The school admissions marketing calculator is a tool created by Innovative Marketing Resources to determine the level of marketing activity, focused on specific grade levels, required to achieve a school or college's enrollment goals. The calculator can be used both to model an existing enrollment process and to perform what-if analysis where investments are made to increase the performance of prospective enrollee conversion events for specific grade levels. After a school creates its admissions marketing funnel using the calculator, it can use the 7 steps in the 2012 Schools Marketing Blueprint to implement and track its campaign.
Note: the admissions calculator requires Microsoft XL 2007 or newer.
Download the school admissions marketing activity calculator here.
The Admissions Enrollment Funnel
The calculator is based on the concept of an admissions enrollment funnel. The funnel is a filter with the most unqualified enrollment prospects at the top and enrollees at the bottom. Each level of the funnel represents a step in the enrollment process. At the top of the funnel are casually interested parents and students. These visitors are meeting you for the first time – whether that means meeting you through some online medium, your website, blog or Facebook page or an offline medium such as a print ad, direct mail etc. As visitors get to know you through content, campus visits, social media etc. they move lower in the funnel based on their increasing interest. Each of these engagements has a conversion percentage associated with it. The conversion efficiency for each level of engagement in your admissions process is unique based on your brand, content, campus etc. A campus tour conversion efficiency of 25% for example means that 1 prospect in 4 that visits campus will move to the next step in the process. If only 1 in 10 move the the next step in the process, the percentage would be 10% etc. These are inputs into the calculator that you’ll change based on either the goals of a new marketing program or experience with your existing process.
The calculator uses your school’s conversion efficiencies to move backward from your goals to determine the number of visitors you need at the top of your funnel to achieve your enrollment for each grade level.
Inputs to the Calculator
The inputs to the calculator can either be goals related to a new marketing initiative or historical data for your school. To get started, these are the basic inputs that you’ll need to provide:
- Enrollment goals for each grade level
- Re-enrollment percentage for each grade level
- The conversion percentages for your school’s qualification programs
The enrollment goal (blue row) is the number of students (total) that you seek to enroll for each grade level. This number includes both new enrollees and rollover enrollees from the previous grade.
The re-enrollment percent (green row) provides a way to account for students from the prior grade who will re-enroll in the current grade level. The calculator rounds its calculations up to the nearest whole person.
The yellow column are your conversion percentages. If your school doesn’t use a step in the conversion process that we’ve included in the calculator, simply set the conversion percentage for that step to 100% - in essence you’re saying that every prospect that took that step moved on to the next step. You can change the names of the conversion events to reflect those you use at your school.
School Admissions Marketing Is Unique
Unlike business marketing where individual products or services can often be treated separately from a messaging and campaign perspective, schools admissions marketing nearly always involves roll-over from prior years. In technical terms we say that each grade level is not linearly independent of the others or there is correlation in the effect of your marketing between grade levels. I say nearly always because by definition, the starting grade level in a school never has any rollover. So with that exception in mind, admissions marketing for every grade level is both an upsell (for existing students) and a quest for new enrollees. The calculator takes this into account by accounting for a percentage of the previous year’s class that will re-enroll in each grade level. If for example your school runs a K-12 program and you know that because local public schools have a strong high school program, you may see less rollover re-enrollment in the 9th grade. The calculator accounts for this and as a result your marketing campaign – content, message, channels – may have to concentrate more on the specific needs of incoming 9th graders than on other grade levels. You’ll see this quantitatively in the calculator based on your enrollment goals for the 9th grade level.
The Calculator Is Both a Projection and Analytical Tool
The calculator can both be used to plan the level of activity your school requires to achieve enrollment goals in specific grade levels and create scenarios that project the impact of variations on a school’s enrollment funnel. By playing what-if games the calculator can be used to:
- Determine the potential imipact of a new campus tour program and increased our conversion efficiency from 25% to 45%?
- Bracket your risk if re-enrollment drops from 95% to 85% and allow you to plan accordingly
- Understand the marketing activity investment required is you extended your K program to pre-K
The calculator can also be used to project the amount of activity you'll need at the top of your admissions funnel and so can be used to determine the amount of new content, inbound link campaigns, social media activity etc. that you'll need to attract visitors to your admissions process. By combining the planning power of the calculator with analytics from an inbound marketing platform like Hubspot, schools can plan activity, measure results and calculator ROI, which gives a school the tools to continuously improve its brand value, minimize enrollment risk and create more effective engagement with parents and students.
As a result of using this tool you may wish to consult with Innovative Marketing Resources regarding ideas to enhance your program or ways to supplement your staff's internal efforts.
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