There’s no reason to bury the lead, so we’re just going to come right out and say it: admissions outsourcing is a great opportunity to grow your university. Of course, as a proud outsourcer, we’re obviously biased. And, of course, we get it, university leaders are understandably nervous about letting go or giving up any control over admissions. There’s concern around accountability; brand understanding and the student experience. However, despite these very real concerns, there are several advantages to outsourced admissions. Simply put, it’s “better, faster, and cheaper.”
I know there is a stigma to this mantra, which is why most universities don’t want to hear it. It sounds like lowering the bar and settling for less, all in pursuit of easy gains. But nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is, “better, faster, cheaper” is the primary reason outsourced admissions relationships are established. They bring an efficiency and depth that is often unattainable alone.
Outsourced partners are nimble and scalable. They often bring best practices and expertise, along with better capability and existing technology, all of which takes time and expense should the university decide to go it alone.
Please Note: We’re not advocating the Online Program Management (OPM) model. We do not believe that OPM’s serve an institution’s interest. They don’t care about your mission, or if you grow programs. You also have less control over your future. What we are suggesting is that there are significant advantages to outsourcing admissions. If you outsource some or certain aspects of your admissions, you have greater control over your future and your revenue.
What can admissions outsourcing do for your university?
Today’s student journey is fragmented across multiple channels and device types. Digital, especially mobile, changed everything. The traditional “moment of truth” has given way to “micro-moments,” a concept Google introduced two years ago. Today, people expect an immediate answer in the “micro-moment” they want to “know, go, do, and buy.”
And the question every university must now ask themselves is: Am I ready for these moments?
According to a recent white paper, Micro-Moments Now: Three New Consumer Behaviors Playing Out in Google Search Data, micro-moments are entrenched behaviors that are multiplying and accelerating. Consumers are more demanding than ever. Prospects want to be better informed, have more personal experiences, and get things done even faster. Expectations will only continue to rise.
Of course, with the right perspective, these high expectations could be your open door to more enrollment. If you’re ready. All of which begs the question: What can you do to prepare?
In our experience, universities see improved performance and benefit from admissions outsourcing in 7 key areas:
- Underperforming markets, programs or bottlenecks.
Perhaps your team is struggling with a particular market or degree program, or you’re experiencing a bottleneck in outbound or inbound calls. This is often the perfect time to engage a partner in one aspect or a very selective area of your marketing, thus allowing you to test before you invest. Maybe a fresh viewpoint will produce insight and energy to validate your approach or feedback to change it. On the other hand, maybe you need help with a specific modality or learner segments, such as online learners or graduate programs.
- Leverage expertise, capability, and technology to capture, track, segment, nurture, and convert prospects.
Any outsourced admissions partner should enhance lead capture and attribution, and increased Return on Marketing Investment. Quite frankly, that’s what they’re paid to focus on and bring to the table. They should have both the tools and the knowledge to use the tools. Often, engaging an outsourced partner will be just the push that gives your university time to build capability and develop expertise through knowledge sharing and insight.
- Immediate, spectacular engagement with prospects: inbound or outbound.
Those organizations that deliver a “right here, right now” experience will grow and flourish while those organizations that do not will struggle. Can your admissions team keep pace with this rapidly shifting, high-velocity landscape? Prospects are “right now” expecting your organization’s information to be personal and immediately accessible so they can make a decision. Websites must have multiple paths for the prospect to interact immediately with the university, including staffed inbound resources for live-chat and click-to-call. RFI’s and landing pages are becoming less important as mobile traffic exceeds desktop and tablet. Student’s expect brands to respond by understanding their needs and addressing them immediately. Most universities struggle in this area, which is why a partner will help. A valued partner will have the following:
- Immediate, professional response via phone, email & SMS text
- 24/7 inbound/hosted TFN
- Live chat
- Strategy, analyses & reporting
- Expanded coverage 9:00 AM – 8:00 PM (your time zone)
- Improved efficiency and performance in the entire operation.
Because competition is healthy, today’s university needs to have their entire operation optimized for peak performance. Do an A/B test, and you might see immediate improvement from your existing team as they feel competition from the outsourced partner. An outsourced partner can help your organization transcend politics and focus on performance and real growth. The partnership will provide all vested internal stakeholders with common data and a singular focus—the success of enrollment, instead of silos and politics that often cripple efforts.
- Identify opportunities to increase marketing efficiencies and opportunities quickly, so you know which campaigns are working and those that are not.
“The leads suck!” We’ve all heard it, and if we’re honest, we’ve all said it. An outsourced solution will provide immediate data to close the optimization loop, so you know quickly how campaigns are performing.
- Launching or growing new programs, or underserved markets or areas of the funnel.
Universities do not have infinite resources. Growth costs money. By outsourcing, your university can invest internal resources in higher growth opportunities. The truth is, small and mid-sized universities often under-resource new opportunities. Having a partner work only specific programs can help you focus on other areas. Additionally, if you’re having a tough time in a specific market, you might consider testing an outsourced partner. You might also think about possibly using a partner to work old inquiries, applications, or drops, or even reaching out to alumni to discuss enrolling in a graduate program.
- Lower cost-per-enrollment & reduced organizational costs.
Ultimately the partner should produce higher enrollment and deliver a lower cost-per-enrollment. Compare the costs for salary, benefits, management, and HR and you might see reduced overhead and lower operational costs.
There is no doubt that universities can grow enrollment internally. To say otherwise would be disingenuous. However, there is clearly advantages for the university who chooses to work with the right partner. Deeper engagement with your prospects; a higher performance that leverages best practices and technology; nimble and fresh thinking that is void of a political agenda; these are just some of the benefits that an outsourced partner can bring to the table and give your university increased revenue.
Like we said before, “Better, faster, and cheaper.”
And from where we’re sitting, that’s a beautiful thing.