so that would be my hot take.
Don't fear the startup. [00:41:00] Um, It's, they're just innovating a lot faster than the big guys
Zach Busekrus: out there. I like that that was, uh, that, that's different. And so well said. I, I couldn't agree more. I also feel like what happens is it's because of the startups, it's because of the campus ESP of the world that some of the other folks end up eventually.
Changing and or, and or innovating, because you all have, have set the groundwork for, oh, no, no, no. This is, this is now a thing. And I do, I do feel like in, in higher education specifically, there's, there's, we're going through this like massive technological revolution and where we're, where we are going I think is schools are going to have a variety of systems.
They're probably gonna have more than they've ever had before, not less, right. But the difference is, is going to be, You know, you're gonna be able to, Dave, you're gonna be able to use whatever tool you want to get the thing done that you need to get done. I'm gonna be able to use whatever tool I want to get the thing done that I need to get done, and those tools are gonna talk to each other.
Right, right. And like that, that's ultimately where we're going. So just to, you know, double down on the point you already [00:42:00] made, I think that. Less is not actually always more, less is not actually, uh, always better. Sometimes more is, is actually better. Yes. And I think in this context that makes, um, that makes a lot of sense.
Well, sir, I'm, I'm super appreciative of you and your time and, uh, your team and what you all are doing. I think that this is, this is great. This is really, really important for the industry. I think that's, it totally aligns with everything I, you know, Podcast series right now, uh, that by the time this, this episode airs, there'll be two episodes into, into this other series with, that we did with Uni Buddy.
And, you know, we're talking all about their student pulse reports, where they just went and interviewed Gen Z, you know, thousands of them. And, uh, one of the big trends is like they want their parents to be involved in their college decisions. So like you guys are certainly on trend with what you're doing and what you're building.
And I think it's only a matter of time before more schools really have to wrestle with the question of. Do I need a parent engagement strategy bit? What does my parent engagement strategy look like? Right. Well,
Dave Becker: Zach, thank you for having me on the [00:43:00] program. I really enjoyed. Lots of energy, lots of great discussion.
I, I also love that you agreed with my hot takes, so thank you for that. That's fantastic as well. And, and, uh, yeah, thank you very much for the opportunity.
Zach Busekrus: Wonderful. And if you're tuning into this episode and want to learn more about Dave and or the team at campus esp, you can just scroll down to the show notes.
We'll have their website linked below. We'll have Dave's social, uh, handles linked below. So go ahead and reach out to, to him and his team. Thanks everyone for tuning in.
Hey all, Zach here from Enrollify. I hope you enjoyed this episode of the Enrollify podcast. If you like this episode, do us a huge favor and hit that follow and subscribe button blow. Furthermore, if you've got just two minutes to spare, we would greatly appreciate you reading a rating and a review of this show on Apple.
Our podcast network is growing by the month, and we've got a plethora of marketing admissions and higher ed technology shows [00:44:00] that are jam packed with stories, ideas, and frameworks that are all designed to empower you to become a better higher ed professional. But in Enrollify is far more than just a podcast network.
Enrollify is where higher ed comes to learn new marketing skills, discover new products and services, and find their next job. We're a growing learning community of 4,000 members and we'd love to welcome you into. You can access our free blog, articles, newsletters, e-courses, and more, or purchase our master course on how to market a university with Terry Flannery at Enrollify.org. We look forward to meeting you soon and welcoming you into the community.Again, you can subscribe for free at enrollify.org.[00:45:00]
About the Episode
The what's what...
From impacting enrollment, to student success, to annual giving, keeping parents effectively engaged has proven to be critical for colleges and universities looking to better support their institutional goals.
On this week’s episode of The Enrollify Podcast, Zach sits down with Dave Becker, founder and CEO of CampusESP, to discuss how colleges and universities can better incorporate parents into the enrollment marketing mix.
About the Enrollify Podcast Network
The Enrollify Podcast is a part of the Enrollify Podcast Network. If you like this podcast, chances are you’ll like other Enrollify shows too!
Our podcast network is growing by the month and we’ve got a plethora of marketing, admissions, and higher ed technology shows that are jam packed with stories, ideas, and frameworks all designed to empower you to be a better higher ed professional. Our shows feature a selection of the industry’s best as your hosts. Learn from Mickey Baines, Zach Busekrus, Jaime Hunt, Corynn Myers, Jaime Gleason and many more.
Learn more about The Enrollify Podcast Network at podcasts.enrollify.org. Our shows help higher ed marketers and admissions professionals find their next big idea — come and find yours!
About the Podcast
Zach is the Founder of Enrollify. He thoroughly enjoys building new brands, developing and executing content marketing strategies, and hosting podcasts. When he's not working on Enrollify, he enjoys discussing life's quandaries over coffee (or a good bourbon) with friends, building Sponstayneous (his travel brand side hustle), trying out new HIIT workouts, and adventuring across the globe with his wife!
Dave is the CEO and Co-founder of CampusESP, which helps over 260 colleges support student success and student enrollment through parent engagement. Dave was formerly the SVP of Product Management at Ellucian (SunGard Higher Education), and was responsible for dozens of Higher Education solutions supporting 1,200 global customers. In his 24 years of experience in education technology, he's had the opportunity to visit and present at over 300 different colleges, campuses and conferences around the world. He also has twins in 11th grade who have not been expelled (yet). Find him on LinkedIn.
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