A Mid-Year Update of Evolving Vendor Lead Channels: Part I

In the world of Education Portals there has been a proliferation of new channels of lead generation. In this post, I’ve outlined 5 channels that we’ve seen gaining traction over the last 4 to 6 months:

1. Education offerings delivered through mobile devices:

Mobile device
More than 44% of higher education seekers do so through a mobile device

Mobile continues to be a popular device choice for prospective students as they conduct school and program research. Here are a few key findings:

  • According to a recent Google survey, more than 44% of higher education seekers do so through a mobile device.   In fact, their mobile device is more often used for research than calling or locating a school.
  • Part of the education seeker’s research includes watching relevant videos. In fact, 40% of YouTube views come through a mobile device.  That equates to 1 in 3 prospective students using video in their research via a mobile venue.
  • It is extremely important that Education Portals and education institutions optimize their content for viewing in a mobile environment. When done correctly, the conversion rate increases by 150%.  Shorter lead forms (typically 3 – 4 questions) are rewarded with a 20% higher conversion to lead rate.
  • The top 4 activities done through their mobile phone includes:  Comparisons of programs and degrees (42%);  Read general information (41%);  Compared tuition costs (39%); and Read reviews (32%).

2. Long-tail SEO and SEM:

As the most popular search terms continue to escalate in their per click costs, many EduPortals rely heavily on long-tail SEO and SEM activities.  Volume is relatively low, but the intent and conversion to lead ratio is extremely favorable.   Many believe that there are fewer “persuadable” prospective students, as more have an idea of where they want to go when they begin researching.  Often prospects are looker deeper into the search results to find exactly what they are looking for versus relying on the most popular generic terms.

3. Geo-targeting:

Not all local geographies (DMAs) show similar response rates. In fact, it can vary widely by competitive pressure, local economic conditions and higher education availability.  Geographic flexibility is a real advantage for those marketers who can accept inquiries from locales that might be a “hot bed” of higher education application and enrollment.  EduPortals are more flexible than ever in streaming inquiries from regions of the U.S. that show a higher propensity to conversion…although the opportunity might be temporary as local conditions are subject to frequent change.

4. Directory / comparative sites:

I mentioned in the above mobile section that comparison of degrees, programs, costs and reviews are the top four research occurrences — the site that can serve up this comparative data in easiest to assimilate and provide the “side-by-side” comparison is rapidly gaining in popularity.

EduPortals have made their comparisons NOT just for proprietary institutions, but have thrown a wider net to include traditional schools as well.  As these “Directory and Comparative” sites  have gained  broader acceptance through extensive long-tail SEO efforts they have also doubled their direct  marketing efforts to the B2B audience. This might include providing templates to Fortune 500 companies in developing their own portals for employees (and occasionally families) to consider in their ongoing educational needs. Scaling of prospect volume is currently an issue, but we expect more adaption of this type of site as SEO efforts continue to reach a broader universe of prospective students.

5. Unbundled lead options:

A quick check of leading EduPortal site traffic via Alexa.com and other  SEO analytic services reveals a significant decline (usually 30 to 40%) in overall traffic in the last 18 months of leading sites.

Many vendors have become much more transparent in their lead generation practices and have gone to a variable pricing model for their highest converting prospects.  This pricing strategy has helped increase average per inquiry fees, while providing a higher converting inquiry on reduced volume for the colleges and universities.

Areas that are included in this practice are:  Warm-transferred leads;  exclusive search leads;  mobile generated , including click-to-call prospects,  leads who have watched an institution’s video(s) and international students.   These leads are generally sold at premium prices, but show a significant above average favorable conversion ratio.

Scott Haslam

Scott Haslam has been with Helix Education for 3 ½ years and has over 8 years of experience in the Higher Education industry. He earned his BA degree in Communications from Brigham Young University.