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Tips and Tricks for Marketing an Event With Declining Show Rates
[00:00:00] Jaime Gleason: Have you ever wondered if there is a different, maybe even a better way to tackle an enrollment or marketing issue? Are there processes or practices in your institution that you wonder why does this exist and why has no one bothered to disrupt it? Or
[00:00:19] Shane Kehl: what about a hot new enrollment marketing trend that you've been asked to jump on?
[00:00:25] But you're not really sure how to do it the right way, or even if it's worth doing at all,
[00:00:30] Jaime Gleason: believe me, we get it. I'm Jamie Gleason, a 20 year veteran of higher ed, who has worked both inside and outside the institution and on the vendor side of enrollment
[00:00:42] Tony Fraga: marketing. And I'm Tony Fraga, an
[00:00:44] Shane Kehl: 18 year recovering higher ed market.
[00:00:46] Who has seen just about every enrollment marketing model in the industry, and we've teamed up to launch the Pivot podcast to take an issue, a hurdle, or an outdated process, and suggest ways to [00:01:00] pivot into a new direction or launch into a better process as much as possible. We'll use actual example. But we'll try to keep all the takeaways as fresh as possible.
[00:01:12] Jaime Gleason: You'll laugh, heck you might even cry. But we promised this is a podcast that you won't want to miss. The Pivot is proud to be a part of the Enroll five Podcast Network, and you can subscribe to this email@example.com or wherever you get your
[00:01:30] Shane Kehl: podcasts.
[00:01:34] Tony Fraga: Hello, and welcome to episode two of The Pivot. I'm here with Jamie and Tony, as always, fellows, how are we? How's everyone's weekend? Weekends
[00:01:44] Jaime Gleason: are always good. Not always actually. It was pretty good though. It was
[00:01:49] Tony Fraga: awesome. Tony, you're coming Fresh off, uh, an extended weekend with a, a nice vacation. How was it?
[00:01:55] It was great. It was
[00:01:56] Shane Kehl: my, my family had mid winter break from school, so we were gone for an [00:02:00] entire week while the rest of the country froze. We escaped the country, went to a different latitude.
[00:02:06] Tony Fraga: It was awesome. Nice. Yeah, you missed the, uh, Saturday snowfall in Virginia. Exciting times. Awesome. So to recap, last episode, we chatted a bunch about how we would structure an open house event given a couple different limitations.
[00:02:23] One limitation being. Admissions people aren't gonna show up. Um, and, and how do we kind of want to structure an event given that? And then we took another route too and kind of wanted to pivot off of, well, what if there's limited faculty participation? And those each presented their own challenges, um, that we've kind of explored and walked through a little bit more.
[00:02:40] So for this episode, we'd love to think about now marketing that event. Um, we chatted a bunch about, you know, wanting to create interesting sessions, how we might leverage students, um, in that event to make it more interesting and to compensate for maybe some of the admissions or faculty not showing up.
[00:02:57] Um, so thinking about marketing the event and then the kind [00:03:00] of pivot really being off of, and I think this is something a lot of people can relate to. , pretty hefty decline in the show rate at events, particularly all, you know, program open houses and things like that, um, where it's a much larger crowd. So, you know, we're, you're probably at a point where maybe you're considering canceling the event because show rates have been low in the past, uh, or in the last couple months, and so, You're facing a lot of pressure to really make sure that these events are one valuable for people and you're getting the most out of it and capitalizing on people's time, but also, you know, using this as a huge tool to generate applications in new students.
[00:03:35] So how would you really go about taking the event that we've structured and marketing it in a way that's gonna increase that show rate so that, you know, we're not canceling these
[00:03:43] Jaime Gleason: next year? Yeah, I, I, I wanna start by just stating the obvious, right? And I think this is, I, I wanna state it because I feel like sometimes people do this and they, they wonder why it's not working, but it's like, if.
[00:03:57] you've had a consistently bad show rate, say, [00:04:00] since the pandemic, or it's declining. I think the obvious thing that we have to, uh, contend with is that we can't keep talking about it the same way. So like, whether it's the same exact paradigm for advertising the event, the same exact, you know, agenda for the event.
[00:04:16] It's like something has to change. It's like the epitome of insanity is to do the same thing over and over. and expect a different result. And so I'm stating the obvious by saying that, but I think sometimes that needs to be stated because we just keep doing it. We higher ed is notorious for like, we're gonna just keep doing it until it works.
[00:04:36] Um, so I think, you know, here are the, the limitations are, we're, we're like, we're missing out on an audience. We're we're either they're registering and not showing, or they're not registering at all. It's like, how do. , how do, how do we like frame this event up differently? So last week we really talked about like what are some of the different elements, sorry, not last week, last episode feels like last week.
[00:04:57] Um, we talked about [00:05:00] what are the different elements that you're gonna put into those, into that, like the different event. So to me, one of the obvious things is like, how do we talk about the new things that we're gonna be doing and shape it differently? So that way people see, oh, this isn't just the same old thing, this is a new, something different.
[00:05:19] You know, I, I was actually presenting, uh, last week at an institution doing a little storytelling consulting, and one of the things that, that I shaped or I framed up was like two different, like even names of open houses, like how they were just, just branded differently and how that in and of itself made a tremendous difference.
[00:05:41] The, the curb appeal. So like, yeah, I, I think that, you know, it's not, it's not, this isn't unlike the real estate market, right? We should think about like, what are the things that people wanna get out of it, and how do we, like, how do we, how do we focus this on those needs and on the deliverables of the event?
