The Higher Ed Marketer
The Higher Ed Marketer

Episode 10 · 1 year ago

Messaging for the Individual: How Data Can Help You Create Engaging Stories (Part 2)


How do we help uncover and explain the most informative and persuasive information to prospective students?

How do we tell stories that get them excited about education?

We start by finding and utilizing data, analyzing that data, and then creating segmented marketing messages that will move the needle.

In part two of a two-part series, Bart Caylor, President & Founder at Caylor Solutions Inc, and Troy Singer, Senior Account Executive at Think Patented chat with Christine Harper, Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management at the University of Kentucky, and Julie Balog, Chief Marketing Officer at the University of Kentucky about:

- How to utilize data to drive segmentation in messaging.

- How to engage undecided students using data.

- The difference between innovation and ingenuity.

- How the University of Kentucky is helping communities.

Know of a higher education marketing change agent you’d like to hear on the show? Does your university have an interesting story to be featured? Connect with Bart Caylor or Troy Singer. If you’re not on LinkedIn, check the Caylor Solutions or Think Patented websites instead!

To hear more interviews like this one, subscribe to The Higher Ed Marketer on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your preferred podcast platform.

You are listening to the Higher Ed Marketer, a podcast geared towards marketing professionals in higher education. This show will tackle all sorts of questions related to student recruitment, don't a relations, marketing trends, new technologies and so much more. If you are looking for conversations centered around where the industry is going, this podcast is for you. Let's get into the show. Welcome to the High Ed Marketer podcast, where weekly we explore ideas and insights of marketers that we admire in the higher red community. My name is troy singer and I'm with my cohost, Mark Taylor. This week we are continuing our conversation with Julie Bailog, Chief Marketing Officer for the University of Kentucky, and Christine Harper, associate advice president of enrollment management at the University of Kentucky. Let's jump back into the conversation. Julie and Christine, thanks for continuing the conversation now. We know that both of you are big believers and utilizing data to drive segmentation your messaging and outreach. So, Christine, maybe you can start us off by explaining the trends that you're seeing in utilizing and I believe you may have a few examples, like how you regard or approach undecided students. Sure, yeah, so I love data. I think we talked in the first episode about the art in the science of the work that we do. So I love a good graphic and great content, but I love data the dry gives it. In my role I look at data weekly, daily, you know, I take a size of the pool each week and really look and dive into our freshman I look in on our transfer seeing what trends we have. On a daily basis I'm checking our numbers, but also looking at things that I get from Julie's team on open rates, so we can see how some of the communications have been, you know, picked up and received and how the pool is shaping up. But you know, when I have time, which which is few and far between, I really like to dive in deep and so just this winter break I was diving into a lot of data, looking a lot at our prospect pool down to sophomores and juniors, and then was really taking a look at our senior prospects as well as our students that had been admitted or in the process that had applied and notice that we had seen as substantial uptick in students applying in certain areas and that there was definitely a trend that covid had impacted and influenced. But one of the areas of growth was our undecided or exploring students. So that does change throughout the cycle and depending upon when institution you're at, may go up and down and for us it just seemed like it was much larger. And for a university like UK we have lots of options for students. But how do you help explain that when somebody is coming in? They want the experience but they're not sure? And so over the break I packed Julie and Katie and said, you know, I'm seeing some things in the date. I really feel like, you know, this is an opportunity for us to to convert some of our prospects, share some information and then for our admitted students that were exploring, share a little bit about why they should choose UK, because they could do an undecided major exploring at any university. And so reached out to colleagues and are stuck a career center and some of our colleges that also have exploration programs and surface some information and said, okay, okay, Katie, here's here's what I have, here's information I've surface now can you, can you get it into something for our incoming freshman? And, as she typically does, takes all of these data points and information that's pulled off websites and reports and and comes up with something great. But I think, you know, being able to respond to what you're seeing in the data is important. You know, you can have a tone and a tenor for the what you're what you want for student from when they're a prospect or even a sophomore in junior than a prospect in the senior year application and admit and have all of that set together, but if you're not responding to what you're seeing in the data, you're really missing opportunities, opportunities to to help informed educate the students about...

