Student management

Teachers, here’s how to find your perfect student with AI

Opinions expressed by Contractor the contributors are theirs.

Marketing and education don’t seem to belong in the same phrase, do they? Add artificial intelligence to the mix, and you’d be forgiven for thinking the lesson is completely out of whack. But there is in fact a very strong correlation between these three elements, which is bound to change the face of the educational space for students as well as for institutions.

Find your ideal students and help them find you

Marketing is all about figuring out who your ideal customers are and then figuring out how to target them, and education marketing is no different. Students are your customers and student success is the ultimate goal. They use a multitude of resources to find the institution they end up enrolling in, and the key is to figure out what those paths are, how often they lead to graduation, and what your ideal student looks like.

With only 60% of all students enrolled in college graduating (according to Mark Kantrowitz’s 2021 book, Who graduated from college? Who doesn’t? : How to Increase College Graduation Rates Without Sacrificing College Access), it is clear that there is work to be done to streamline the recruitment and registration process. Using AI, it’s possible to track the commonalities between students who enroll, persist, and graduate from an institution, so you can start replicating that sequence over and over again.

Why AI?

There are many data points on a student’s journey to graduation, and that journey doesn’t just begin with enrollment. It would take far too long for a person to sift through this mass of information, but AI has the ability to systematically analyze the data to make predictions and surface insights in a fraction of the time.

The sales cycle in education is much longer than in most industries. Therefore, to methodically track all data over time, you also need a system that doesn’t wear time blinders. A brief overview of a customer’s business can be useful in companies with a shorter sales cycle, but in education, what a student did a year ago can have a direct impact on his choices today.

Related: 5 ways AI is changing the face of learning

Thus, marketing in this space must be linked to a customer relationship management (CRM) system. Your CRM-derived data provides information about the commonalities between the students whose paths you want to replicate. How did your graduates find you? What courses did they choose? How did they finance their studies? All of this, combined with the mass of AI data insights, can be converted into a powerful marketing strategy guaranteed to find the right students and improve their pass rates.

Peel the onion… upside down

Marketing in education is a complex process. You don’t just focus on signups. There are many touchpoints to keep in mind between signing on the dotted (digital) line and receiving a degree, and you want to track them all to maximize revenue. At the heart, however, is the center of the onion, the ultimate goal: graduation. To make sure we don’t miss any of the lucrative layers in between, we market backwards, peeling back the layers until we get to the point of first contact. Then we reply.

This is slightly different from the standard sales attribution process that a disposable product company might use, for example. Attribution follows customers from their first touchpoint and seeks to understand each of their online and offline touchpoints along the way. While we certainly still need to figure this out in education, we’re not just looking for enrollment. A successful “sell” in the space is one that not only goes through enrollment, but continues through graduation.

Related: Why attribution is all that should matter in digital marketing

Graduation time

For a long time, an educational institution could safely rely solely on its reputation and course portfolio to attract suitable students, but times have changed. Why not use the tools at your disposal to increase not only your enrollment rates, but also (and more importantly) the number of graduates?

If you think you know who the perfect student is for your institution, you might be surprised at how much information you’re missing. AI can help you harness the mass of data at your fingertips and identify, secure and retain the right candidates.

Find, enroll, educate, graduate and repeat.