Colleges and universities are just like other businesses. They have goals to meet and numbers to measure. They must compete for prospects and move them through the funnel. An important, but often overlooked, aspect of this process is marketing attribution. Marketing attribution metrics have an impact on recruitment and enrollment numbers, and by understanding them, you can help boost enrollment.

Let’s start by discussing what marketing attribution is and how it can help your higher institution’s enrollment numbers.

Marketing Attribution Explained

Marketing attribution is the science of determining which touchpoints drive purchases. Each touchpoint is assigned a credit to indicate how valuable it is during the purchase process. When executed properly, you can identify which channels are most influential and where you should be putting more of your marketing dollars.

Since marketing attribution can be confusing, we’ve outlined some key points you should know.

  • Touchpoints are the foundation of marketing attribution. Touchpoints refer to any form of engagementthat you have with a prospect, both online and offline.

  • A significant amount of data can be handled with marketing attribution. This includes your various marketing channels and marketing automation.

  • Basic attribution models can be set up using things you already have in place, such as Google Analytics, KPIs and CRM software.

  • Marketing attribution isn’t perfect. But that’s what testing is for. By testing your copy, images, lead forms, etc., you can assess the value of each touchpoint so that you’re spending money more effectively.

Getting back to the higher education sector, let’s discuss how the recruitment and enrollment processes have changed over the years, and why marketing attribution can make a difference.

The Digital Age and its Impact on Recruitment and Enrollment

Today’s students seek information differently than in years past. Online communities, social media, websites and forums fuel college searches, as students decide which program is right for them. This means that there are a lot of people out there speaking on your behalf. What they have to say could help or hurt enrollment.

Second, higher education is becoming more reliant on tuition. In other words, your school is being funded directly by the students who attend there. Students who are financially stable make excellent candidates, but they must also be capable of doing well in your program and completing as intended. Otherwise, it’s a drain on your resources and theirs.

In the end, recruitment and enrollment managers must focus their resources on students who have a high chance of enrollment and are also financially and intellectually sound. This is where marketing attribution becomes useful.

How Marketing Attribution Measures Performance

Right off the bat, it’s difficult to know which of your campaigns resulted in the highest enrollment numbers. This can take months to determine, but you don’t have to wait that long to get the answers you need. As soon as a student is admitted, collect information about them, such as where they are from, what their test scores are and how financially stable they are.

Using these data points, you can better understand the types of students that are most likely to enroll in your program. For example, you might notice that you have many students from a certain geographical region or income range. With these predictors, you can segment specific groups of students based on how likely they are to enroll.

Of course, when a student is accepted into your school, it’s not a guarantee they will choose you. It’s almost certain that they applied to several other schools and now must make a decision. Using marketing attribution, you can determine which touchpoints are most critical to their journey.

For example, students who ultimately enroll in your program might interact with certain pieces of content more than others or have a higher number of visits to your website. As you better understand the student journey, you can use the right mix of marketing channels to increase the likelihood that students will select your school.


Successful marketing attribution models require touchpoint data.

By looking at the various contacts you have with enrolled students, you can get a better understanding of the types of students that are most likely to enroll and which touchpoints are most influential. Use this data, map out which campaigns are working well and where to put your budget.

In the end, marketing attribution is an effective and affordable tool that all higher education professionals should be using.