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Gaining an Edge in College Admissions Yield – Part Two

In Part One we discussed how several institutions including the University of Hartford and Southern New Hampshire University achieved substantial increases in their yield rates with One to One communication by sending accepted students a customized yield publication. These publications showed students the aspects of the institution that were most important to them. 

New Results from a 2010 Study

Research conducted by Southern New Hampshire University this spring showed that sending a customized yield publication with the right creative design is one of the marketing communication strategies that continue to work even in this difficult economic climate. SNHU, which had previously sent a personalized yield piece to each accepted student now divided their accepted students into two groups: an experimental group that would continue to receive this customized direct mail and a control group that would get everything the university normally sent except that piece. Here are the results: 

  • Total Accepted Students – 3,443

  • Experimental Group receiving the customized yield piece – 3105

    • Deposits from Test Group – 898

    • Yield Rate – 28.9%

  • Control Group (no customized piece) – 338

    • Deposits from Control Group – 93

    • Yield Rate – 27.5%

That yield rate difference of 1.4% means that the customized yield piece added 44 to 48 students, depending on how you look at the numbers. That many students would generate more than $1,000,000 in first year tuition alone and more than $2,000,000 over two years at many institutions. Clearly, One to One communication, if done using sound psychological and design principles, works in admissions yield even in tough economic times.

An inexpensive way to increase yield using the web

One university found another way to increase their yield rate using the Internet. This strategy involved neither an expensive yield website nor Facebook. Instead this university made use of a tactic that had previously helped Proctor & Gamble achieve their most successful new product launch in corporation history.  

The admissions office conducted a marketing test in which accepted students were encouraged to enter a contest by visiting a website. At the well designed but uncomplicated site, students were asked two simple but psychologically-loaded questions. The university’s results were similar to Proctor & Gamble’s. In that recession-plagued year, the institution suffered through an overall yield rate below 20%. But students who visited the website yielded at a rate of 44.75%. 

Unlike the SNHU test, this experiment was not scientifically controlled, so that it’s possible that only the most committed accepted students visited the site. But previous controlled experiments clearly demonstrated that the principle behind this campaign was psychologically sound; after Proctor & Gamble’s marketing campaign employed the same strategy for Crest toothpaste, its sales rose 4.5% while rival Colgate’s sales remained flat. 

Enrolling accepted students in difficult economic times will always be a challenge. But yield marketing strategies that effectively blend psychology, technology and top-notch creative design will continue to prove their worth. If you’d like to learn more about the yield programs considered here, or to discuss your own yield program, please email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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