NEW YORK, Nov. 19, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- LeadsCouncil, an independent association dedicated to advancing the online lead generation industry, today announced that the largest U.S. universities see digital channels as the competitive edge in attracting top talent in the crowded admissions space. In a survey of enrollment, marketing and operations professionals at nearly 100 universities, LeadsCouncil found that institutions plan to optimize leads purchased from outside vendors and blend in leads fielded directly by universities to achieve lead quality goals. The complete findings of the new study are available in the 2014 Education Benchmarking Report.
Among key results, the report reveals that schools use paid search, search engine optimization (SEO), mobile and social to generate high quality student leads, while continuing to invest in lead optimization tools to get value from first party data (leads generated internally) and third party data (leads purchased from vendors).
"Schools have invested significantly in third party lead generation the last few years, but there is much optimization work to be done," said Michael Ferree, director, LeadsCouncil. "Marketers are looking for the keys to unlock value from data."
The study was conducted in collaboration with LeadiD, the company bringing trust and transparency to customer acquisition intelligence, and Sparkroom, a leader in performance marketing for the higher education industry.
Gaining value from third party resources
As the report indicates, schools invested heavily in third party lead generation in 2014; approximately one-third said they invested more than $5 million. They will continue to do so in 2015 while striving to make better use of these leads. While the lead generation ecosystem has made recent strides in providing higher quality data, more than half of those surveyed expressed the need to continue improving lead quality and performance.
Schools will lean on lead optimization tools for quality, value and regulatory compliance. Nearly a quarter of those surveyed plan to invest more in lead verification services next year. The report also highlights the need to better understand insights produced by these tools; 43 percent expressed some doubt in their ability to fully maximize their data resources.
"These findings support what we've seen in education as marketers today can better qualify leads by focusing beyond top-level insights, like vendor and source, to much more robust bundles of lead data for a vivid picture of consumer intent," said Ross Shanken, CEO, LeadiD. "New lead intelligence instruments bring a new level of trust and transparency to enhance the ecosystem's performance as a whole."
Investment in first party strategies
Those surveyed plan to dedicate more resources to first party tactics such as paid search (approximately 77 percent), SEO (approximately 73 percent), mobile marketing (approximately 64 percent) and social media marketing (approximately 61 percent) in 2015, as they chase a more balanced lead generation mix.
"These results, particularly surrounding the inefficiencies of third party lead generation, align with what we've seen in our data over the past 18 months," said Liz Dye, director of marketing analytics, Sparkroom. "Declining conversion rates for external leads divert funds from solely third party channels toward a more diverse and efficient mix of first party channels. We anticipate this moving into 2015 and beyond."
LeadsCouncil is the first independent industry organization dedicated strictly to advancing online lead generation. The group focuses on best practices, research, education, and networking to provide a more transparent and effective marketplace for online lead generation.
LeadiD is the only independent, neutral, open technology platform that allows marketers to know the certified origin, history and network intelligence of every lead. LeadiD's comprehensive AppMarketplace offers plug-and-play solutions for TCPA compliance, fraud detection, data validation, scoring, and more. For more information, visit LeadiD.com.
Sparkroom is the leader in performance marketing for the higher education industry, providing fully transparent, analytics-based strategies customized to meet school enrollment objectives. Sparkroom provides marketing services and software for improved efficacy of enrollment campaigns. Sparkroom is owned by Nelnet ( NYSE: NNI) and part of the Nelnet Enrollment Solutions family of brands.
SOURCE LeadsCouncil; LeadiD; Sparkroom