Higher Ed Institutions Tightened Enrollment Marketing Budgets in 2013

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Inquiry Volume Dropped Across Virtually All Digital Channels According to CUnet’s 2013 Year in Review

Inquiry volume and conversion rates fell across virtually all digital channels, reversing a two-year growth trend for higher education enrollment marketing campaigns according to the CUnet Agency Services 2013 Year in Review, published February 19, 2013. Last year’s inquiry volume decreased more than 10 percent from the previous year, almost matching inquiry volume of 2011. Volume from non-branded affiliate-generated traffic dropped at the greatest rate – more than 12 percent year over year – likely due to an estimated 17 percent decline in conversions during the same time period.

Average cost per inquiry also declined in 2013 as schools applied pressure to reduce front-end costs in an effort to impact cost per acquisition. The largest cost per inquiry decreases were applied to high-volume, lower-quality sources, while low-volume, higher-quality sources experienced increases in cost per inquiry.

“For years, schools have talked about quality over quantity, and now we’re finally seeing the shift take place,” explained Liz Dye, director of marketing analytics at CUnet. “In addition to impacting conversion rates and cost per acquisition, higher-quality sources deliver efficiency across the entire enrollment and admissions process.”

Conservative inquiry buying patterns are expected for 2014, as schools trim less efficient marketing channels and bring costs in line with performance. Volume is expected to remain at or near current levels without the significant monthly volume fluctuations that had been seen years prior.

“Schools are looking to do more with less,” said Kim Kelly, managing director of CUnet services. “We always seek to maximize the best performing marketing channels, and we expect the industry will continue to do the same.”

CUnet provides services designed to streamline higher education online marketing efforts, including inquiry management campaigns. Their full-service management leverages years of digital experience to create customized marketing strategies based on individual school objectives. With an exclusive focus on the higher education industry, CUnet monitors and stays ahead of trends to identify strategic solutions and resources able to deliver maximum return on every marketing dollar invested. Sparkroom, owned by CUnet, is the most widely deployed enrollment marketing application in higher education, and furnishes the required intelligence to build and optimize successful campaigns.

The CUnet Agency Services 2013 Year in Review explores key trends that shape inquiry and student acquisition outcomes for the higher education industry. The report details inquiry volume, inquiry conversion, cost per inquiry, program-level and degree-level trends for 2013.

Click here to download the CUnet Agency Services 2013 Year in Review.

For more information about CUnet’s expertise, products and services in higher education enrollment marketing, please visit http://www.cunet.com. Click here to request a personal Sparkroom demonstration.

About CUnet
Since 2003, CUnet’s enrollment marketing experts have helped colleges and universities reach, recruit and enroll the best students for their programs. With the industry’s leading technology platform, a comprehensive set of online marketing services and a network of targeted media providers, CUnet partners with higher education institutions to deliver student candidates, holding itself accountable to lowering overall acquisition costs while driving enrollment growth. CUnet’s recruitment marketing services are supported by a network of proprietary websites, including their flagship site, CollegeInfo.com. CUnet is dedicated to providing the highest standards of transparency and compliance while promoting ethical marketing practices in postsecondary education. Headquartered in Paramus, NJ, CUnet is a subsidiary of Nelnet (NYSE: NNI), a leader in education planning and financing for more than 30 years. For more information, visit http://www.cunet.com.

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Kathy Bryan
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