From college fairs to name buys to campus visits, your admissions team collects a lot of data about prospective students throughout the year. Your goal is to recruit students who work hard and believe in the mission of your institution, but how do you make sure that your message is reaching those optimal students.

Making the most of the data you already have is easy once you have a plan of action in place. Here are five steps you can take to better use student recruitment data to close the sale.

1. Evaluate the Data You Already Have

What data do you currently have pertaining to your prospective students? It could be that you only have the very basics: first name, last name, zip code, email address. Perhaps you have a few more fields available in your database, but not necessarily the data you think you need.

While you’re in the evaluation phase, decide what additional data could help you meet your admissions goals. Perhaps you’re trying to increase your yield in a certain market (you’ll want their state or SCF) or drum up more students for a struggling department (collect their intended major). Maybe you want to find out their favorite YouTube channels. Hey, if you think it would be useful, add it to your wish list.

2. Use Your Data to Collect More Data

During the initial touches of your search process, you can direct students to a microsite with an embedded online form. When the student enters their given access code, the fields you have info for are already populated, encouraging them to fill the remaining fields (the most important from your wish list above). This process works best if there aren’t too many additional fields to complete.

As you continue to collect more data from each student, remember to comb back through it carefully. Postcards, letters, and viewbooks that integrate variable data lead to higher conversion rates because they create the sensation of personal connections, even before students have had a conversation with someone on campus. But students often ignore publications that arrive with incorrectly populated names and interests, so if you’re not confident in the data you’ve collected, don’t use it.

3. Segment Your Messages

Data is power. You’ve already reviewed the demographics of the students on your list, so now you’re able to determine which data you will use to segment your variables, then develop messages that are unique to each set of students to pull them into your recruitment funnel.

Go back to your admissions recruitment goals and the data fields you’ve collected. Where do they live? What are their interests? Do they value service learning, or study abroad, or maybe both? Use this information to determine the most efficient way to split your prospective students into smaller segments that help you meet those important admissions goals.

4. Develop Variable Communications

With variable communications, a little effort can go a long way. The customization used can create a richer, more personal experience for all students in your recruitment funnel.

Online variable communications options may include variable data brochures and custom microsites. These are often created directly from the online form mentioned in Step 2, and provide students with specific information based on the criteria they established, while directing them to the call to action of your choice.

Your data can also help you create a unique and engaging series of print publications for your search and fulfillment flows. Perhaps you have a series of visit postcards, but the message for out-of-state students is different than that for in-state students. Or maybe in your viewbook there’s a spread about financial aid that varies according to a student’s high school GPA or family income. The possibilities for how you segment your variable messaging are endless.

5. Follow up Directly with Responders AND Nonresponders

Most of your work so far has been in creating targeted messaging and plugging your data into those communications. That doesn’t require much direct interaction with students, but don’t underestimate the power of direct contact at this point in the recruitment funnel. Have a follow-up plan in place for students who have completed their applications, students who have made inquiry but haven’t applied yet, and your nonresponders. A personal note, email, or phone call from a counselor could make all the difference.

Ready to Make the Most of Your Student Recruitment Data?

The Parish Group is a leader in designing, producing, and managing admissions recruitment programs for private colleges and universities. We can help you integrate your existing data into interactive and variable communications that work for you. Don’t have all the data you want? We can help with that, too! Contact us today to learn more about our comprehensive or a la carte services.