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Educating Online Universities on Driving Down Enrollment Costs

University Business, Oct 2011

The success of online education giant University of Phoenix has inspired a host of web-based higher learning and career training institutions. And while this increase is indicative of a growing demand for remote learning options, it also makes delivering the right student to the right school more challenging. Generating leads for the sake of generating leads is an inefficient customer acquisition strategy. Qualified leads delivered exclusively to your online education landing page from a robust affiliate network are what drive results, namely increases in callable rates, hot transfer rates, student enrollment, and reduced enrollment costs.

It is just as important for people designing online education programs and portals to fully understand their goals as it is for students. Knowing what you hope to achieve will help trustworthy affiliate networks improve offer targeting. Partnering with a reliable affiliate, one with a suite of performance marketing services like email, search, data acquisition and display advertising at its disposal is vital to success in a popular and, at times, heavily saturated vertical.

Unfortunately, it is common practice among disreputable affiliates to sell and resell leads to bring down their own expenses and heighten ROI. Aligning with such networks will force online education portals to learn a harsh lesson in shady monetization tactics. These vertical programs must do their homework to maximize the effectiveness of their spend.

Students researching online universities are looking for classes and degree programs relevant to their professional goals. If you were interested in pursuing a career in criminal justice, you would not opt in for information on culinary schools. Relevance is similarly essential for education programs looking for an affiliate. It only makes sense that you would join a network with a proven track record of delivering quality leads to your portal.

When conducting affiliate research, there are several factors that will distinguish a good fit from a bad fit. The right network should be able to build and host select microsites dedicated to your education portal or degree program. It would be advantageous to choose an affiliate that utilizes proprietary and third-party technologies. Such advancements improve lead filtering, qualification and validation methods. Networks associated with performance marketing services are best equipped to continually test and optimize your campaign. This level of commitment to continuous improvement enables affiliates to maintain the lowest cost per enrollment by passing back individual publisher IDs and monitoring performance by source. It bears repeating that perhaps the most important factor for online education programs to consider is the affiliate's ability to ensure the exclusivity of their leads. Exclusivity means quality, and quality drives results.

The online education vertical is certainly a competitive marketplace. That's great for web-based learning programs—if they are able to connect with the right students. It all starts with partnering with the proper affiliate, an experienced network with vertical expertise capable of increasing enrollment rates, and lowering enrollment costs. It is a sound performance strategy that will produce qualified leads taking your online learning program to the head of the class.

–Daryl Colwell is vice president of business development for Monetizeit, the MediaWhiz Affiliate Network [link to: ], a division of the SolutionSet MediaWhiz Partnership. He manages client procurement efforts for the affiliate network, which is comprised of over 6,000 affiliates. Additionally, Colwell oversees the MediaWhiz Performance Sales division, which generates over $70 million in annual revenue.

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