Published on 23-Sep-2011
"Without the IBM Coremetrics data, we would have seen Facebook as only obliquely connected with top-line enrollment and bottom-line revenue goals. Because of the data, we can see that Facebook is a significant and subtly sophisticated new front in the development of markets for the university." - Senior Director Strategic Marketing Seton Hall University Smarter Education
Cloud Computing, EMM - Digital Marketing Optimization, SaaS, Smarter Commerce, Smarter Marketing, Smarter Planet
Seton Hall University is a major Catholic university located in South Orange, New Jersey. In a diverse and collaborative environment, it focuses on academic and ethical development. Seton Hall students are prepared to be leaders in their professional and community lives in a global society and are challenged by outstanding faculty, an evolving and technologically advanced setting, and values-centered curricula.
• Extend the Seton Hall experience to prospective students • Reach students at the place where they already spend their time • Increase enrollments and revenues
• Used integrated marketing optimization solutions from IBM Coremetrics to understand how students move through the recruitment process • Added Coremetrics Impression Attribution functionality to provide visibility into social media channels
• Achieved 25 percent tuition deposit lift and 18 percent enrollment lift through Facebook • Helped the university to make more informed decisions regarding their marketing investment
More than 500 million active users share the Facebook experience. Eager to reach this fast-growing marketing channel, online brands are investing heavily to build a Facebook presence. But is the investment paying off? Without solid metrics, online brands cannot assess performance and payback. And without this knowledge, it is impossible to unleash the full potential of Facebook or any of today’s social media.
As a private educational institution, Seton Hall University relies on tuition as its primary source of revenue. Prospective students consider degree programs, reputation, location, and many other factors as they “shop” for a college.
But a college education encompasses more than tangible product characteristics such as these. Much of the college experience is about the relationships students build once they arrive on campus—in the classroom, in the dorm, and through participation in on-campus events and organizations.
The university’s online marketers sensed that social media—in particular, Facebook—would enable them to extend the Seton Hall experience to prospective students. Their target “customer,” they reasoned, belongs to a generation that spends a significant amount of time on social sites. So instead of trying to draw future students to the university site, the marketers sought to reach them where they already spend their time. The marketing staff believed this approach might engage students earlier in the recruitment process and, as a result, increase enrollments and revenues.
Like many online marketers, however, they were skeptical of Facebook as a marketing tool. In the past, they had acquired traffic by advertising on Facebook. But typically, people who clicked through on the advertisements did not engage in a meaningful way on www.shu.edu.
The marketers suspected, however, that interactions on Facebook might be enticing qualified prospects to visit the website through other channels such as search or direct load. But they did not have a way to make a direct connection between the two.
Instrumented Captures information about prospective students’ interests and questions by tagging Facebook pages with impression attribution tags.
Interconnected Links online and offline marketing data, which allows the university to maximize marketing spend with outreach programs most likely to provide results.
Intelligent Identifies correlations between social media usage and traditional marketing campaigns with subsequent applications and enrollments.
IBM® Coremetrics® Impression Attribution makes the link
Seton Hall has used integrated marketing optimization solutions from IBM Coremetrics for several years to understand how students move through the recruitment process. As social media has evolved, IBM Coremetrics has added functionality to provide visibility into social media channels. One example is Coremetrics Impression Attribution, which connects marketing impressions across the Internet to subsequent behaviors and conversions that occur on a marketer’s website.
Additionally, with IBM® Coremetrics® Social Analytics, online marketers have a centralized console where they can track the ROI of social channels alongside other channels, analyze the impact of referral visitors from social networking sites, monitor the downstream impact of social content impressions, and track real-time conversations on both Facebook and Twitter.
Seton Hall marketers recently used these capabilities successfully in an initiative to increase enrollment for the upcoming academic year. The project involved the launch of the Class of 2014 Facebook page. The goal was to extend the core one-to-one brand attributes of Seton Hall to prospective students, including a sense of community, feeling of home, diversity of experience and sometimes, simply fun.
The staff tagged custom Class of 2014 tabs with the Coremetrics Impression Attribution tag, making it possible to identify any www.shu.edu visitors who had also interacted with Facebook. Using IBM Coremetrics analytics and reporting, marketers could then examine the behavior of these visitors.
In addition, the Seton Hall staff began responding to prospective students’ requests for help—from orientation, to deposit status, to placement tests to housing. Soon, “declarations” (posts where prospective students announce a decision such as major, orientation date, or interest in a club or sport) had risen to 47 percent of all posts.
The IBM Coremetrics data showed that visitors who interacted heavily with the Class of 2014 pages demonstrated a high level of engagement with the university website as well. For example, they were more likely to request information and fill out applications than other visitors. The data collected revealed that Facebook was not only important to Seton Hall—it was critical.
Facebook group formation
Prospective students used the Facebook pages to connect with current and prospective students, self-forming groups based on majors, common interests, geographical location and even residence hall room number.
The “Facebook effect” was unanticipated, but fit naturally with SHU’s historical strengths and proved to be a tangible influence in the decision process. In effect, fence sitters were convinced to attend Seton Hall by other incoming freshmen.
25 percent deposit lift; 18 percent enrollment lift
By midsummer (two months before classes were to begin), tuition deposits for the class of 2014 were 25 percent higher than the previous year at the same time. Moreover, enrollment was tracking at 13 percent ahead of the previous year’s class.
By the end of the enrollment period, Seton Hall had its largest freshmen class in 30 years, accounting for an 18 percent increase in net present revenue of USD29 million. These results were particularly staggering given the prevailing trend of lower enrollment for many institutes of higher education.
By enabling Seton Hall to capture data on the Facebook interactions and perform a deep level of analysis, IBM Coremetrics is enabling the university to make more informed decisions regarding their marketing investment.
The overall initiative has eliminated any remaining skepticism about the value of Facebook. The university has embraced Facebook as a vitally important recruitment channel.
Seton Hall is now looking at new ways to exploit the power of this new channel. To that end, the online marketing staff regularly shares information on Facebook usage and influence with key stakeholders, including admissions and housing. Together they are working to develop an infrastructure to deal with implications of the changing way today’s students expect—and even demand—to interact with the university.
For more information
To learn more about IBM Coremetrics please contact your IBM marketing representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website: ibm.com/software/marketing-solutions
Products and services used
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