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Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

2012 Forecasts for Insurance, Mortgage, Higher Ed

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

January 19, 2021 — Ah, the New Year.  January always offers a chance to move forward with a clean slate and an eye for the future.  In that spirit, here are some blog posts that offer a look forward to 2012 and some predictions and previews for what the year has to offer in private-sector higher education, mortgage and insurance.

#1 - Five reasons why for-profit schools are here to stay via @washingtonpost – In this column, Jay Mathew’s begins his look at the future of for-profit education with a clear and definite bias against the institutions, and initial reluctance to review the book titled “Change.edu: Rebooting for the New Talent Economy” written by Kaplan’s Chairman, Andrew S. Rosen. While the book didn’t shake Mathew’s feeling completely, he noted “Rosen convinced me that for-profit educational ventures are here to stay.” He went on to detail five reasons why. http://wapo.st/sSAwCQ

#2 - The Mortgage Battlefield of 2012 via @NatlMortgagePro – John Walsh offers up his predictions for the embattled mortgage industry from the frontlines of the struggle, including continued low rates and the reemergence of innovative products. http://dlvr.it/12P29W

#3 - Experts 2012 Rate Outlook via @MortgageNewsMND – Rob Chrisman gives an overview of mortgage rates and industry predictions based on outlooks from industry experts Freddie, Fannie and others. Predictions anticipate a similar year to 2011, with HARP 2.0 and expected low interest rates throughout the year likely to have a positive impact. http://tinyurl.com/cwl8zfe

#4 - Three Ways Insurers Will Compete on Data in 2012 via @insurancetech –  highlights how analytics is likely to change insurers approach to underwriting, claims, and risk management in 2012 http://ow.ly/87ZXG

#5 – Health care reform you can expect in 2012 via @Bankrate – The piece looks at what patients, doctors, and insurers should expect from the pieces of the affordable care act going into law in 2012. http://bit.ly/zuUE7U

#6 – Insurance Veterans’ Forecasts for 2012 via @ijournal – The piece discusses the future of the industry in the coming year with nine different industry leaders to get a better grasp on what to expect. http://bit.ly/yjGcS0

#7 – 3 Key Challenges Facing Agents in 2012 via @ijournal - In this podcast with Bob Rusbuldt, CEO of Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, Bob articulates what he believes are the three biggest challenges facing independent agents and brokers in 2012. http://bit.ly/z6gNSb

3 Tips for Effective Text Messaging in Higher Ed Enrollment

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

December 7, 2020 — Recent Noel Levitz research found a growing number of students are beginning their school search via their mobile device and express a desire to be reached about enrollment and admissions via text messaging. The willingness to engage via text message only increases once the student has applied and deposited, according to a 2011 Bob Johnson Consulting study which found the following among high interest students (1) inquiries opting for text updates grew 35.8% between 2010 and 2011 and (2) deposits opting for text updates grew 43.1% between 2010 and 2011

These findings point to the importance of effective text messaging in the recruitment and enrollment process. To learn more about how early adaptors are using text messaging, we posted this question to a few higher education message boards: “Do you use text messaging in the enrollment process, if so how, and are prospective students receptive?” The post generated a lively discussion, below are a few of the key takeaways.

  • Establish relationship first: A student said “A less intrusive way to make this campaign effective is to only send warm texts and not cold texts. What do I mean? Establishing a relationship with a student first and let them choose the method of communication they are comfortable with.” Another LinkedIn group member noted “students are very receptive [to text messages], however, I only use this option when I have already talked to a student on the phone”
  • Let prospects opt in: One LinkedIn group member commented: “If you do like to text your prospects, ensure they like communicating that way and are using mobile devices. I have used text messaging in the enrollment process, retention efforts, to provide encouragement, and even job leads. The students are delighted…plus is saves their minutes.” Another commenter mirrored this sentiment: “I use text messaging and Facebook to communicate with our students. It seems the Y generation is more receptive to communicating via text and/or social media… My goal is to tear down barriers, raise their comfort level, and have them physically meet with me.”
  • Thoughtfully integrate: One student stressed “My android phone already receives ads that come straight to my phone … As a student, my preference would be to NOT get a barrage of text messages to my phone, but every once in a while a good reminder ‘in my opinion’ wouldn’t hurt.” Leads360’s SMS feature does just that – sending reminders at key points in the enrollment process. Example text messages might include: “looking forward to seeing you at 3 PM for the campus tour”, “I see it’s been a week since you got the application, reply if you have any questions.” We know prospects only want to get texts at the right times.
  • It is clear SMS has potential to change the way post-secondary schools approach prospects. Leads360 automated text messaging is designed to send automated texts during the enrollment phase, nurturing prospects without any specific effort from the admission counselor or enrollment manager. To learn more click here.

    Text Messaging for Sales Success

    Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

    Are your sales tactics dated? A barrage of repeated call attempts and e-mails may feel like the way to go in sales, but if they annoy or overwhelm the consumer they’re ultimately counterproductive. To maximize ROI, it is important to mold sales efforts to today’s savvy on-the-go consumers.

    And if you need convincing on consumer behavior, take a look at these statistics:
    The United States has more than 300 million wireless subscribers and a recent study by Pew Internet showed that at least half of Americans ages 18 to 29 send at least 40 text messages a day and half of those ages 30 to 49 send at least 10 per day. That exceeds the number of calls they’re making by factors of eight and two respectively.

