Okay, we’ll admit it. We haven’t been the most active on social media this past year. In our defense, we’ve been busy! 2021 extended a lot of the uncertainties brought on from the previous year (and supplied some of its own), but we’ve been paying close attention to how the world is adapting and utilized that in our higher ed marketing work. Thankfully, we’ve seen a lot of success with our methodologies. 

Expanding Partnerships: State, National, and HBCUs

In the past, The Parish Group has mainly partnered with private colleges and universities. We’ve expanded our breadth to include state and national institutions, doubling our number of partner schools. 

California University of Pennsylvania has seen its 5th year of double digit application growth. In our partnership with them, we focused on increasing the number of submitted and completed applications from prospective students. Throughout our time working with CalU, they’ve brought in three of their largest classes. 

Another client-partner of ours is Birmingham Southern College in Alabama. In 2019, their application numbers were at a low point. The Parish Group went in and reworked their entire communication flow in Slate while refreshing their brand messaging. This work paid off: BSC has rebounded with a 14% increase in applicants and 33% increase in deposits. 

We’ve also begun working with prominent HBCUs across the country. 

Thanks to the amazing effort of our Senior Account Executive, Roger Jones, we’ve added Shaw University, South Carolina State University, Fayetteville State, and Southern University and A&M College Online to our list of HBCU partners in 2021. Morehouse College teamed up with The Parish Group and after just the first year of partnership, Morehouse saw the largest application class in their history. 

The Introduction of New Digital Partnerships 

In 2021, we became a Slate Preferred Partner. Over 1,400 universities and colleges use the CRM platform for admissions, enrollment management, and more. This digital partnership alongside the addition of knowledgeable staff specializing in Slate, such as our Director of Enrollment Analytics Marcus Webb,  has significantly expanded our offerings to client institutions. Whether optimizing an instance in its own right or integrating our marketing efforts with internal processes, understanding the nuance of how these components fit together is imperative in using Slate to its full potential. 

“Auditing your Slate instance is a fundamental first step to improving your processes and increasing the efficiencies of your admissions office,” says our VP Eric Bryan. 

Doing More For Our Clients and Maintaining Quality

The addition of Slate has allowed us to increase the amount of work we do for partners. If you’ve seen our colorful icons (pictured below), you’ll notice we offer schools a host of services including research, search, pixel wrangling, creative, and photography. 

Historically, we’ve added solutions our customers were struggling with. We care about our partners’ goals and providing them with a quality outcome both in person and online. In fact, The Parish Group is the only higher education marketing firm to pair both digital and search strategies as a fully integrated service. Most firms sell these separately. 

Every school we’ve worked with has brought us something unique. We help them define their needs and how to implement effective strategies to achieve these goals. We’ve aided in reworking communication flow structures, such as adding or fine-tuning CRM approaches. 

For one partner, we executed a branding exercise to create a unique positioning statement. We took a deep dive into the data and conducted interviews with both campus stakeholders and current or prospective students on what it is they looked for in an institution. 

After implementing these ideas into the schools’ campaign messaging, that partner saw double-digit increases across the funnel, allowing them to exceed enrollment high water marks from the previous years. 

How the Pandemic Impacted Our Approach to Higher Ed Marketing

Let’s face it. The pandemic made us all take a closer look at ourselves and our practices.  For colleges and universities, they had to become more creative in their prospective student outreach. Establishing a relationship with a prospective student couldn’t be developed face-to-face. We had to rely on digital. 

Interactivity became a key idea during the pandemic recruitment process. Delivering content across multiple mediums kept students engaged without being burned out by slews of emails or piling stacks of mail. 

For one partner, we built an interactive microsite that showed the next steps to enrollment using gamification. This helped both prospective students outline their journey as well as provided informative outreach to high school counselors to share with their advisees. 

At a time of high inflation, we’ve been able to negotiate with our long-time vendors for steady prices. This trust and deep relationship has allowed us to avoid increasing our asking price for client-partners, which many firms simply cannot afford to do at the moment. 

End of the Year Results and Our Promise to You

The takeaway? When most institutions are down in enrollment, our partners are up. 

This good fortune culminated from the hardworking efforts of our team members over the past year. And we’ve been lucky enough to add a few new faces onto the team to continue this high trajectory. 

But for now, we promise to stay more consistent on our social channels. Besides, we have some really cool stuff happening at The Parish Group with more hands on board. Oh, and one of those new hands? 

Hi, I’m Julia. I’m The Parish Group’s new social media manager. You’ll hear a lot more from me soon. I’m sure we’ll get to know each other really well.