I know it may seem a bit odd to be discussing retention when fall recruitment just ended. However, I think this is the most important time of the year to be thinking about and planning for a strong retention strategy.
It seems the number of ways I’ve seen to approach retention is equal to the number of colleges I’ve worked with; every community college seems to have their own unique system in place. Which of course isn’t a bad thing!
Regardless of if your college has a retention department/director, and how they are integrated with your marketing department (if at all!), I really think you and your marketing team should be deeply involved with anything related to retention.
Now, please notice, I didn’t say you should control every aspect of it, only that you should be involved with every aspect.
What I feel you should have control over is anything that will be shown to, communicated to, etc., to any student.
Serving any kind of asset to a current student, that is intended to influence their decision to remain a student, is really no different than serving an asset to a prospective student. So you and your department should own this task. Fight for it if you have to!
Why am I so adamant about this? Ultimately, every community college marketer is going to be judged by their college’s FTE. Improving retention is the single easiest way to improve your FTE; it is easier to convince an existing student to stay another semester, than it is to convince a new student to apply and enroll.
So, now what we’ve established what you should be in control of, let’s get back to the original question: “What should a retention campaign look like?”
In the past, at Rekrewt, we commissioned proprietary research of persons that dropped out or quit community college before completing their degree, certification, etc. The number one reason for them dropping out, at 24%, was not having enough support from the college. Support defined as tutoring, career advisors, financial aid assistance, etc.
This is frustrating as everyone watching, listening, or reading this right now knows that their college has all of these student resources on campus. So, the real reason the students dropped out isn’t because your college didn’t have the resources they need; it is because they didn’t know you had the resources, or they weren’t easily accessible to them.
With that said, you now probably know the answer to our original question.
A successful retention campaign should make current students aware of all of the resources available to them. What they are… How easily accessible they are… How they’re free to utilize…
You can try email to achieve this goal, and we certainly do, but students are very likely to ignore these emails, as they get so many from your college already. It is hard to be noticed.
So, we recommend creating ad campaigns on social media that target current students. Create great content that showcases these resources, and promote that content.
Timing can be tricky, as creating and running these ads for entire semesters can get expensive. Therefore, if your budget doesn’t allow that, we recommend having bursts of ads immediately after classes start, at the middle of the semester, and near the end of the semester.
As you can tell, this is a deep subject that I could discuss in much more detail. And, in fact, I’m going to! On September 25th, 2019, at noon eastern, we’re having a live webinar: Retaining the Students You Just Recruited.
We’re going to dive deep into the best strategies for college marketers to improve FTE by improving retention. Registration is completely free, and if you’re unable to attend live, I’ll email you a link to watch on-demand after the stream.
Click here to register now. I’m really looking forward to this, and I hope you mark it on your calendar now to join us live.