...why I do firmly believe that there's an institution out there for any student and that the student success is on the fit. And so how do we help explain and uncover some of these things so they can say, oh well, actually, this does sound like a place where I can see myself being successful. And here are some things they're sharing with me early on in the process. So that was just something. You know, when one example of something that was data informed through the cycle, I like to say you know, in some of my other previous ex variences I had access to a lot of data, but I was data rich and analysis poor, and I think the collaboration that Christine and I have is that together we're able to take that data and really make it actionable and use it as a as a road map of how to really impact change. It doesn't matter how much data you have if you don't know how to look at it, make sense of it and then turn it into something useful, and I think that's a she leads us very well in that way. And then once once we understand, okay, this is what it's telling us, then we know how to work with it in and make it make it more useful. It's great. I know that when we talked on our pre interview conversation you were not trying to make commercials here, but you know you're utilizing some some really sophisticated crms and a lot of the lot of the listeners and marketers that are listening to the podcast, I mean they are probably utilizing either sales force or slate. I mean you guys are using both of those and certainly there's a lot of other crms out there. You know, some of the smaller schools might be finding other ones. But I think the important thing that you both just mentioned was that finding and utilizing the data that you can gather from those systems, as well as that, ther other analytics systems, whether it's open rates on your mail, whether it's social media are wise, maybe it's, you know, key performance indicators in Google analytics. Are So many places that we can start to gather the data. But if, to Julie to your point, if your data rich but you're not analyzing, you're not doing anything with it, you're not creating that into segmented marketing messages that can move the needle for that particular group. I think that's so important and I know that even even Christine, I know we had earlier conversations about, you know, the the idea of how to segment it either for the first Gen's or segmenting it for siblings of current students. I mean there's there's so many different ways to segment that data once you have it and be able to nurture and massage those messages a little bit better to make them more effective. Yeah, we we really have to have our ear to the ground, and so I in my in my side. I've got that going on and then Julie has hers also. So where I'm pulling is I'm looking at information that's coming out of common application of what are they seeing and what does that mean? And I think that, because that's one of the larger sources. Again, we're not doing any kind of we have a couple different sources we use, but but they do a nice job of putting out information and as one of the larger application sources, were the first to pick up some things that you're seeing in the national media about FAFTS, the filing rates being down for seniors and low income students and and Firstgen students. And Kentucky as a state, you know we have a huge commitments of the Commonwealth and we know that we have a large portion of our populations low income, and so this pandemic has this isn't surprising, right. There was information in the spring of the senior year which students, if you looked at the population in total, most seniors were worried about missing those end of the year events. But when you segmented that data and look at low incompel eligible students or looked at students of color or looked at students that were first jed, their concerns were very different. Can I afford to go to school? Am I going to graduate? So that's it. You know, we talked at the end of the cycle last year at the pandemic with populations of they need a different message because they're feeling something differently and the same thing. Now recently, as we've come to some of that data, Julie and I were looking at it and say, okay, we have an issue with First Jen and we have, you know, we are down and some of the a lot of the activities having to right at the deadline. But we can't wait...

