To say that our CEO, Tom Dearden, has seen a lot of change in higher education marketing over the past two and a half decades is an understatement. Tom, who has been with Datamark for 23 of its 25 years (congrats Tom!) sat down with Michael Cooney over at Career Education Review to share his thoughts on the industry then, now and in the future for a feature called Datamark at 25.
If you haven’t had a chance to read it, you can find the full interview here. If you want a summary snapshot of Tom’s thoughts and comments, here you go.
Lead generation dollars have shifted as lead aggregators dispersed the cost of lead generation across everyone. “It really drove the growth of schools in the first decade of the 21st century.” That said, it wasn’t without a price – a select group of aggregators pirated brands and misrepresented programs and outcomes, causing schools and students to suffer, and marketers to rethink their outreach.
Online education has opened up so many doors for students. That said, “At the end of the day, [students are] still concerned about three things: Can I be successful in school? Can I afford to pay for it? And will I get a job at the end? If they can get a yes to at least two of those three questions, they are going to enroll and they are going to have a successful outcome.”
Starting as a small direct mail agency, Datamark has added several new solutions, yet still evolved its direct mail offering to be more personalized and interactive. And not everything has changed. “The focus of everything we have done has always been data driven. The core of everything Datamark does is measurable – we can measure it and we can improve upon it.”
Marketing will likely evolve from initial outreach to an important vehicle in keeping students engaged throughout the education life cycle. “I think marketing is going to broaden its focus from pure lead generation to generating the lead, then nurturing the prospect while they are in the decision making process and continuing to nurture them while they are a student and keep them enrolled.”
The changes the industry has experienced haven’t gotten to Tom yet. If you ask him, he’ll tell you, “I think it is going to get more challenging and more complicated, but in a way, it is also going to get a lot more fun.”