[00:05:59] So that way [00:06:00] they're saying, oh, this is, this is way different than that thing that I looked at, you know, eight months ago when I got a postcard or when I was on the website or something like,
[00:06:09] Shane Kehl: and I, I, I think that's where this gets hard is you have to know. Where your specific breakdown is. I think this is so common right now.
[00:06:19] So many schools, this particular recruitment year kind of coming out of the pandemic, like when we were in the pandemic, what did we see? And we did like a big research survey. and like every single school went to virtual events cuz they had to, and guess what? No big surprise. Virtual events. The show percentage went right, right up.
[00:06:39] Right. It was up to about 50% on average, which is for virtual events was like a really big deal. Then things have come back and there's a mix of in-person, but there's still a bunch of virtual events. I don't care what event you're doing. I think what's hard is that when we do and market our events, the problem is we do the same things because they work or they worked in the past.
[00:06:57] And so it's really hard to let go of, it's really [00:07:00] hard to say. We had four email invitations to this big open house and generally that has always worked well for us. Yeah. Yes. Some different results and open rates and click rates on different emails and on the, on the whole, if we didn't send four emails, we definitely wouldn't have the a hundred RCPs and the event wouldn't be a success and so.
[00:07:16] Um, but we're seeing this year really different results. Like I've seen very drastically different results for both virtual and in-person events, both grad and undergrad type of recruitment events, whether it's a program specific info session, a general all admissions thing, meet with the faculty or big open house.
[00:07:36] Um, and I think the tenants, the common denominator has been show, gets really low. So I, I appreciate this pivot. What do you do when you had an. You did a marketing for it and it just didn't work like it used to work. You gotta pivot. The immediate concern and the, the, the criticism that people in enrollment marketing get are, we shouldn't do these events.
[00:07:58] They don't work anymore. And I think [00:08:00] throwing that out is a really bad way to go. Mm-hmm. . But I've heard a lot of people, and I've even seen many schools literally just take. Things off the grid. If there's one event, I think this is worth taking off the grid. It's, it's external events, it's grad fairs and stuff like that, or just general college fairs.
[00:08:15] I just think the, I've heard horror stories about those, but as far as you hosting your own events, events still work incredibly well for students, prospective students to really engage and get an opinion. And be likely to move to the next stage. I think what you have to do first is what Jamie you're getting at is you have to find where your breakdown is.
[00:08:36] For some, it might be exactly what you're saying, Jamie. It might be it's getting tired, what you're calling it, you're calling it what you've always called, or you're calling it what every other school calls it. It might not be you, but it might just be that other schools like you are offering the same thing and the prospects are getting numb to it.
[00:08:51] It's not necessarily your fault, but you might need to change the name, so it might need a branding and like how you market it. But it also could be at the nitty gritty of a particular channel or [00:09:00] tactic that you have historically relied on that just isn't performing well. Could be because your emails aren't going through as much, or it could be because Facebook changes algorithm and all of a sudden your ads that worked really well, they're not being shown to that same kind of audience.
[00:09:14] Um, and so you have to really identify where, what is the thing or things. That are performing well below what you normally get when you market the event. And that is, and then you, you do the pivot from there.
[00:09:32] Tony Fraga: Yeah. And I think that's, that's a good point cuz I think sometimes maybe when people think about, um, a pivot for a marketing campaign and, okay, this, this tactic's not working.
[00:09:41] I need to try a different new tactic I haven't tried before, which is certainly an option. But there's also different ways to do the current tactic that you're doing. Exactly. So just because email's not working doesn't mean that no matter what the email says or how it's structured or the subject line it use, it's just never going to work.
[00:09:58] That's not necessarily true. [00:10:00] If you're emailing a super outdated list, sure that's a different problem. That's not the email's fault. Um, and so what do you think are some good, let's start maybe with like smaller level pivots of stay within the same tactic that people usually struggle with. That could be digital ads.
[00:10:15] And maybe email and just your general kind of landing page performance. Um, what are some small pivots that you can make to see increases or at least test, um, to see if there's an increase, um, in any of those areas? Thinking again, subject lines, body text, your digital ads compared to your landing page.
[00:10:32] Like there's tons of things you can do in there. And. Not abandon the entire tactic as a whole.
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[00:12:22] All right, folks, back to the show.
[00:12:28] Jaime Gleason: Yeah, I mean, I, the first thing that comes to my mind is like, how can you strategically use video? Whether it's in email, on the landing page, maybe in digital ads, like going out, like last week we talked about like what are some of the, like, I think we, we originally started thinking about, okay, we have an, uh, open house where there's not many faculty that can make it, but there might be a couple, so how can we like highlight.
[00:12:54] A faculty member, like how do we get them to do, you know, something that's, has tons of, like [00:13:00] the fun factors really high. There's, uh, you know, there's, it's insightful, like some sort of like short quippy video that like draws the audience in and says, oh, I wanna get more of that. Like, I think that's one thing, you know, there's a couple tools out there that, that are like easy to use with if your CRM doesn't have that sort of capability.
[00:13:19] bombbomb.com or good kind, you can like, you can put some of those like little, little snippets in an email in even in an email comp flow that like add a little bit more life, a little more video, a little more like, you know, tangibility to what has been a historically successful tactic. And I'm gonna put a pin in something.
[00:13:39] I'm just gonna say it and we can revisit it later. But I also think like when it comes to open houses, , like we have to step back and ask ourselves, what's the big point of an open house? Right? Right. Is it like, is it all about someone showing up or is there value in just putting it out there as a lead generation magnet in order to get people to sign up, even if they're not gonna show up?[00:14:00]
[00:14:00] Like it helps. It helps you to know their interests. So like, . I think sometimes schools get caught up a little bit, maybe too much in the attendance. Yeah,
[00:14:07] Shane Kehl: I, and I would say, I think schools do need to get used to a little bit lower show rates in the current market right now, as people are very non-committal and coming outta the pandemic, they may sign up for things, but I think show rates are gonna continue to be hard, like getting anything close to a 50% show rate virtual or in.
