With increasing competition in the higher education landscape and an array of digital tactics at your disposal, it’s harder than ever to resonate with prospective students and truly make an impact. Just reaching prospective students is no longer enough. You have to “engage” with them throughout the student journey in an effective and measurable way. But what is student engagement exactly? And just as importantly how do measure it?

What is Student Engagement?

More than just applications, student engagement is any meaningful involvement with your presence. But how do you earn it? Creating content for each stage of the student journey will play a big role.

In a previous post, we talked about ways to increase student engagement on social media but social media isn’t the only place this engagement takes place. You’ll want to harness the power of student engagement across platforms (and those offline IRL touch-points) and throughout the student journey from prospect to alumni to make the most of your marketing efforts.

The engagements you track for your institution will depend on your goals and where the student is in their journey. That being said any steps along the way to conversion should all be taken into account. Engagements such as likes, shares, email opens, and web traffic are important to track but remember to consider those larger engagements that truly make an impact as well. Things like…

  • Registering for an info session (on-campus or online)
  • Taking a pre-assessment
  • Reaching out to an admissions representative, career center representative, or faculty member
  • Submitting an application
  • Event registration
  • Donations from Alumni

How do you Measure Student Engagement?

Now that you’ve spent all this time trying to earn student engagement don’t you want to know how well it’s working? After all, knowing how and when students are engaging can only help you engage with them further.

Measurement should always be an integrated effort across your presence so you can get an idea of the big picture. No matter which metrics your institution is tracking, if you really want to showcase the ROI of your higher-ed marketing efforts you’ll need to start with a measurement plan. This plan lays out the exact metrics you’ll be tracking (and what constitutes success) so your whole team is on the same page.

Once your plan is in place you’re ready to start measuring! It can be tempting to focus only on that big “submit an application” engagement, but don’t let the smaller engagements slip through the cracks. Dig into your Google Analytics and other available data and look for any patterns in student engagement as well. How long does it take students to complete the desired action? Are there key pages on your site or marketing materials they engaged with along the way? Have you noticed any common gaps or barriers to engagement that keep popping up? This is where setting benchmarks and optimizing for success comes into play.