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Real-Time Analytics: The Future of Higher-Education Digital Marketing

By Joe DeCosmo, Chief Analytics Officer, Enova Decisions

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Joe DeCosmo, Chief Analytics Officer, Enova Decisions

Today, more people than ever before we are able to access post-secondary education. With greater availability of multi-channel offerings including both online and brick-and-mortar options, as well as non-traditional educational institutions such as coding bootcamps, students have a multitude of options. So while schools have a greater pool of candidates, they also face more competition to attract quality students. An emerging solution to help ensure schools are marketing in the right way and to the right students in order to meet both internal and regulatory metrics is real-time, scalable capabilities.

"Marketing Effectively and Efficiently to Find and Attract High-Performing Students has Become Particularly Critical since the Passing of Gainful Employment Regulation"

Marketing effectively and efficiently to find and attract high-performing students has become particularly critical since the passing of Gainful Employment Regulation. Under such regulation, for-profit programs and certificate programs at private non-profit and public institutions must demonstrate they’re preparing students for ‘gainful employment in a recognized occupation’ by achieving a certain loan payment-to-earnings ratio. In order for these programs to keep access to federal funding programs, the estimated annual loan payment of an average graduate cannot exceed 20 percent of his or her discretionary income, or eight percent of his or her total earnings. Thus, schools need to ensure that students are graduating and that alumni are finding and keeping good-paying jobs.

Real-time, advanced analytics can help ensure organizations market to candidates who are the right fit for their program and thus more likely to graduate and leverage their degree for gainful employment after graduation. As marketing leads come in, using real-time, predictive analytics, schools will be able to score the probability of a student graduating, as well as a certain class’ debt load and that class’ earnings. This calculation is not so simple, as factors beyond the school or students’ control may impact debt and earnings. Real-time analytics platforms can plug into nearly limitless data sources and use ever-evolving models that take into account a large ecosystem of variables in order to make incrementally improved predictions over time.

The inevitable margin squeeze resulting from increasing competition and regulation means efficient marketing -- and high conversion rates for the right applicants -- becomes especially important. Schools can realize marketing efficiencies by using analytics to determine the likelihood of a particular potential student choosing to attend. They can then focus their marketing efforts on potential students who are likely to attend and who will be able to pay their tuition. Potential data points include geography, program type, and psychographic information such as interests.

Once schools have captured a student’s interest, they can then use analytics to ensure the student has a good experience while in the marketing funnel. Knowing where, when and how to follow up once a potential student is in the marketing funnel ensures your marketing is optimized so that the student is more likely to choose your school over another.

Using real-time analytics and data is the future when it comes to marketing to the right students. Analytics can even go beyond the marketing phase to impact all parts of the student lifecycle, from recruitment through alumni engagement. Many exciting applications are on the horizon, and it will be exciting to see where real-time analytics takes higher education in the future.

Founded in 2015 and based in Chicago, IL, Enova Decisions delivers innovative predictive analytics solutions that help companies make real-time, data-driven decisions at scale, to meet customer demand for instant answers.