[00:14:24] That is incredible you and that's really great on average. And so I think schools need to get used to more like 40 and even 35% show rates, but events are still crucial for that very reason. It's a conversion point. But that brings me to the landing page, right? Which is one of the first things I hit. I don't care if it worked for you before.
[00:14:42] If you, it's not working now and you gotta pivot. One of the first things I look at is conversion rate optimization of the event landing pages. And so many schools have, their RSVP page has 16 fields for the event you have to put date of birth, you gotta put all these things and it's a boring, ugly. Form [00:15:00] that's like, it looks like a Google form.
[00:15:01] There's nothing else about the event there. There's not a single picture other than maybe like a Google map with directions. There's no imagery, there's no video, like you're saying. It's not an attractive page that sells the event well and tells me what I'm gonna get and increases its value in my mind with a low barrier to.
[00:15:21] So first off, I would critique the heck outta your event landing page. Does it make the event sound cool? Is it attractive? Do I get to see faces of people who are gonna be there? Why should I sign up and is signing up easy to do, like five, maybe six fields? That's it. What do you really need for me to sign up for an event?
[00:15:40] You don't eat my firstborn child. And so I think we need to lower the bar. If your page is great and you've checked all those boxes, then I jump to another tactic and I'd start looking at how you're pushing it out there, and I'd look at email. And then you break into email and break down all those things.
[00:15:55] Like is it your opener? Is it click rate? Is it, is it the type of email during, is it subject line, is it [00:16:00] creativity? Um, then beyond email, I jump to things like pushing it out on, on ads. But uh, in paid social, paid Google. Honestly, one of the biggest fallacies most schools make is they only do one or two things to promote the event, and they.
[00:16:16] Lots of website promos on their website that divert regular traffic with little pop down bars or popups on the side. Not like light boxes that kill your whole screen experience, but just say, Hey, by the way, we have this thing coming up. You should come. The diverting your website traffic in more than one place, like multiple pages, multiple areas that all lead towards, hey, this info session, hey, this event, this open house is happening, you should come and link to the page with more details.
[00:16:45] That's where a lot of schools get a lot of traffic and a lot of people signing up. Sometimes schools don't do that, or they only do. and it doesn't work as well. And you need like five or six of those across your website in different places [00:17:00] that all roads lead to this big event for like 60 days, maybe even 90 days leading up to it.
[00:17:06] If it's a really big event, like a big, huge open house that has broad appeal, um, I understand a little program specific information session can't go everywhere. It can only go on those program pages, but you at least got a couple places you could put that. And I, I think those are some of the tips to like increase traffic in rsv.
[00:17:25] Tony Fraga: Yeah. Yeah, that's, I think the forms one is also a good one. And even if your page is working well and you feel like your con, you know, your conversion rate is fairly high, but you do have a lot of form fields cover in half and see if it goes up, right? Yeah. Like if it doesn't go totally, you can always switch it back.
[00:17:41] But at least try the tactics that you know will improve. Like you're. Unless you're at a hundred percent, and if you're at a hundred percent, call me, I'll give you a million dollars . Um, like you, you heard it, you could always make smaller improvements, even if it's going well. Um, hopefully nobody out there, some small school out there, like it's two people and that's all they need is a hundred percent.
[00:17:59] [00:18:00] Um, Two, like you can always make smaller adjustments to try and improve. And it doesn't need to be right in true to AB testing. Um, it doesn't need to be, let's change these seven things on the page at one time and see if it all works. Totally. You're not gonna be able to make any measurable kind of, um, insights from that anyway.
[00:18:16] So those smaller adjustments obviously are key. And maybe starting with your form and then adding, you know, a video. And I think going back to your point, Jamie, I think that's a really good. Idea on implementing a brand new tactic without changing up necessarily an entire promotional strategy of weaving video into your emails that you've already been doing into your landing page, into your digital ads.
[00:18:34] Showing people again, what really the event is all about and make it again exciting. If it's just some boring overview, that's not gonna do anything for you. Yeah. But if it shows, you know, the excitement, um, and what the event is really like, it could be really powerful in drawing new people in which, again, going back to your point too, of looking.
[00:18:53] new contacts coming in for your event. If it's their first conversion ever with you, like it's probably unlikely they're [00:19:00] gonna show up, right? Like not many people just off the street, yeah, are gonna go up and attend an pound. But if they've been with you for a while and then they, you know, convert on this page, it might be more likely that they're gonna show up.
[00:19:08] And that's maybe a better way to gauge whether it was a valuable conversion or not, if you had a hundred new contact. , and those are your only RSVPs. To think that 50 would show up is insane. Like that would be a huge win. And so I think that's a little unrealistic. So, mm-hmm. pivoting from maybe the video idea.
[00:19:25] Um, and maybe expanding that a bit more, what do you think are larger level shifts that a school could make if they're really struggling and they're kind of doing all of the kind of the basics? They're doing email, they're doing digital ads to a degree, and they're just kind of, again, pushing out one ad, really directing to the landing page, trying to get people to sign up.
[00:19:42] what are some things you guys would recommend? Um, whether it's, you know, bringing back a mailer or, you know Yeah, sure. Outside the box type of stuff that people maybe have dismissed in the past and is outdated and now is kind of coming back, you know, what are, what are your thoughts on, on that?
