Targeted campaign boosts enrollment: a campus survey pinpoints the channels most used by students and helps bring positive results for a fraction of the budget.

Author:Grant, Barby
Position:Case in point

In 2008, three different situations combined to push the Arizona State University (ASU) College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to undertake a first-time marketing effort to increase enrollment in its summer session courses. First, ASU decided that its academic colleges would begin assisting with student recruitment, a process previously handled by a central office. In addition, the university and the college invested to significantly increase online class offerings, while at the same time recognizing that severe budget cuts from the state necessitated new revenue-enhancement measures.

Previously, there had been little or no effort to market summer session courses. However, tuition from the summer session went directly into college budgets, unlike tuition from fall and spring semesters, which went to the university provost to appropriate. Thus, increasing summer session attendance was an ideal way for the college to increase its revenue stream and restore some of the funding lost as a result of budget cuts.

Following a highly effective marketing effort in 2008 that increased enrollment in summer session courses by 22 percent over the previous year, the college conducted a survey of all students enrolled in the college's winter session courses. The surveys purpose was to learn more about the students who take classes during condensed sessions, and the most effective ways to reach them.

Findings from the survey, conducted in January 2009, clearly showed that e-mail and the ASU web site were the most effective means of getting students' attention. Nearly half the respondents first learned about winter session classes from the Internet, and 86 percent recalled seeing messages about the winter session on ASU's web site. Sixteen percent of respondents first learned about the winter session from an e-mail message sent by the college, and almost half of respondents recalled seeing the e-mail messages.

Face-to-face communication was also effective. Nearly 30 percent of the respondents said they learned about winter session classes from another person, typically a friend or classmate (66 percent) or an adviser (19 percent). Print materials such as posters, flyers and banners were less effective.

The least effective means of getting students' attention was through ads in the student newspaper and on Facebook. Only 1 percent of respondents first learned about winter session courses from the student newspaper, and none from Facebook.

The primary reason the...

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