Using Consumer Data to Target Adult Student Recruitment - Converge Consulting

Using Consumer Data to Target Adult Student Recruitment

The world of Higher Education is rapidly changing. The number of prospective students is shrinking while the number of institutions has remained rather fixed. Online programs compete with brick and mortar campuses and people are finding it more and more difficult to find time to return to school to complete their degree or get an advanced degree. So, this begs the question “How can we find prospective students?”

Every business has a profile of their customers. Higher Education is no different. You can look in your classrooms and see that the students fit a “demographic profile”. Age, income, race, family status, employment status are all key indicators. The problem is, most institutions have NO idea what their demographic profile of students might be. I had a client one time who relied on their in-house database that they built to analyze future campaigns. The problem was, according to their database, the average age of an adult student was 82, and the oldest student was 134. Let’s see, what’s wrong with this picture?

So, the question becomes what can you do about this issue? The issue of privacy is rampant these days. Yet, we share our demographic data rather freely. Consumer databases know more about who we are, what we make, what we do for hobbies, than many spouses know. The ability to append data to a record is simple and easy. Key demographic characteristics would include Age, Household Income, Level of Education, Family Status, Dwelling Type, Ethnicity, etc. These are just a few variables that are available to be appended to a database of prospects. Once you know WHO is attending your institution you need to look for more prospects who fit that description.
So, what can you do?

  • Append key demographic data to each student’s record. Go back no further than 2 or 3 years since data goes old VERY quickly.
  • Evaluate what those demographic variables can tell you. Age ranges, income ranges, family composition, or any other variable you feel is important to defining what type of students you are attracting.
  • Evaluate the geographic distribution of your students. Why waste money trying to attract students who are 40 miles away from your institution when the furthest anyone is traveling is 20 miles?
  • Once you know who you are looking for and where they are, the next question is how many are there? Run a count using a reputable list broker to identify how many prospects there are within your market area.

So far, this is relatively straight forward. The next question is how do we reach these prospects? That requires further analysis looking at different media, response rates, ROI calculations and a cost benefit analysis. Beyond knowing how to reach these prospects, you must keep in mind the most important issue is how do we get these prospects to respond? That discussion is best left to another blog.

If you have any questions or need help in solving these issues don’t hesitate to reach out to Converge, or you can write me directly at

David Fant
David Fant
April 4, 2019