[00:19:56] Jaime Gleason: Yeah. I mean, I, I'm a big fan.
[00:19:58] I, I know that we, we all [00:20:00] love to, like, we love to hate direct mail, right? We love to hate email sometimes too, but like I am a big believer. in direct mail for the right type of people. So I think a lot of times, this might depend on your tech stack, but if you have a tech stack that allows you to see, you know, engagement and you know, some of the behaviors that some of your students are doing, and I'm especially thinking of like, you know, a more critical mass of, you know, whether it's undergraduate students or you know, multiple grad programs that you're looking at, that you can do things like, you know, targeted direct mail.
[00:20:35] Um, Invitations or v i p card note cards or something like that to these people who are like obviously into your institution and looking hard and trying to like figure out like where's the delta between you and you know, your competition. I think if those are the little things that like. Bring them back.
[00:20:53] They're not that expensive. Right? Like every admissions office I've ever worked at or worked with has a stack of [00:21:00] old cards that they have been like sitting in their storage room that they use very infrequently. So put that 50 cent stamp on it. You know, carve out an afternoon to write the 30 or 40 of these to the high, you know, the high caliber people who are engaged with you and like, give it a try again.
[00:21:17] It's like that, like you said, with the form fields, it's like, There is no, there, there's really no, um, loss in if you try it. And let's say you get like four or five people that show up as a result of that, the chances are that those people, when they get here, if they're engaged, th they're gonna move forward.
[00:21:35] The other thing that I would say that I'm thinking of is like, uh, and again, this is a little bit more of an undergraduate focus, but I don't think it has to be, but like, what are the things that you can do that. Um, you know, like swag incentives, like how do you, how do you incentivize, like, you know, putting on your, in your emails or in your video on landing pages, like anyone who attends like is gonna get X or gonna get, you know, this, [00:22:00] this like waiver for their app fee or something like that.
[00:22:02] Or, or even something more than that. Like, how can you incentivize it that's really not gonna cost you anything other than maybe some inventory or some things that you know that you're probably gonna waive anyway in the future. put it out there in the front, like make sure that's like a hook and motivate people through incentive.
[00:22:21] Shane Kehl: Yeah. I was, I was gonna ask, it is partly an idea, partly a question how, like what I'm thinking about is outside the box, right? Uh, there's a lot of things I could share about like how you could boost on the ads side, both paid social ads particularly of like, how can we do more creative ads? We could talk about.
[00:22:39] My mind immediately goes to how can we take some of the ad dollars? Don't give it to Facebook, don't promote it as your admissions team, or whatever it is, as the school. This is more for undergrad, but how could you really get some of the attendees who are who you already know are like really excited?
[00:22:55] How can you get them to share it more organically and incentivize them? So, Jamie, [00:23:00] I, when I'm thinking about your idea, , and they may, you may be ready to give a t-shirt to everybody who comes, but like, how can you have a really cool swag incentive that says, Hey, by the way, if you share that, you RCP for the event, thank you.
[00:23:13] If you share that you're coming to the event and share a link to this page, we're, you'll get this, you'll get this other thing like a, you know, a i a Yeti, something like that. Sweatshirt A hoodie. You got a hoodie and not just the T-shirt. Right? And so you get the hoodie or whatever it is, and you, and not everyone's gonna do it, but if a few of the, the attendees.
[00:23:31] Yeah, who have RSVP'd and said, I'm coming to your open house. They go share and say, Hey, I'm going to such and such university's open house on October 18th, and super excited about this. And they do that. That is even, I would incentivize, I would pay them to do that if you could. Um, so using incentives that way is the outside of the box.
[00:23:53] On the grad level, I was actually thinking about getting, um, students or ambassadors to go and [00:24:00] promote the event and paying them to push it out for them to pay to boost their own post. Yeah. To more lookalikes and stuff like that. But that's a little bit more sophisticated and you gotta make sure you've got the right audience criteria in there that they're boosting to.
[00:24:12] But I think that might sometimes be better than a traditional ad. It as far as like how I would use the money and give less money to like the ad gods and more money to individuals who have the networks, I, I think we're gonna see this go further here as the social networks essentially become, paid verification.
[00:24:33] It just came out this past week that Meta went and did the same thing that Twitter's doing, where they're gonna create badges and you out. Now we're all gonna be paying, basically to have like a certified instance. Mm-hmm. and those are gonna have more reach than free accounts. It's not here yet, but it's coming soon.
[00:24:49] And so this idea of like the way we even do our paid advertising strategy is like micro advertis. Yeah, it's micro little bits through people who [00:25:00] actually have private networks. And so I just think we need to think about shifting. If I had $10,000 and I could spend a bunch on Facebook, Instagram, and um, and LinkedIn and uh, Google Ads.
[00:25:14] You probably still need to do some of that, but I'd reserve some of that money for some more creative stuff.
[00:25:19] Tony Fraga: Yeah, yeah, that's a good point too. Just given, I mean, when we were talking about the event, we were talking about using student ambassadors, um, in the event, and like those are people that. , you know, perspective students wanna talk to, they wanna get their real perspective on.
[00:25:32] And so pushing that out, um, you know, and incentivizing them to push out to their audience of, you know, friends and, and family and things like that, that are probably people roughly in that demo. Again, not every single person is gonna be in there, but yeah, even them posting on their own, um, you know, they're close friends and the people that are probably gonna reach out to 'em are gonna see it anyway cuz they're engaging with their normal content more frequently.
[00:25:53] Anyway. . And then I think, yeah, the kind of what you were talking about before, Tony, of incentivizing [00:26:00] people to, attendees to come of like also incentivizing people to bring a friend, bring a guest, pay them each 50 bucks. Yes. Right. Like you're, it's a hundred bucks, um, total. And on Facebook, Google, anything, you're probably paying close to that.
