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How A/B Testing Failures Reveal Bigger Opportunities

Failing Forward: Unlock Hidden Insights

As marketers we are always pushing to grow, break new ground, and stay ahead of our competition. We may test a new advertising approach, a different angle on a value proposition, build channel partnerships, or realign our marketing for performance and growth.

An area perhaps less explored is when bright ideas fail to live up to expectations. Testing is a science but mostly it’s trial and error where breakthroughs come by being curious around the why-of-things, especially when results flop.

Understanding your prospects at their level and being able to communicate to their needs and aspirations is the foundation of all great breakthroughs

In a recent landing page test for Google Ads, we started to notice some common trends for expensive to market programs that had commonality among competition. Most schools were running these programs, Google search advertising was expensive and cost per leads were higher than we wanted for our clients. We were having some breakthrough success across other program landing page tests, improving conversion rates by 30% on average, so we adopted a similar approach to what we’ve called our “problem programs.” Think teenage angst.

Pages were built with a new design, rewritten, and expectations were high. To our surprise and disappointment, the tests dropped performance and increased cost per lead so we stopped the test to protect ROI.

You can go two ways with a situation like this:

  1. Determine that the control is the better version and carry on to a new test
  2. Question why performance went in the opposite direction we wanted

In many ways, conversion rate optimization analysts will forgo the failure and move on to something new. The tendency is to seek the win, which is great, but often that win or insight can be hidden in the failure.

We tend to lean in on curiosity.

Since Virtual Advisor encapsulates the stories behind a prospects’ journey, we started to dig into the data we had on those programs. We also questioned if the program value proposition wasn’t aligned with where the prospect was in their journey.

Were they already invested in the career? Were they just starting their research? Why are they inquiring now? To help answer these questions, we decided to use our form technology to trigger a seamless survey on a second step form. We then combined that data with Virtual Advisor’s quantitative and qualitative data on these programs and started to uncover some blind spots in our copywriting.

In most instances, our prospects had been thinking about the career for some time, in many cases years. The pandemic has been an interesting catalyst for many folks looking to explore a different path in their lives. The knowledge that the career path is not new to them and they have done their research prompted us to reframe how we spoke to them in our copy.

We’re currently on iteration #3 for this test and will likely have results in the new year but the point is not necessarily about the end result in this case. It got our wheels turning around leveraging our form technology and aligning Virtual Advisor user data to improve your school’s conversion rates in other ways we hadn’t thought of before exploring why our tests had failed.

Understanding your prospects at their level and being able to communicate to their needs and aspirations is the foundation of all great breakthroughs.

Any insights you can attain to further your understanding and have more meaningful conversations, online and offline, is a recipe for great things. Combine that with seamless technology to foster a supportive user experience, it begins to get really interesting.

This will be one of the sessions at our 3rd Enrollment Builder Best-Practice Virtual Conference – we would love to see you there!

Your School’s Core Strength

Your School’s Core Strength, By Gregg Meiklejohn, co-founder of Enrollment Resources

Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash

When training for a sport or physical endeavor, the best personal trainers direct their client’s focus to one key thing — their core strength — to ensure they have a strong and stable base. Before investing effort and time in the legs, arms, and chest, etc., the trainer creates strength, stability, and power in the body’s core first. When the body’s core is strong, the other parts cruise along for the ride.

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[Podcast] How 1% Improvements Can Translate Into Millions Of Dollars

Enrollment Management Round Table with Enrollment ResourcesIt’s shocking how little effort it actually takes to be more successful than your competition. In this episode, Gregg, Shane, and Tom of Enrollment Resources are joined by special guest Brian Willett to show you how your school can catapult over your rivals through strategic and compounding one percent improvements!

Takeaways include:

  • The unfortunate reason why second best is actually the first loser
  • How to start making 1% improvements by rethinking the habits you take for granted
  • The specific, easy and immediate ways your school can make 1% improvements to increase your conversion rates TODAY

Read more

[Transcript] How 1% Improvements Can Translate Into Millions Of Dollars

Enrollment Management Round Table with Enrollment Resources TranscriptThis is the full transcript of Podcast #46 “How 1% Improvements Can Translate Into Millions Of Dollars” hosted by Gregg Meiklejohn, Shane Sparks, Tom King and special guest Brian Willett.

