Three Ways to Get a Head Start on Your 2015 Admissions Targets
December already?! This is a busy time of setting enrollment goals, reviewing the calendar, planning next year’s activities and student recruitment spots.
It’s also a great time for me to share three ways to give you a head start on achieving your 2015 admissions targets when using the Graduate Management Admission Search Service® (GMASS®) database, an invaluable tool that lets you tailor your approach to reaching potential applicants and do your job more effectively.
- Evaluate your approaches to finding candidates.
The most pressing challenge I heard in speaking with admissions recruiters and enrollment managers was discovering new and more effective ways to attract qualified applicants. This was not surprising given the recent ups and downs in application trends for certain business school programs. Some of the best strategies I’ve seen from schools using GMASS have come after they stepped back and evaluated what activities were conducted in the year and reviewed how they found candidates. My advice is to determine the extent to which 2014 efforts were successful and/or met or did not meet expectations. In most cases, you may be on the right track, but outreach might may have fallen short on targeting or timing. Look at your GMASS searches, consider the targeting and the timing. Did you customize your GMASS searches with multiple criteria selections? Doing a review on paper not only forces you to measure results, but it opens the door to discovering the ways your school can improve messaging.
- Communicate early.
There are two main populations of prospects available in GMASS: those who may be just starting their business school information gathering and not yet taken the GMAT (pre-test candidates) and those with GMAT test scores. Pre-GMAT names are a powerful way to extend brand awareness to potential candidates who are early in the process. Early awareness increases the likelihood to be on a candidate’s radar when they are creating their short list. Consider contacting each of these candidate groups with a message that is likely to resonate with where they are in their decision-making process. Also, take advantage of free advertising opportunities on the mba.com calendar of events, maximize what candidates can learn about your program in the School Finder tool on mba.com, or contribute an Ask the School Expert blog on mba.com to get your name and your program in front of potential candidates.
- Try something new! Test a different type of message to candidates.
The quality of candidate information is what drives strong satisfaction among schools using GMASS. Although most messages to candidates highlight more traditional marketing or specific school activities, there is rich opportunity to test new and alternative messages to get candidates’ attention. Why not use your candidate list to:
- Purchase a small sample of GMASS names and test two email subject lines to see which performs better, then purchase a larger sample of names and use the better performing message.
- Consider testing your school’s branding campaign concepts.
- Promote scholarship opportunities.
With more than 30 candidate data points, think about what new or alternative pieces of information on these leads you can use in your outreach. For example, are you sending a different message to candidates based on undergraduate degree? If you’re looking for content, consider using some of the resources on the GMAC News Center about the Value of the MBA, Entrepreneurship, or Big Data.
Moving forward, think about what insights can offer additional inspiration for 2015. Dust off your notes from past best-practice sessions at GMAC events or refer to your school’s research reports in combination with GMASS lead information. You might want to consider the insights from the mba.com Prospective Students Survey to learn how candidates develop their short lists of schools. This will you focus your efforts to target prospective students, craft communications, and develop your future GMASS searches.
Whether your school plans to launch a new program or aims to expand its admissions targets for 2015, I’ll be eager to assist and look forward to working with you!
About the Author
Paula McKay is the director of School Products at the Graduate Management Admission Council.