...for the deadline to hit and see where we're going to be. So how are we going to inform some of this? And so Julie and I talked and we got a big again, another broad table. We have our first Gen Office of First Gen initiatives, but that serves not only incoming students or our prospective students, as well as our current students, members of different colleges and marketing team and members of the enrollment management team, both financial aid and undergraduated missions, to really talk about how do we target this at different segments in the population, and and Julie's seem really I mean Katie then started working with partners that could support so I kind of put the table together. Julie and I put the table together. said here's the problem, here's the data, and Julie, want to take it from there. As as we're moving forward and some of the things we're doing. Sure, sure, so. What we did is, for instance, we've created an op Ed, a joint oped with some of our other universities across the state, and so we're publishing those with other university present presidents from our president. We also are creating some social media assets and we are going to push those out and then, working with our there's a person on Jay Plant and staff, Mark With who specializes in media pitching and he's going to help us by reaching out to small town newspapers, radio stations, TV stations across the state to really share. Listen, we need college as possible for you, but it has to start with filling out your fast but and at the end of the day, this is one of those things where I like to say where the University for Kentucky, not just the University of Kentucky, because at the end of the day we just want these students to understand that going to college can be transformational for them and and if they don't come to UK, that's okay. They just need to find the place where they can get that transformational experience. So many of the people in Kentucky, you know, going to college is not always as easy for them as it might be in some other states, and so I think we both felt pretty passionately about that because we know I'm, I said in the first episode, I'm an example of that. You know, my father had a sixth grade education and the fact that I was able to go to college and this literally transformed in my life. To me it's a mission and I think for a lot of our students we serve abroad array, but I go back to you can come here and you can do anything and we've got the most amazing wrap around services for these students and we don't we don't do things for them that we we create ways for them to be successful and and you know I won't Belabor this too much, but to me this is an important distinction. A lot of people like to say they're innovative, and innovation is a good word, except for innovation usually can be funded or bought. Apple is innovative because they have a whole lot of money. What you are at UK is we've got ingenuity, because with ingenuity that's what you get when you're smart and you're clever and you look at the resources you have and you figure out how do you make the most of them, could be successful, and so I always I like to make that distinction. I think that there's a lot of ingenuity that happens here, but in that probably is a good way to describe the relationship between Christine and me and our teams. It's a lot of ingenuity, it's a lot of roll up your sleeves, it's a lot of get it done. We're not spending a whole lot more money than other people, we're just trying to be really smart about how we do it. Yeah, and Julie, I would add that's that passion to I mean we really do, and you probably can hear it come through. We're concerned about students across the board. We hope they land somewhere. I think the pandemic has just made some of the more vulnerable populations even more so with Internet access, you know, lack of that. I know some students that are non traditional instruction in high school and they're working a full time job...

...and then catching up at night because that's what they need to do right now. And so that ingenuity is really critical. And then the passion I think that a lot of us bring, because that really, it really does steep through it. We are committed to and so yes, we have growth goals and and we're doing all those things to get that happen. But I too am somebody who ultimately, like I said, fit is important and if you have an impact in helping students find that right choice. Sometimes it may not be us, but then maybe us later, and so that authenticity and that ability to try to raise everybody up, you're going to be successful. If that's the approach that you take. That's great and I know I really appreciate what you've talked about with the ingenuity because I mean, as I mentioned to you, you know in our on our previous conversations, a lot of the audience of the High Ed Marketer is our schools of all sizes. I mean we've got schools the size of UK all the way down to schools that have, you know, fifty or a hundred students. And but I think that the ingenuity, you know, because I can hear people saying, well, but it would be great to have slate, it'd be great to have that kind of budget to be able to do that type of thing. But the data that you get, you can ask students about that, take in that data and then it's and then you can start analyzing it, you can start segmenting based on what you're asking people. So it's not the fact that you guys just have all the extra resources, it's the ingenuity of if I need that data, I need to figure out how to get that date and sometimes you have to ask for it. So I love that and Julie also love the fact that we kind of talked about the wrap around services with that UK has for these different groups that are going to be that mission fit for for the university, and I know Troy, you've got a couple questions about that with what just kind of what those partnerships with the other departments look like. Yes, they both, Julie and Christine, talked about the dedication to the Commonwealth and I wanted to ask a little bit about the community involvement in the partnerships that are with outside agencies. Julie, could you tell everyone a little bit about the partnership that you have with the College of Agriculture and how you reaching out into the counties and helping out the Commonwealth with that partnership? Sure, Kentucky is one of those states that has many, many counties. We actually have a hundred and twenty counties and in each of those one hundred pointy counties the College of Agriculture has an egg extension agent and they are a university employee and we have great collaboration with them in a lot of ways. They're often opinion leaders in their communities and so, for instance, when I was down at UK healthcare, we partnered with them initially to get population health information out, so, for instance, diabetes information or healthy heart information, and so they became a hub that we could use to push out information and they devoured it, they loved it and shared it, and so we're kind of applying some of that same model here. So one of and I love of that the College of Bag is just game for anything. So Christine had this really good idea last such last summer, and so it was this idea of adulting one on one where we would teach life skills to high schoolers. And let Christine tell the story. But yeah, we pitched it and boy did it take off. Yep, yeah, most it was almost too successful. Yes, it was an it was a quick turnaround. I mean the pandemic of just hit right where. Just we were talking through the spring. We're like, okay, well, you know, if we need to get our students in here, what can we do? What could be helpful? And so Julian I went to Cafe, our college of Bag Environmental Science, and then they basically were like, Oh yeah, we're on board. We've got all these extension agents. They're looking for things to do. They've got other things, but this would be great. So put these modules together in this course and we had over five hundred and sixty plus students sign up in a very short period of time. You know, the marketing was great. The students loved it. Cafe came back to us, the College of Bag,...