[00:26:13] Maybe a little less anyway, but it's again, the quality is up in the air. But you're paying a hundred bucks to get two people to your event For sure. Want a free hoodie? Bring a friend who are both qualified. Bring a friend, you get the hoodie. , uh, the cost per, per acquisition might even be a little less than it normally would be, and they're more qualified.
[00:26:30] Um, or it's, it's really not that comprehensive of a strategy. It's as simple as, Hey, bring a friend. We'll give you a $50 gig card to this place, whatever. Like, yeah. And it's, it's kind of that simple. And, and you still are increasing the quantity and quality of your leads potentially, um, with, again, a fairly small shift that may be a new tactic, um, but it just fits within your, your promotional strategy.
[00:26:51] And it's not necess. Tons of additional work for the team, which I think is always the hard part too, of if you wanna move into Google ads for your event, and it's, that's a big tactic change. [00:27:00] Okay. Well who knows? Google ads on the team. Exactly. Who's gonna go do that? Exactly. You don't have time to go find a vendor.
[00:27:03] You don't have a, it's like, that's too much to learn in that amount of time. Um, and I think that's some of the hesitation too with those bigger tactical level changes is, well, who's gonna do it? Somebody's doing it for the first time. Yeah. That's gonna be very time. . I don't think many people in higher ed are just sitting there trilling their thumbs all day.
[00:27:19] And so where's that time coming from? Mm-hmm. , um, is often, you know, a, a challenge and so looking at some of those quicker, more simple, uh, incentives could be a good
[00:27:27] Shane Kehl: approach. Yeah. So we haven't talked about SMS text and Yeah, I actually think events. SMS text is crucial. It's crucial in two ways, but there's a problem with this.
[00:27:39] So this is a problem. I'm not sure we're gonna solve it. Um,
[00:27:42] Jaime Gleason: because, wait, are you presenting a problem and not a solution? I don't know that, that's, I'm not preventing
[00:27:47] Shane Kehl: on the show. This is not a pivot yet. It's a, it's a pivot in the making. Oh, let's see if I can stump us. Um, so it sounds really easy to do, right?
[00:27:56] Um, and I think the easy way with SMS is [00:28:00] for people who register for your. You should be getting their phone number just so you can give them a reminder and directions. So it's like, Hey, give us your phone number and we'll shoot you a little thing with, with a reminder in, in one touch directions. So it's really easy to find the building we're gonna be at or whatever that is.
[00:28:14] Right? But that's after people who've R R D rcpd. How is that helpful to get people to RSV P? So I wanna be able to say, well, you should shoot a textile. Here's a problem. So many. Don't have an opt-in list right now of, of, of mobile numbers that they can send an event promo text that says, Hey, we've got this, such and such information session on this thing that we know that you've expressed interest in.
[00:28:39] It's on this date, RSV P here, and that would be great if you had actually captured my phone number. But a lot of the schools, I, I see that they don't have that yet. And so mm-hmm. , it becomes this, well, you need to start building an opt-in list so that you can do something cool like that. And it starts actually with the [00:29:00] events you are doing, building in an opt-in list for just periodic updates on special events.
[00:29:05] Mm-hmm. with reminders, um, about them on, on, on how to get there. on on future events that you might be interested in. So you gotta get the wording in the subscription, right. But I think at the end of the day, schools need to be building it out. But I think it's a bit of a problem of like, it's great for us to say, Hey, use SMS text.
[00:29:22] And I think SMS text is becoming more important today in a world where email is getting really watered down. But it's a problem for schools that don't have mobile numbers or they have very few, how do they use SMS text more? How do they build that file quickly? .
[00:29:39] Jaime Gleason: Yeah. Yeah. I, I totally agree with you. I think that's like a, that's something that every school probably need to be doing like three or four years ago.
[00:29:47] Start building that, like putting a, one of the things that cracks me up about, you know, so many forms that we see, right? We see so many like applications or RMI forms that have like a bazillion fields, yet one of the things that [00:30:00] they don't ask. . Is it okay if I text you and like you have a required field for a phone number?
[00:30:05] Mm-hmm. , but you don't have like that little radio button of like, okay to text like, hello people. Like if you're gonna have that many, if you're gonna have that many fields, like please, let's include that one. Get the right ones. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Like I don't want the, your mother's, your roommate in college's first name.
[00:30:22] I want like the ability to text you. So, uh, the other thing I was thinking of too is like, I, I worked with an institution one time. That was very progressive and they were, um, during the, this was for an undergrad, uh, undergrad programming. But during the course of their conversations, when they knew they had highly engaged students, they were actually connecting, um, their counselors through like social, like on their Instagram dms.
[00:30:50] Like they would get their dm, like get the ability to have that DM and then they would do some outreach with that from the counselor to the, to the prospective student, [00:31:00] which is a great way, like again, more of the information that the student wants to give you is gonna give you this avenue into like other ways to kind of like provide touches.
[00:31:08] But I think that like, kind of backing out, again, if you don't have a very robust social media strategy, uh, when it comes to like the UVP of the event, like build that, like put that together. Yeah. Start thinking of like what professors are gonna be there and how do you tap into their LinkedIn network or how do you tap into the program and you know that the subject matter expertise that they offer and like really kind of double down in that area because the.
