Designing an Effective Drive-to-Apply Campaign

We recently conducted a survey of Enrollment Marketing Platform (EMP) clients who launched cross-media campaigns to drive applications. In our webinar Designing An Effective Drive-to-Apply Campaign, Liaison’s Suzanne Sharp, executive director, enrollment management consulting, and Emma Burton, director, strategic enrollment consulting, presented the results.

We discovered that effective campaigns relied on highly targeted—and relevant—messaging that resonated with specific audiences. They also used clear calls to action that directed recipients to personalized web pages or to an online application. Incentives were key—and that often meant simply communicating the incentives already available to a certain demographic: fee waivers and scholarships topped the list. Finally, great timing also gave campaigns a lift—think about getting your campaigns out the door well before Thanksgiving break. It gives the family something to discuss over that turkey dinner.

Who you should target?

Inquiries, prospects, and seniors are all great audiences to target, though your approach to each will vary. Interestingly, we discovered that targeting parents and families with thoughtful DTA campaigns generated 3 times the ordinary application volume for some of our clients.

What incentives work best?

Incentives can vary depending on the demographic you’re reaching out to, but most of our clients included scholarship information or special merit awards in their DTA campaigns. Often, prospective students are unaware of what’s out there. Fee waivers too can catch the eye of students who are working hard to save on the upfront costs of applying to college.

When should we launch a campaign?

Of course you’ll want to time your campaigns to your application cycle, but even within that framework, small adjustments matter. We found that clients who launched a DTA email in early November and then mailed a printed piece as follow up before Thanksgiving break saw improved results.

Where and how can we best connect with students?

Our survey revealed that clients using a multi-channel approach—reaching out with email, personalized microsites and print pieces—saw 4 times the number of applications. Reaching students in the ways they want to be reached remains critically important.

Does relevance matter?

The more relevant you are in your marketing materials, the more lift you will see from your campaigns. Variable print pieces with photos that change depending on program of interest are affordable with tools like EMP. And they make a real difference in a DTA campaign.

The days of the generic, mass-produced inquiry response letter are over. Having the right tools to communicate your institution’s brand—in print, online, and in emails—matters. Find out more about how to encourage your inquiries to take the next step by watching the full webinar.