Forget the 100-plus degree heat… The thing that makes college marketers sweat most is loss of enrollment from Spring to Fall – otherwise known as the “Summer Melt.”
Your prospect marketing game may be fierce, but as the old adage goes: “it’s easier to keep an old customer than to find a new one.” Due to factors like the long layoff, summer employment “stickiness”, escalated financial or family responsibilities, and more, Spring to Fall represents the biggest enrollment “churn” of all. In fact, it’s estimated that two-year colleges lose 50% of their enrollment from Spring to Fall. That’s a tough mountain to climb – unless you’ve got your outreach Sherpas covering every possible hillock.
Tip #1: Keep it Coming… But Keep it Short.
One of the biggest surprises from our national Media Preferences Survey of community college students? They really don’t mind hearing from you.
At some point, they chose you, and whether it’s a procrastinator or a potential stop-out, your name represents urgency. Don’t be afraid of wearing out your welcome with frequent messaging. Keep your messages short, but don’t skimp on the effort. Employ engaging, quick-hit messaging (think Twitter posts, digital banners, and shorter…) with a clear, critical call to action.
For some students, it’s all about catching them at the right time, with the right message… Two to three emails and/or texts per week, plus daily social media engagement is reasonable, especially during late-stage, early August enrollment.
Platforms: Email, Text, Social Media
Tip #2: Postcards for Parents
Whether it’s wanting what’s best for junior, or just wanting junior out of the house, come summer, parents are taking a more urgent interest in their student’s continued attendance around the early-August and late-December enrollment pushes.
Direct mail isn’t your cheapest option, but it’s the surest way to get in front of the most important influencers of all – often, the ones footing the bill (or at least providing free dorm and dining commons services). A well-timed postcard can be the difference between Fall persistence and punting to Spring – but even in the worst case, you’re still top-of-mind come next semester.
Platforms: Direct Mail
Tip #3: “One More Class”
It’s not persistence, per se, as it concerns current students who have already registered. But encouraging part-timers to go full-time — or even turning full-timers on to a few extra credits – helps your bottom line, while edging your student ever closer to a success outcome.
“One More Class” messaging is all about motivation. For the overachiever, it might be phrased as a challenge – “C’mon, surely you can handle ONE MORE!” For the working student, perhaps it’s a message of support – “You can totally do this – we’ve got your back.” For all audiences, it’s important to stress the speed aspect – “The more credits you earn, the faster you’re earning a paycheck.”
Platforms: Email; Text; Social Media
There’s really no wrong way to do it… (well, OK… there is…). Just reach out — early and often, with clear messaging and one-click calls to action — and don’t give them a chance to lose you in the summer lull!