...and said Hey, can we do it again this year? So when you have a partner that's coming back and saying this is good, how do we enhance it, you know, and what else could we do? And we've talked about other other suites of things that we could offer because, you know, that was pretty small lift, I mean and they're engage. So we've worked with the Dean to this year, much like we did previous years with our alumni association, to kind of help them be out there. We're now working with all the extension agencies, particularly. We started this before, but it's it was very timely. We started in the fall and then, as we saw the fast of filing information those extension agents in the counties, particularly at a time where the students are not as easy to see in a high school or, you know, access, they are readily accessible. So we have now already trained our extension officers on admissions and all of that and we can push out. We are having students that are having challenges as fast and the high school counselor is maybe having trouble connecting with some of these students. If you see them, can you hit this and make sure that you know they know there's a resource and point them and you may not have all the answers, but you can point them in the right direction and we'll get them what they need. So those collaborations really are fantastic and it happens in multiple different ways. Julie, I mean I remember you calling me on a Saturday morning maybe, and said, hey, we're going to do a vaccination clinic in about a week. Yes, so what? What? What do we what do we think? What you know from it? I'm like, well, you know, and we're doing all the educators right, and we both were like up, college of Ed. They've got some great continuing education, they've got some great masters programs. They're mostly online. That's the doctoral program I'm in. But it just continues to go from there, as I talked about hitting on all cylinders, and Julie just like pitches me in the morning. I'm like, Yep, there's something here. What are we going to do? Yeah, and I'm happy to report that the web engagement around the Graduate Program for the College of the head and teachers is up ten percent and I'd like to think that it has something to do with the fact that we activated at our Vaccine Clinic when we were vaccinating K through twelve educator. So can't take all the credit, but those are the kinds of moments that you have to be Nimble, and that's another word we use, like you got to beat Nimble, and if you kind of already have some of these things in motion, it's easier to implement them if if you're not starting from scratch. Yeah, that's wonderful. I love that idea of all these different things going on with the partnerships, but trying to make sure you're living out the brand, being nimble enough and, you know, going forward with ingenuity so that you can say, how can we take advantage of we're going to be in the in the community, we're going to be providing mobile clinics for vaccines or we're going to be providing, you know, agg extension offices. How can we activate that for enrollment? How can we activate that for the for the for the good of the community? Because I mean to your point, Julie, and and you know, try and I both our first generation students as well, the idea that if we can impact those first gen students, even if they're, you know, fourth graders, that are standing in line with their parents for the vaccines or with grandma and GRANDPA, they're getting an idea and an impression of what UK is all about. Their living out that brand, their understanding that, Oh wow, I have an opportunity to be a part of this in the future. I just think that's amazing and I think that, you know, job well done to the both of you to not only serving the community but also, you know, activating the community as part of that. So I think that's I think that's great. Thank you. We in a I will share this. This is this is new, but this just this past week because our clinic, our vaccine clinic at Kergerfield. This is separate from our mobile clinics that were taking out. Our clinic is doubling in size point where we're vaccinating word to five thousand people a day. It's all volunteer driven and we need more people. So we created very quickly a program called cats give back and we've invited our students to volunteer to go work at the clinic as registrars, as wayfinders. Two thousand students have signed up and that just you know, I use the phrase when I talk about the University of Kentucky students we run to, not from. They like... be part of the solution, they like to be part of it, and I thought that was a great example. I mean students just raise their hand and say, Yep, I want to be a part of that. Tell me how I can do it, and that's great and right. There is another story that can be packaged and sent to Christine and, you know, used as part of the message, which is wonderful. That's great. Yeah, Yep. and Julie's in those meetings, so she helps get the door and right. I'm not an