[00:31:35] For organic social stuff, it's super cheap, if anything. Um, but if you can get that like, you know, reverberation through a network, through, you know, through people who are like interested or, you know, willing to share and things like that, like that's priceless. You know, if you get a group of, like, I keep thinking of like, when I, when I visited colleges, if I had a group of buddies that would go with me to visit it,
[00:31:56] It makes the day so much more fun. Yeah. Mm-hmm. like we all get to [00:32:00] experience it together. The school's the winner because you get more people there who are seeing the awesome stuff that you have to offer. Like you should totally be in incentivizing those people to bring a community of people with them so that way that community gets to experience it in the same way.
[00:32:16] Tony Fraga: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. That's a great point. And going back to the texting thing too, and talking about the dropdown of, can we Text You? Right. I think. Really being super clear and transparent about how you're gonna use the phone number is important. Yes. Um, and, you know, even having a dependent field of, you know, phone number is optional and, but if you, if you enter it kind of, is it phone calls, is it texts or is it both?
[00:32:36] Yeah. And they can kind of self-select then you do have to follow that after. Yeah. Um, but being able to do that. Right. Cuz I'm the type of person, if you call me and I don't know the number, I'm not picking that up. Yeah. Like, And even if I do know, you still might not pick it up unless it's an, if you call twice, it's an emergency and I'll pick up.
[00:32:51] Yeah. Other than that, I, I don't wanna talk on the phone. I don't
[00:32:54] Shane Kehl: Can I, anything Inquiries. I think asking you for phone number on inquiry is less likely to get a result than an [00:33:00] event. Yeah. Events are your opportunity because you get the expectation of, oh, I'm coming to something. Yeah. You gotta text me.
[00:33:05] I'm okay with you texting me directions. I don't know that I want you to call. I, and I think that's a bigger opportunity for schools at all levels to capture phone numbers and with the right language. I think it's a huge
[00:33:17] Tony Fraga: point, Shane. Yeah, and, and I think in that follow up text too, you're sending something like, Hey, we're only gonna text you.
[00:33:22] Reminders about this event, and then we may text you, you know, once a week, once a month, whatever it might be again. So you don't feel like they're gonna spam the crap outta me. Yeah. I think that's people's fears. They're gonna spam me, this is gonna be annoying, I'm gonna have to unsubscribe, whatever. And so if you're transparent with the way that you plan on communicating, or, Hey, we're gonna send you reminders about this event, and then we're gonna follow up again around our application deadline to see if, you know, you want to start your application, submit your application, whatever.
[00:33:45] And like you're very clear with that. Yeah. I think people are much more willing to feel like, okay, they're not just gonna blow up my phone. A bunch of messages about starting an application for the next three months. Every, you know, three days. And so they might be more willing to give you your phone number then, and then if you [00:34:00] do use it responsibly, I think you're gonna generate a little bit better of a response as well.
[00:34:04] Mm-hmm. . Um, cuz that's the other thing too, is you wanna measure it. And it's hard because they can open the text and be like, okay, cool. And they go do it, but you have no. Um, you know, if they saw the text and started, if they just went back because they were on the website mm-hmm. if they just kind of thought about it one day.
[00:34:18] Yeah. Um, so really being able to measure that, um, and trying to engage in conversation with people obviously is, is a huge value add too, that you can hopefully tap into, um, if you have the time and resources. But any other kind of final thoughts on promoting an event tactics? I think, you know, we've covered a lot of really good stuff about weaving in some new tactics.
[00:34:38] Again, that Aren. Insanely time consuming. Yeah. But should help you see at least a small bump again. And that small bump again, the, the impetus for this problem was a declining show rate. Yeah. And so if you can kind of show an increase, that's awesome. We're not saying you need to get to 75% overnight and in one event, , um, we need to see an increase.
[00:34:56] And so these small changes should hopefully get you closer to that and you kind of adapt [00:35:00] and improve each time. Um, but anything else you feel like we're missing that's maybe some low hanging fruit? Mm-hmm. adjustments, tweaks, AB tests that people can make, um, to again try and get that one extra person, which in the grand scheme of things ends up being a big deal.
[00:35:14] Jaime Gleason: Yeah, I mean, the only thing, I have two things that come to mind. One of them is like a little bit of a antithesis argument of like going back and making. That the tactics that you have used historically, like that you can actually measure their value. And if you can't, like bag them, like get rid of, like stop doing radio ads and billboards, um, because you can't necessarily measure like what they're actually doing for you.
[00:35:37] So that's one consideration. And the other thing I would say, depending on how, you know, like how, how your typical patterns go for the programs or for your events, like historically, Go back to previous, um, you know, event registrations, no-shows, and do personalized outreach to the people who didn't make it before.
[00:35:57] If they're not already on the list, like most [00:36:00] likely if your CRMs good and if you're, you know, paying attention to your data and that person hasn't like, opted out or canceled out or deferred or whatever, you're hopefully gonna have them included. But just making sure that the people who. Maybe raise their hands once if you can figure out, Hey, why didn't you come If you're still interested, like, let's get you back on the list because this one's gonna be better than ever.
[00:36:20] And really just building that anticipation with the language, with this like refreshed look like. Don't miss out on any opportunity to spin the new event the way that you want it to be spun.
[00:36:31] Tony Fraga: Yeah, that's a good
[00:36:32] Shane Kehl: one. I think what we're, summarize what we're saying too though, is. , look at the tactics you are using in your event marketing strategy.
[00:36:40] Yeah. Which by the way, you should be operating out of an event marketing plan. And if you don't have an actual event marketing campaign planned out, that's your problem in the first place. Mm-hmm. . But look at the tactics you are using in the channels. and typically if your results are low, you probably do need to add some new channel or tactic.
