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Understand the power of your data

Understand the Power of Your Data

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Jonathan Alexander

When it comes to marketing assets, nothing is more valuable than data. The true power of your data is to reach prospective students, current students, and even alumni quickly and accurately. Now ask yourself:

  • How is the data in my CRM or SIS impacting enrollment goals?
  • How is the data affecting our marketing strategy?
  • Is the data helping or harming my student retention?
 

If you’re unsure about the answers to those questions, you’re not alone. Many companies struggle with bad data. So, where do you begin to understand the power of your data and how you can harness it to improve your overall student experience?

You begin here. 

To fully maximize the power of your data takes a strategic approach, both in gathering initial information and developing it into fully-operational validated data. From gathering the initial information, to following through to ensure the data is verified, standardized, and appended, will give your institution full access to the power your data has to offer. But first, you need to start with efficiently gathering your data.

 

 

Gathering Valuable Data

Capturing an inquiring student’s contact information is step one. It’s proven that asking for minimal info up front, such as a name and email address only, will inspire more input than a lengthy and detailed request for a prospective student’s name, phone number, email, physical mailing address, education level, program of interest, etc. 
 
The task of obtaining other essential information that helps the institution direct the prospective student to the right degree and/or department will be passed along to the admissions team who will be following up with the inquiring party. 
 
Much like the initial information gathered on an inquiry form through the means of a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaign or organically on the website, the data from obtaining a commercial list may not be as valuable as you think. Gathered data will not be inherently correct, meaning that more often than not, there will be incomplete or incorrect information.
 
So, like the saying goes: garbage in, garbage out. What may seem like valuable data may not be. Many organizations are just happy to have a new inquiry that they forget to validate the incoming information, costing an institution valuable time and money. 
 
That’s where data verification and appending technology makes a difference — both in the quality of inquiries, and the cost per inquiry.
 

 

The Value of Data Verification

Data verification is a process by which different types of data are checked for accuracy and inconsistencies while the data is migrated into a management software. 

Is the phone number able to be dialed and answered by the inquiring party? Is the address in the United States Postal Service records? 

Questions such as these can be answered before the information lives forever inside an institution’s CRM or SIS system with the assistance of data verification technology.

Take the case of one higher education institution who relies on outbound phone calls as part of their marketing strategy. They found their team was spending a considerable amount of time following up with inquiries with fake numbers, or in some cases, disconnected numbers. With data verification, the institution could determine if the phone number was live and/or connected; all in real-time.

The school was able to be more efficient and saved hours each month allowing the admissions reps to concentrate on those inquiries that could be reached.
 
With the ever-heightened concern for privacy, especially for those looking to higher education institutions to better their futures, it is important to note that data verification technology only uses legitimate public record information that can be shared with the school.  No private information is ever accessed. This is the same for the process of appending and standardizing the incoming inquiry information.
 

 

The Value of Data Standardization

Data standardization is often defined as the process of converting data to a common layout, enabling users such as marketers to analyze and utilize the data. Standardization of a prospective student’s data, however, is the process of filtering the incoming information and formatting it for the use in marketing personalized campaigns, relationship building, or even fundraising efforts. 

While this may not sound exciting to the executive level, standardization is extremely valuable to operations such as marketing, admissions, financial aid, and even career services. 

Everything from how an inquiry’s first and last names are listed, to post office compliant addresses, the incoming data is adjusted in real-time to be formatted for immediate use. 

Imagine the ability to confidently reach out to prospective employers for your graduates, or your alumni to sponsor charitable events. With all the information unified across the board, any department can tap into the power of your data with a higher rate of accuracy in outreach since incomplete information is easier to spot, correct, and/or remove.

This brings you to one of the more powerful portions of the data technology suite: data appending.

 

 

The Value of Data Appending

Data Appending is a process that adds additional information to an inquiry’s data to offer a complete record of contact information. 

Complementary to the process of verifying and standardizing incoming data, data appending utilizes public record databases to provide additional information such as a mailing address. In the case of student recruitment, a physical mailing address can be matched to a name and phone number.

Previously, it was mentioned that asking for minimal information from an inquiry encourages more form fills, but this often leaves an institution without the ability to fully integrate a multi-channel marketing campaign. As such, the opportunity to really understand the power of your data would be missed as well.

Direct mail may seem old school in some marketing circles, but it’s surprisingly effective with the high school and college-bound market. Combined with other digital marketing, direct mail is a much less crowded channel and an effective add-on to any marketing campaign or informational outreach about pending deadlines for financial aid.

 

Understand the Power or Data

By combining the ability to verify, standardize, and append incoming inquiry data in real-time, institutions can access the power of their data. Not just access this data; they can learn from it, make better, more informed decisions, and most importantly — connect and engage with prospective students, future graduates, alumni, and prospective employers.

The result of understanding the power of your data will increase conversion rates, decrease cost-per-enrollment, and offer a better experience for the people looking to better their lives through higher education. 

Need assistance with developing a strategy for data verification and appending technology?  

MDT Marketing has been trusted by college and university marketing departments across the nation to develop creative and engaging student recruitment strategies that get results for the past 25 years. 

Solve your marketing challenges with the right partner. Contact us today.

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