How to Align Decision-Making between Marketing & Admissions Teams
At a Glance
Independent schools are becoming more and more competitive, trying to recruit qualified applicants to fill all available slots. Consequently, independent schools are investing more in marketing and branding to get potential applicants' attention. However, many of these schools are still missing out because of one common mistake: failure to align decision-making between the marketing and admissions departments.
Building alignment–and ultimately, decision-making–between your marketing and admissions departments can help improve student recruitment and retention. Here’s how you can get started on this path today.
Why Do Marketing & Admissions Need to be Aligned
Aligning the decision-making process between the admissions and marketing departments will help increase enrollments. It will also offer other benefits, including:
Data analysis by a collaborative team representing both marketing and admissions can offer insights into many issues that would otherwise take hundreds of hours to figure out. For example, you can tell which emails or phone calls to prioritize or identify new graduate programs based on the market's feedback–then get to work to make it happen.
Additionally, streamlining communications and operations between both departments can overcome confusion and other time-wasting obstacles. All in all, streamlining operations between both departments can save you a lot of time and effort (and make everyone’s jobs more fun).
Sharing data between your admissions and marketing teams creates efficiencies by sharing the budget for key projects and avoiding duplicated efforts. It can also help you uncover more about how your current projects are working today: how much money goes to different programs, how this money is used, and whether it is creating the desired ROI so you can improve the failing programs or redirect the money to other programs that are more productive.
Driving recruitment may necessitate some new ideas and solutions. It also means testing these ideas. Testing new ideas can be costly and take up other vital resources such as time and labour. However, it is easier when using the resources available from both departments–so you can identify ineffective ideas without straining the school's resources and build on winning ideas to help further your recruitment campaign.
5 Ways to Align Marketing & Admissions
Taking the following measures will help you align decision-making between the admissions and marketing departments at your school.
1. Improve Communication
Communication is the basis for collaboration between any two parties, including the marketing and admissions teams. It enables both departments to get on the same page and coordinate their functions with one mutual goal: enrolling more students.
Forming a team comprising leading members from both departments is a good place to start. Additionally, equip this team with everything it needs for collaboration. The team should be able to explore new solutions and enact them. Ideally, the team should hold regular meetings to discuss issues related to its goals–and dedicate enough time for true teamwork and collaborative brainstorming, planning, and goal-setting.
2. Available Data
Data is one of the most valuable assets for any organization. It can help reveal your mistakes and uncover new solutions and opportunities. It can also help unlock increased budget and investment once you demonstrate a clear ROI.
We all know that data is an essential part of marketing, but many admissions departments still don't track basic funnel data. Consequently, it is important to have both departments collect, record, and track their operations' data. The marketing department can help with this–whether it means leading a project to establish a central database for both departments, creating a system where databases can communicate with each other, or centralizing reporting so each team can benefit from the shared data.
Of course, data is the first step. Figuring out what the data means and analyzing it for actionable opportunities is the ultimate goal. Your analysis should be accurate as the results will be used to guide your marketing and recruitment plans. As such, have the mutual team review the data regularly and implement the resulting insights.
3. Map the Buyer's Journey
What makes students (and their parents) want to enroll in your school? Is there anything that you could do to make it easier for them to make the decision to enroll? Creating a buyer's journey can provide answers to these and other important questions.
Mapping the buyer's journey will give you crucial insights into how the recruitment process works and its strengths and shortcomings. For example, you'll know how many applicants visit your website, the content that they use, how much time they spend on the website, and more. You can then use these insights to make your brand more appealing to these applicants (like identifying great content that is popular with applicants and creating more of it).
Both marketing and admissions teams can contribute to building the buyer’s journeys, as both teams represent pieces of the funnel. Be sure to consider multiple buyers, as you might have multiple target audiences in play–including different groups of prospective parents, prospective students, and even alumni groups.
4. Invest in Training
Are your marketing and admissions departments equipped to increase enrollment? These teams together are the driving force of your recruitment campaigns, but they will be ineffective without the proper skills.
It can be hard for these teams to be experts in every area of marketing–especially in the emerging and ever-evolving world of digital marketing. Consider outsourcing your marketing campaigns to a third-party agency (like Metric!), as they can bring more resources and a depth of experience for a fraction of the cost of training an in-house team.
5. Define Your Goals & Processes
How many more students would you like to enroll in your school for the coming year? More importantly, how do you hope to achieve this goal?
Defining your goals and processes will help guide your marketing campaign, recruitment process, and other plans. Both the admissions and marketing departments should be involved in defining these goals–and they should be both achievable and measurable. More importantly, they should exploit all available resources to come up with solutions to achieving these goals.
Your marketing and admissions departments are essential for recruiting new students and help keep your school growing and thriving. However, these departments are most effective when they work together. As such, take the necessary measures to align decision-making between these two departments.
Want to learn more about how Metric Marketing can help you uncover and align your data or outsource marketing efforts? Please contact us.