Listen to it on demand here.

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The Hidden Motivations Of Your Prospective Students

Enrollment Resources recently compiled data from over 125,000 prospective students who had completed a detailed online survey delving into their goals, frustrations, motivations and current life/work situations. We call this the “Career Training Readiness Quiz” (powered by our Virtual Adviser software). It is designed to do two things: Engage prospective students on the school’s website to help generate additional leads – typically a 30 percent bump in website generated lead flow – and help the prospective student understand if they are a fit for vocational education. Roughly 2.2 percent of unique visitors to a typical school’s website will engage with this survey.

The sample represented about 90 school systems across the U.S. and Canada with a wide variety of programs, including both male- and female-dominated programs.

Our analysis of the results has uncovered fascinating insights into career education prospective students, including where they are in their buying process, their dominant personality styles and how to communicate with them effectively, and the number one motivating trigger driving their buying decisions. Read more

[Podcast] Enrollment During High Employment Conditions

Enrollment Management Round Table with Enrollment ResourcesYour pool of leads could be shrinking, and fast. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, United States unemployment was just 3.9% in April. If your marketing is focused on people looking for work, then you need to take another look at today’s education market.

In this episode, the Enrollment Resources Panel explores alternative ways to fill your Career School’s lead funnel when it seems like everyone already has a job. Click to listen to Enrollment During High Employment Conditions: How to adapt to today’s education market. Read more

[Bite-Sized Big Ideas] A Peek Around The Corner

Get the big ideas we at Enrollment Resources believe leaders in the Education space should be thinking about in a bite-sized article or audio clip.

2 minute read

Audio available

The US has ratified a travel ban on several countries and it appears, by extension, to be making it tougher for students from other countries to feel welcome in the US. For example, the emerging trade war with China: Chinese authorities are publicly considering popping tariffs on students who want to study in the United States. Also, it appears the denial of US postgraduate Working Visas are making it tougher for grads to stay on and work at externships.

If there indeed is a contraction of international students, how will this play out? Listen or read after the jump! Read more

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Podcast

Podcast #46: How 1% Improvements Can Translate Into Millions Of Dollars

It’s shocking how little effort it actually takes to be more successful than your competition. In this episode, Gregg, Shane, and Tom of Enrollment Resources are joined by special guest Brian Willett to show you how your school can catapult over your rivals through strategic and compounding one percent improvements!

Takeaways include:

  • The unfortunate reason why second best is actually the first loser
  • How to start making 1% improvements by rethinking the habits you take for granted
  • The specific, easy and immediate ways your school can make 1% improvements to increase your conversion rates TODAY

Take the first steps toward small changes that will have a substantial and lasting impact at your school. Listen now!

Transcript available here.

Podcast #44: Enrollment During High Employment Conditions

Your pool of leads could be shrinking, and fast. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, United States unemployment was just 3.9% in April. If your marketing is focused on people looking for work, then you need to take another look at today’s education market.

In this episode, the Enrollment Resources Panel explores alternative ways to fill your Career School’s lead funnel when it seems like everyone already has a job. Click to listen to Enrollment During High Employment Conditions: How to adapt to today’s education market. Read more

Podcast #42: How to Create a Culture Of Innovation

An innovative school has a lasting and defendable competitive advantage.

So why are so many schools shuffling through the same stale enrollment management processes as their competition? Simply because it’s “how things have always been done”?

16 years ago, co-founders Shane Sparks and Gregg Meiklejohn committed to creating and nurturing a culture of innovation at Enrollment Resources. The benefits have been — and continue to be — boundless.

Listen to this episode to learn how, in practical terms, you can create a culture of innovation at your school from people who have done it themselves.

Enjoyed this series? Check out our upcoming webinars, boot camps, and speaking engagements on our our Events page!