As we continue to creep toward the start of the fall semester, things continue to change day by day. In the wake of COVID-19, nothing is quite settled but we can, with fairly high confidence, assume the traditional recruiting model will have to shift. Travel to conferences, college fairs, and high schools will likely be cancelled. At the very least, those events will be moved to virtual formats. As we speak with enrollment leaders across the country, they are all asking the same question: how do we pivot our recruiting for 2021 and beyond without any of our usual methods?

One idea always seems to bubble up – list buys. You may be considering reallocating some of your travel budget toward purchasing more lists in hopes of filling your funnel. It’s a strategy many will be taking, so it’s more important than ever to get the most out of your investment.

Drill Down from the Beginning

The temptation is often to get as large a list as possible; cast a wide net and see what you catch. To get the most of your list buys, you should drill down from the beginning. Pay for a list that, while it may have fewer names, will contain prospective students who fit the right profile. Not just the profile of a student you’re hoping to attract – but the kind you are attracting. Look at your data for the past few years and create lists that resemble the students you have on campus today. It’ll save you time, energy, and resources to focus on the students you already know can succeed on your campus.

Communicate Differently

Prospects coming from list buys are likely completely cold leads. While they may be familiar with your institution, they didn’t necessarily “opt in.” You need to modify your communication strategy with this in mind and ensure you have a robust, multi-modal campaign ready to go.

  • Communicate regularly. Research says students today need at least nine communication touches before they will take any kind of action.
  • Tailor everything. It’s not enough to just use someone’s name in your opening line – reference their high school, what’s going on in their hometown, or how they did on their standardized tests. This approach takes more time but will pay off in the long run.
  • Add value. No one wants to hear the same message over and over with the same call to action to “apply now.” In addition to sharing the differentiators your institution offers, consider offering prospective students other valuable information, like best practices for applying online, making the most of their senior year, balancing work and college, financial aid information, etc. Providing them valuable information to assist in their college search, no matter where they end up, will help you and your team rise above the competition.

Understand and Use the Data

If you don’t have a way to track the ROI of your list buys, you’re missing a critical step before you even get started. You must have a plan in place to see which lists are performing, where your students are coming from, and if it’s worth a continued investment in these channels. If you don’t have tools in place to understand and use this data, make that first step a priority. A robust CRM with the capability to track key information is critical. Beyond that, easy to use reporting to see granular data and year over year trends will be incredibly useful.

Our Insights Reporting tool makes it easier than ever to track this data. Since COVID-19 hit, we’ve pivoted to make this tool available to all institutions, regardless of which CRM they are using. It’s more important than ever to understand and use the data you have, and we want to help!