enrollment management going to be at a meeting about vaccinations necessarily like maybe tangentially. But when we talk about mobile clinics and I said Hey, we'd love to get out in front of these families, I mean when you talk about the different areas that we're going to first gen, I mean access to healthcare in particular and with vulnerable populations is important. And to your point of educating a fourth grader, we've gone out and done some some work just to say, Hey, did you know that these healthcare careers are available to you? You may not see a physical therapist in your community, but this is what one does and for some young child that maybe the Huh, this is something I can do and I can be and I can and UK brought it to me, you know, and so those are really great things and we're pleased, because Julie's in that room, that she reaches out and so when the mobile clinics go back for the second shot, they'll prime come. We're going to have some some fastt information sessions. We're going to have information. So if you have students or children that that you'd like that information shared with or you would like it yourself, will have people there, poison ready to go. So it really is we're very fortunate to be set up the way that we are and have such great collaborative efforts going on. That's great. That's great, troy, as we knew the end of the episode, I'd like to ask each of you if you have a relevant idea, trend or nugget that you could share that others can use right away. What would that be? My nugget would be it would be to understand the journey that in this particular case, the student it's on and to assess that journey because again, marketing is where can I most influence them at the time they're making their decision. So one of the things that Christine's team and I did, we did this right when I first started. We mapped the entire journey. We looked at how are we communicating with an email, postcard, things like that, and then we assessed. We realized in some areas we were extremely heavy, probably to the point of oversaturating. But then we looked through the rest of the psycle we realized there are sometimes that we're probably under communicating. So we tried to together our teams figured out, okay, let's look at this cadence. But then, in another phrase that I like to use a lot, its intellectual honesty. We were really intellectually honest with ourselves of is what we're saying really relevant? Is it authentic? Is it live our brand? Or we just to see the same and so we spent some time read and in that was a that was a laborious exercise, but it was also an aullhall moment. And you know what, you can do that if your budget is zero. You can sit down and you can map that journey and understand what are you saying it, because it's always the right message to the right person at the right time. Thank you, Christine. Yeah, from my perspective I would say, you know, if you're sitting in my roles a chief and Roman officer, fine, your chief marketing officer and get really close and and connect. I think that it's really important to have strong relationships. But my big piece is that I think that education and cross pollination is critically important. So the more that you can share and cross pollinate, so having your marketing people in your enrollment management meetings occasionally. Last year I was in the huddle with Julie's team. My understanding of the work that their team is doing I can now share with our it team that's working on a problem. So Julie doesn't have to be there until we get to a certain level. But by doing that, in Cross pollinating and educating everyone, Katie Benet, who's on her team, is like, well, you know what, this idea came from this meeting that we had, and she understands a work we're doing. I understand the work they're doing, and... it really helps you get further faster. And so if there's anything I would say is is really you got a partner tight but you also have to make sure that you're providing in the information and you're listening and that you're using that to inform the decisions you're making moving forward. Thank you, Christine, and thank you, Julie. Thank you both for your time and being part of our first two episode experiment. I think Bart would agree that it has gone extremely well. So again, thank you for joining us on the Higher Ed Marketer and for our commercial. The Higher Ed Marketer podcast is sponsored by Kable solutions and education, marketing and branding agency and by thing patented, a marketing, execution, printing and mailing provider of higher it solutions. On behalf of my partner in creation, Bart Taylor, I'm chroice singer. Thank you for doining us. You've been listening to the Higher Ed Marketer. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. If you're listening with apple PODCASTS, we'd love for you to leave a quick rating of the show. Simply tap the number of stars you think the podcast deserves. Until next time.

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