[00:36:59] I, [00:37:00] I'm, again, I know you said a lot about improving what you've got, but you probably do need to add at least one new thing that you aren't doing to try and get a new stream or a new channel by which you can get people to rscp to your events and, um, But I, I think, uh, again, the things we shared earlier are, are really huge and like lowering that barrier to entry is gonna probably help raise your numbers and you may have to just deal with a lower show rate, which means you have to go with higher RSVPs to get the numbers you're really looking for to make it valuable.
[00:37:29] The only other idea I have, which I know is not feasible for everyone, but can be done is getting any faculty who you may have part participating in these events. I know that's not all of them, but often faculty or at least someone is. Who's a faculty member, getting them to also promote the events, which requires them to actually have social networks that they're active on.
[00:37:49] Yeah. So again, this doesn't apply for everyone. Yeah. But I actually think that's very powerful. Mm-hmm. .
[00:37:54] Tony Fraga: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. For
[00:37:55] Jaime Gleason: sure. Yeah. And I, one other plug here, one other thing I was thinking of like, [00:38:00] Even if you don't use video in this event, like I think it's always good to have a video like B-roll of an event, so that way in the future mm-hmm.
[00:38:09] when you start building, you know, video into your advertising paradigm that you've got some B-roll that you can like lean on and like, again, you know, we all can, I can imagine vision, envision like these videos of students moving into campus and all the excitement that goes on. And I feel like if you can create a similar buzz around an open house and use that in the future, that's like completely invaluable.
[00:38:33] Tony Fraga: right. So to kind of wrap up these shows, I think moving forward, we didn't do this in the first episode, but I think it would be valuable, um, for anybody, you know, what are you all working on seeing, thinking through this can be a variety of, you know, there's kind of three, four different buckets here, but, um, maybe the most important, the biggest, the most pressing kind of thing.
[00:38:51] Again, either that you're working on, you're. , um, you're just kind of experiencing, working with, you know, you both are working with clients on a day-to-day basis. Um, you [00:39:00] know, what's, what's the vibe like? Um, if there's no particular tactic or thing going on, um, you're kind of rough senses,
[00:39:08] Jaime Gleason: man, which one do we talk about?
[00:39:10] I think that's the big, that's the big thing. So the thing I've, I, I've got two things that are on my mind, um, and on my mind. Really just thinking through Capac, like the capability of some of the CRMs that are out there in the space. Yeah. And how, how sometimes, like I, I, I just think on a whole, and this maybe goes back to CR Improv, um, I feel like on a whole, people are o their expectations from the traditional admission.
[00:39:41] CRMs are way outta line and I think that it's really funny to. Like to think about the sales pitch that's happening and how they're like, kind of leaning into that. That's one thing. And then the other thing that's like really like taking up a, a fair about amount of time these days is like, um, [00:40:00] thinking through, um, the aftermath, I'll, I'll call it this, the aftermath of the opm.
[00:40:11] Tony Fraga: That's a good one. That, that,
[00:40:12] Shane Kehl: that's might deserve its own episode right there.
[00:40:16] Tony Fraga: Oh, that's a good one.
[00:40:17] Shane Kehl: As far as like hot takes and just things that are like that's, that's good stuff. There is a major pressure in higher ed right now. For immediate results to turn things around. I think this is still as a result of the deficit that the pandemic created.
[00:40:34] I'm gonna keep saying that cause I think it's still true. And this pressure on anyone in enrollment marketing is huge. Whether you actually work at institutions or whether you serve them. Um, but I would say what's on my mind right now at no CRM system is perfect and I think there is a ton of pressure sometimes on certain KPIs, and I would question whether.
[00:40:58] those KPIs [00:41:00] really are like whether the K is really there. Yeah. Or it's like a lowercase K or an uppercase K. Yeah. And so cuz we're all, we're all drowning in metrics, you know, what are the metrics that matter? And that's why we have this phrase called key performance indicators, KPIs, like what are the key point things that we look at.
[00:41:15] But those really vary by school. And I think we need to do a little bit of a cleanup and reckoning on like, is that really a K P I anymore? Yeah. Here's a great example. , we still use the funnel, still use the funnel funnel. So important. But what if the funnel isn't linear anymore? It's just in a, in a meeting, in a conversation.
[00:41:34] The funnel doesn't work perfectly because this school has a lot of people that enter towards the bottom at the S SQL L, like sales qualified lead stage. And so it doesn't make for conversion reports Well because mm-hmm. , the conversion is upside down because they have more people coming in it as sql.
[00:41:50] Then they have at leads at the top of the funnel. So if you divide by those numbers, you have a, it doesn't work, and it's like, so then why do you care about the conversion rates, like your funnel's lopsided? [00:42:00] Good news, you have a lot of people coming in at the middle because the offers you're offering, there are people who are like doing a very high value item, that they're coming in more interested and that's their funnel.
[00:42:10] So their funnel isn't operating like a traditional linear funnel and it so it doesn't make for great conversion rates. , but it's really fat in the middle. So like Yeah. Is that really a problem? Like mm-hmm. , that's the, that's good. In today's, students are coming in wherever they're coming in and that's when your CRMs capturing them.
[00:42:28] And so the numbers look like less leads at the top, but bigger in the middle for some schools. I don't know that that's a problem. I, I actually think that's the new funnel. The new funnel isn't linear and so I, I love what you're saying, Jamie, cuz I do think it, like, we do need good. That can tell us the data so we can track it.
[00:42:46] But I think that's what's on my mind too right now, is we need these systems. You also need to recognize the limitations of your systems every everyone does and, and then really focus on like what's really worth tracking and what is a KPI today. And you might have to let go of [00:43:00] some things you used a couple years ago.
[00:43:01] They might just not be good indicators anymore. And you need to look at other metrics. Yeah.
