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Freezing the Summer Melt

With lead generation and demand generation ever present in marketing strategies, the concept of ‘conversion’ for some marketers, particularly for reporting, can stop at a successful form fill.

For Higher Education marketers, conversion often rightly goes beyond this, focusing on the conversion of potential interest into a true applicant.

But with the concept of 'summer melt' growing more and more prominent in the UK, higher education marketers need to start looking beyond application status. Especially when looking at marketing contribution to overall organisation success.

What is 'Summer Melt'?

According to Harvard, 'summer melt' is when a successful student applicant never arrives at the start of the semester.

This is often very common with disadvantaged students who over the summer period miss administration deadlines, realise they don’t have the money they thought they would - or start to enjoy the money they have begun to make over the summer in temporary jobs - and decide not to attend when semester arrives.

1 in 5 US students who are accepted don't arrive on campus at the start of semester  But this is not the only affected group.

As A-Level results come out and the clearing process begins, universities are at risk of losing students simply because they become disengaged viewing another provider as more appropriate. This may be because they get better than expected grades or simply because they no longer see their original choice as a good fit.

Why is it a Concern?

It's no longer news that competition in higher education is getting harder every year. It's simply the reality of the industry. More universities mean more competition.

This, coupled with Gen Z putting less emphasis on the importance of traditional higher education, means there’s also a shrinking pool of people to recruit from.

62% of Gen Z would rather have unlimited access to the internet than a university degreeMarketing budgets are often stretched, fighting to recruit as many of these students as possible. But reporting only up until the application stage puts marketing teams at risk of misinterpreting results and attributing marketing success to campaigns and channels that don’t actually result in the acquisition of students who will arrive through the door when the semester begins.

Beyond the marketing team, 'summer melt' can have a significant impact on the overall day to day operation of your organisation.

Resource and budget planning become significantly more difficult when you’re uncertain on the actual number of students matriculating. Planning class schedules, staff recruitment and investment in projects are all affected.

How to Freeze the 'Summer Melt'

Ensuring your applicants have continuously engaging experiences is the key to freezing the 'summer melt'. Single channel communication and the hoping you remain an applicant's main choice are not enough.

Automated multichannel communication streams can ensure that applicants are aware of the different administration deadlines throughout the summer, and keep you top of mind. You can recognise when students are not engaging through particular channels and switch to one that's more appropriate.

When students are coming up to a deadline where they haven’t completed a task, send an automated SMS with directions to support resources to make sure they have all the help and information they need to meet that deadline.

  • Students who received SMS outreach were 3.3 percentage points more likely to matriculateUtilise chatbots to answer commonly asked questions, freeing up time so university staff can support and guide those who truly need it.
  • Automated response chatbots can easily provide guidance for students around completing complicated forms and understanding what next steps are in the process.
  • PWA’s can guide students through educational resources around student life, the campus, housing, student organisations, financing information and more.
  • Help put students at ease about the new environment they’re going into, educating them on your campus and what to expect at the start of the semester.
  • Helping prepare students for leaving home and arriving in a new environment can help ease some of the emotional pressure caused from facing the unknown.

Student portals can also be used to ensure that all the information a student needs is easily accessible via a single, self-service interface which integrates all information sources and presents them in a consistent format.

Find out more on student portals here.

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