One of the reasons Measuring Success was invited to present at the Nashville meeting of the Association of Independent School Admissions Professionals (AISAP) is because of our success at using data to support enrollment management at independent schools.
We use data in a couple of ways. First, we create lookalike models to help enrollment professionals have a data-driven understanding of their current families. What are the underlying characteristics of a family who chooses to enroll at your school? To get at this information, we take baseline information about current families (namely names and addresses), and we run them through a computer model.
These models gather data not only from U.S. Census data available on every household in the country, but also consumer data that speaks to lifestyle preferences. You already know a few things about your families. They have children, they live in geographic proximity to your school. But what about other data points? What is their net worth? What is the home value? What political party do they belong to? What magazines do they subscribe to?
In our data modeling, we can append up to 700 data points to paint a more complete picture.
From there, we go to our second phase – taking the model and matching it to other families in a given geographic area. What families look like the families a school already has? we CAN find hundreds of families in an area who look just like the families who already love your school.
This is the beginning of a comprehensive, data-driven process. Some schools opt to leave it here. They take the list and make their pitch, hoping for the best.
But we can also conduct research to dig deeper to find what and how these families prioritize academic choices for their children and help you learn which levers work best at motivating their behavior. We use data to get at deeper questions: What do they look for in a school? Does a given school’s mission align with the academic, social, religious, or moral goals of prospective parents?
To gather more data points, we might host focus groups to drill down into what messaging to specific market segments is most likely to entice them to consider a specific school.
We can also use data in looking at your competition through peer benchmarking. How is your school doing in comparison to a neighboring school that a prospective family might also consider? Are their marketing messages resonating with prospects in a way that yours aren’t? Are tuition pricing, qualified faculty, extracurricular activities, or other factors keeping families from even making an inquiry, showing up at an open house or being receptive to an ambassador event?
Such data-driven criteria can get at the third most important component for admission professionals that we frequently heard at AISAP: the need for finding more qualified inquiries in specific grades and school divisions. All enrollment professionals can benefit from our new cutting-edge data resources to identify and attract truly prime prospects.
We enjoyed participating with AISAP, hearing from admissions professionals from all over the country and learning about the challenges facing independent schools in the area of enrollment growth. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments.