How to Offset Melt from the Incoming 2020 Class
For the newest 2020 undergraduate class, there was a 6% increase in students choosing to attend an in-state public institution, according to a new encoura Eduventures report, What Student Enrollment Decisions Say About Melt, Retention Risk, and the Next Recruiting Cycle. In this time of economic uncertainty and online learning, students are staying closer to home with lower-cost education. Out-of-state public schools dropped by 5% and private institutions dropped by 3%.
The report talks about melt continuing as the first semester progresses, with 30-40% of students indicating some uncertainty about their enrollment choices, resulting in enrollment teams needing to focus on retention and recruiting for 2021 at the same time. There are some strategies for addressing these, including recruiting regionally and focusing the school's value proposition. There is an additional strategy that I would also recommend to offset inevitable melt, learned from my days working in the super aggressive and competitive telecom industry.
At this time, higher ed institutions could benefit from implementing conquesting strategies. I don't think an educational institution should get as cutthroat as an internet provider, but I do think it's time to more strategically and tactfully recruit students from a competitor.
Here are some example conquesting marketing tactics for higher ed institutions to consider:
1. Develop a targeted messaging strategy - Research the benefits your competitor schools are emphasizing. How are you different? How are you better? What is the transfer process like? Put these points to the forefront of your messaging.
2. Run digital advertising targeted against competitor schools - Bid against competitor brand words on Google search and target Facebook ads to fans of pages related to the competitor school.
3. Look at your database - What data do you have on students who were accepted and/or deposited but didn't enroll? Reach out to them to see how they are doing. You might end up sparking interest from someone who was previously considering your school.
4. Create content marketing that emphasizes your advantages - For people who respond to your advertising or outreach, create engaging content, like a video or graphic that gets them excited about what makes you different from where they are, along with the ease of transferring to your school.
Now that enrolled students are not as secure as in past years, it's time for institutions to try new tactics. This means being proactive and targeting students who are open to switching schools to help fill institutional revenue gaps.