[00:43:06] Tony Fraga: Yeah. And I think, I mean, tying both of your comments together, those people that are coming in at the bottom, That's not the first time they've done anything. Right. That's the first thing you're seeing. Yeah. And so with a good CRM that's tracking all these things, you can go back and see, okay, totally.
[00:43:19] They were viewing this page, doing this thing. Right. And it's, that's a problem because of the crm, I would guess. And so, right. It's like once you really can get that ability to zoom out, You kind of are solving a little bit of your problem. Again, not that they're coming in as a lead and you're just missing them or, or whatever.
[00:43:34] It's a little bit more of they were viewing your website, they were on, you know, following you on Twitter or whatever. Uh, all these other things happened, and then they made this, you know, bigger decision on their own and they're going at their own pace. And as we've set up a million times like that is kind of the new normal and, and, , you need a KPI more for the channels and tactics and stages rather than thinking about everything needs to be measured by, you know, leads, inquiries, apps, and cost per acquisition, right?
[00:43:56] It's like that's great for some things, but. How does that really apply [00:44:00] for email and for other, like, there's just so many more Yep. Granular details needed and a strong CRM really gets you, you know, a lot of the way there. And then somebody that can kind of interpret and challenge that data and, and make the most out of it.
[00:44:11] Um, it's kind of phase two, so super awesome. Thank you both. Thank you all for listening. Tune in in two weeks for episode three. All right. I look forward to hearing about the open house campaigns that you all are involved in now after they're done and hearing how they went. Um, and what channels and tactics results of the Pivots results right now.
[00:44:31] Yeah. Yeah, because I like it. I think there's, again, what, what we think might work now and what we're trying again, AB tests don't always work in your favor, and so what really worked, what didn't work, that'll be exciting to kind of loop back. Um, but yeah, that's it for, for this episode. Thank you all for listening.
[00:44:59] Shane Kehl: Hey y’all, Zach here [00:45:00] from Enrollify. 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 that are all designed to empower you to become a better higher ed professional.
[00:45:18] Our shows feature a selection of the industry's best as your host. Learn from Mickey Baines, Jeremy Tiers, Jaime Hunt, Corynn Myers, Jamie Gleason, and many, many more. You can 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.
[00:45:36] Find yours at podcasts.enrollify.org.
About the Episode
The what's what...
In the first episode we discussed structuring an event given a few different limitations. Well, this week we’re diving into how to market that event to get the highest show rate possible.
One of the big takeaways you’ll get from this episode is that small pivots can lead to big results – it’s not all about trying the newest and coolest thing all the time. Tune in to learn more about what to test, how to weave in some new strategies, and how to measure the success of your marketing efforts.
This episode is brought to you by our friends at DD Agency:
DD Agency is a higher ed-specific marketing technology agency that has conducted countless SEO Audits for colleges and universities across the country.
In these audits, they detail where you currently rank, what you could be ranking for, exactly how copy should be tweaked on website pages, and much more.
If this sounds like something you could benefit from, give those folks a ping and be sure to mention that Enrollify sent you to claim a 10% discount on any of their SEO offerings.
Head on over to enrollify.org/ddaseo, or simply follow the link in the show notes below…that will guarantee you get a 10% discount off of your audit.
About the Enrollify Podcast Network
The Pivot 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 Jeremy Tiers, Zach Busekrus, Jaime Hunt, Corynn Myers, Jamie 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
Tony is the CEO and a marketing strategist at DD — an enrollment marketing technology agency that specializes in implementing inbound, content-based methodologies. He leads a team of fast-paced marketing innovators, who handle everything from content creation to marketing automation, and thrives at the intersection of strategy and technology. Tony speaks regularly at higher education and non-profit marketing conferences on the topics of content marketing, SEO, and the latest trends in digital media.
Shane is the Chief Edutainment Officer for Enrollify. He takes any opportunity to make marketing fun and enjoyable while maintaining a healthy level of helpfulness and data-backed information. When he’s not being sarcastic or irritating Zach, he’s enjoying a sports game or nice brunch – mimosa, hold the OJ. His goal is to make higher ed even more fun and lively by injecting new ideas wherever he can.
Jamie Gleason is the Vice President Of Enrollment Strategy at Direct Development. He brings over 15 years of higher education experience to the team; almost a decade of which was spent on campus(es) and nearly six years was in edtech. A self-proclaimed "farmer + fixer," Enrollment has always provided the perfect challenge for him! He's happiest when mining through spreadsheets, results, and (generally) any type of data!
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DD Agency is a digital marketing agency for higher education with a propensity for marketing technology. They're the only HubSpot Platinum Partner Agency that exclusively serves the enrollment marketing space. Living out their mission statement "We help Davids beat Goliaths" means DD helps clients develop inbound marketing strategies that use content and marketing automation to achieve their enrollment goals. Whether you're looking for a full-fledged, 12-month strategic marketing plan, or just a fresh approach to a blitz campaign, they're the marketing partner you want in your corner! The DD team is guided by 6 core values: treat clients like family, be ridiculously helpful, challenge conventional thinking, treasure transparency, adapt and improve, and "make it fridge-worthy."learn more
The Pivot is a bi-weekly podcast that addresses real-time enrollment marketing challenges and meets them head-on with strategic insights and tactics. Join Tony Fraga, Jamie Gleason, and Shane Kehl to get inspired, build a game plan, and find your next great pivot.
This show is hosted and brought to you by the giant slayers at DD Agency —an enrollment marketing technology agency that helps colleges and universities recruit right-fit students through SEO, content marketing, and marketing automation. Learn more about DD Agency here.
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