The Washington State University Tri-Cities Story: Growing Enrollment and Expanding Reach
Appreciably grow enrollment and expand geographic reach in one year
Growing enrollment and expanding geographic reach can be real challenges in today’s competitive recruiting landscape. Given goals to accomplish both, Washington State University (WSU) Tri-Cities, a small, public university located in central Washington, partnered with KelmscottEDU to conduct a targeted student search for their fall 2015 class.
One of five campuses in the WSU system, WSU Tri-Cities is known as a STEMfocused institution grounded in the liberal arts. With more than 18 majors and programs in high-demand fields, WSU Tri-Cities offers a private college experience in a public university setting defined by personal attention and small class sizes along with abundant state university resources—all at a low price tag. Located in the thriving city of Richland, Washington, and along the Columbia River, they enjoy an average of 300 days of sunshine a year in an area rich with cultural resources and exciting learning opportunities.
The WSU Tri-Cities student body primarily hails from the state of Washington, mainly from the central and eastern parts of the state. The University had recruited effectively in those areas in the past, and their enterprising enrollment professionals felt they could not continue to meet their ambitious, ever-increasing enrollment goals by focusing only in their home state. Thus, they reached out to KelmscottEDU to partner with them and utilize student search to increase their applicant pool, identify qualified applicants who would eventually enroll, expand their territorial reach, and provide enrollment management consulting from consultants with real-life enrollment experience— all on a limited recruitment budget.
Making connections is fundamentally important to us at Kelmscott. That’s why the newsletter is customized by vertical market and account executive. It shows we practice what we preach. Each issue uses the power of personalization through variable printing, compelling content and design, and data management to build relationships.
— SCOTT VORIS
THE KELMSCOTTEDU STRATEGY
A targeted, personalized, multi-channel senior search.
As Rick Hinshaw, Kelmscott’s enrollment consultant for this institution, affirmed: “Kelmscott is extremely proud to partner with this institution and work as a team to exceed their enrollment goals. Together we created a custom search strategy keeping in mind their goals and institutional strengths to help bring in a phenomenal class of students.”
During initial consultation and strategy meetings, major goals for this targeted student search were identified:
- Focus on enrollment growth
- Expand geographic reach
— And do both by the coming fall!
To accomplish these goals, KelmscottEDU created a Targeted Senior Search that focused on increasing applications for fall 2015 and expanding into new geographic markets, including several identified states. Thus, name purchases were aimed at deepening reach within Washington as well as making inroads into additional, targeted states. Lists of fresh, qualified seniors, whose characteristics closely matched the University’s student body, were purchased in these specific areas.
2013/14 STUDENT SEARCH RESULTS
In this second year, Kelmscott has worked with this HBCU to further hone the student search strategies and reduce the overall costs. Thus, despite an approximately 25% reduction in search names, the university is experiencing even better results than the first year. Therefore, we anticipate even higher enrollments from this search campaign in the coming year.
- 28.11% overall response rate – that’s a 9.17% increase over last year!
- 366 inquiries to date
- 602 secret shoppers
- 78 mobile inquiries – 12 more than last year
Kelmscott partners with HBCUs in their calling to continue to increase African American access and success, and in particular African American males. We support the critically important societal role HBCUs serve in furthering the education of this and other diverse populations.
Following in-depth consultation and data analyses, KelmscottEDU created a customized student search strategy utilizing a tactical mix of carefully timed electronic and print messages. Messaging focused on the unique features and benefits of WSU Tri-Cities. Specific strategies were also implemented to recruit out-of-state students. All communications contained personalized, engaging messaging and strong, compelling calls to action.
In order to build relationships with students and encourage them to apply, KelmscottEDU engaged them with customized print and electronic messages and designs that complemented and extended the University’s brand and voice. Strategic segmentation was utilized with personalized messages for in- and outof- state students. For individualized messages to students, we created a tactical mix of segmented messages and personalized content utilizing Precise Audience Targeting™ (PAT), the most advanced customization communications solution available anywhere. With PAT, we tailored the messages and visuals to resonate with each of the prospective student’s interests. In addition, PAT allowed us to target students who were likely to enroll, track their individual responses, and provide personalized follow-up. A cross-media strategy using electronic, print, mobile, and Web components to reach and engage students on their terms was also developed. This campaign contained a strategic mix of electronic and print messages with personalized URLs leading to a customized microsite, which contained an application link and a qualifying student survey. In addition, we used our innovative Mobile Smart responsive design solution in every electronic component of this search campaign. Mobile Smart optimizes emails, forms, applications, and microsites so they look their best on mobile devices and garner the highest number of responses possible.
THE OUTSTANDING RESULTS
Significant growth in the applicant pool and considerable expansion of geographic reach!
The results of the WSU Tri-Cities Targeted Senior Search were impressive and exceeded expectations. Open rates for all electronic communications were in the double digits with an average email open rate of 14.67 percent. Further, this Targeted Senior Search provided WSU Tri-Cities with 627 new applicants and 262 senior inquiries. In addition, the search expanded the recruitment reach outside of WSU Tri-Cities’ traditional market and into other parts of Washington and additional states. In fact, this student search has resulted in several hundred applications and inquiries from these new markets.
2015 Student Search Results
- 5.85% response rate
- 627 new applicants
- 262 senior inquiries
- 473 secret shoppers
- 327 mobile responses
Washington search names performed well, generating 69 percent of the total responses and expanding reach from central Washington to include a significant number of responses in eastern and western Washington. Out-ofstate names also performed quite well, generating 31 percent of the responses in this search campaign.
Specific states, which were identified as new geographic targets, all performed extremely well in this student search campaign. In fact, this extent of new geographic reach, which often takes several years to cultivate, was accomplished with this senior search campaign in one year. Several additional states also generated notable responses despite the small numbers of search names purchased, indicating that they could become successful future markets for WSU Tri-Cities as they continue to expand geographically.
This Targeted Student Search helped significantly build the WSU Tri-Cities’ applicant pool, considerably expand their geographic reach, and put on them path to dramatically increasing enrollment for fall 2015.