    This doesn’t mean throw out all the tried and true best practices. What it does mean, is looking for a good mix of old and new sales tactics that will ensure a positive initial brand experience, and give you a leg up on the competition.

    By adding automated text messaging into the sales funnel, a savvy sales manager can open up a range of options for reaching the consumer. Here are a few tips for using text messaging for sales success:

  • Let prospective customers guide your practices: give your customers the option to receive text messages with appointment and deadline reminders.
  • Send friendly reminders: text messaging can be a nice alternative to phone or e-mail to provide a quick reminder of an application deadline, appointment, etc. Triocci University of Beauty Culture found that using texts in their recruitment was an effective way to remind prospective students of important deadlines and appointments.
  • Stay in touch with a busy customer that wants to respond on their time: a mortgage broker, for example, could use text messaging to communicate with a client who is often in meetings but wants updates and red flag notifications to keep the process moving forward and ensure he can lock in the quoted interest rate.
  • Appeal to the younger consumer: texting could allow younger potential consumers to absorb and respond to marketing information in a fashion they’re most comfortable with. You might consider running a promotion or contest via text messaging.
  • The new automated text messaging service offered by Leads360 are tailored to send texts with a timing and frequency balanced towards giving potential customers important, actionable information in a convenient, immediate package that ensures regulatory compliance. More importantly, the prospect’s replies go directly to the email box sales rep, eliminating the need to hand out cell phones to the sales force.

    We’d like to hear from you. How do you plan to use text messaging to improve the consumer experience?

    Favorite “Thankful” blog posts

    Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

    On the eve of Thanksgiving there are several blogs popping up urging us to put our worries asside and consider for a moment what we have to be thankful for. In this vein, a few of our favorites from @MarketingProfs, @HSHassociates, @B2Community and @college4adults.

    #1 from @MarketingProfs – a heart-warming blog post that includes comments from 45 of Ann Handley’s friends; the post reminds us in the marketing and sales profession that our jobs are about so much more than strategy, planning, blogging, social media, but also about building relationships! Thank you Ann and friends for this reminder! http://bit.ly/w1z9rl

    #2 from @HSHassociates –highlights five things to be thankful for despite another tough year for the housing market and the economy, including low mortgage rates and HARP 2.0. Lots for our customers in the mortgage industry to be thankful for. http://bit.ly/v9LYhc

    #3 from @B2Community – highlights five reasons to be thankful for your online community, including competitive advantage, lead nurturing opportunities, and more. It is a good reminder of the power of social in the sales 2.0 world we live in. http://bit.ly/uAKOr3

    #4 from @college4adults – “Are you a thankful learner?” reminds us to take a moment and reflect on who has helped each of us get to where we are today. http://bit.ly/sFDUZS

    Finally, we want to say thank you to our community — customers, partners, and shareholders — for a great year of innovation and success; you push us every day to make our software better and more competitive — for that we are greatful!

    For-Profit Educators - Innovators or Villains?

    Thursday, November 17th, 2011

    By Nick Hedges, President & CEO of Leads360

    The blogosphere loves to demonize big institutions, and few are cast more often as the villain than those in the for-profit higher education sector. Most of the hullaballoo revolves around admissions standards and practices, or the lack thereof. In a nutshell, the argument has been that for-profit educators have aggressively coerced unwitting, would-be students to sign up for studies that they cannot afford. Those students end up deeply indebted (usually to the government/taxpayer) and yet not more employable.

    This populist view greatly simplifies and misrepresents what for-profit educators actually accomplish, for a host of well-documented reasons. If someone suggested a low-achieving child should be denied a high-school education because “it’s a waste of taxpayer’s money,” they would, fairly, be considered a lunatic (or worse), and yet saying the same thing about adults has gained popular support. America is the land of hope and opportunity, not pessimism and entrenched circumstance.

    The objective of this article, however, is not to debate the for-profit education critics’ arguments, but to reflect upon reactions witnessed by many of the largest for-profit higher education companies to this scrutiny. It sits in stark contrast to the response of many large financial institutions to similar levels of criticism. The response says much about the state of innovation in the for-profit education sector.

    This point began to germinate after reading an interview with a favorite business school professor of mine, Clay Christensen. He had this to say about the innovative approach of the University of Phoenix to teaching:

    “University of Phoenix is spending about $200 million every year on making their teaching better… Do you know how much money Harvard spends every year to make its teaching better? Zero. The reason is that Harvard defines research as creating new knowledge, while The University of Phoenix defines it as finding new ways to provide knowledge. It blows the socks off of us in their ability to teach so well.”

    The idea stuck because it mirrors the innovation we see among bigger for-profit educators when it comes to admissions and enrollment. As the CEO of one of the fastest growing technology companies in the education space, I am lucky to get a close up look at how these companies innovate, with three of the top seven for-profit educators utilizing our enrollment management platform. Our technology brings a new way of approaching enrollments that ensures conversations the institution has with each prospect exactly reflects the need and interest level of that prospect. This tool increases engagement yet eschews what I call “persistence warfare” i.e. making hundreds of calls and inundating prospects with email just for filling in a form on a website.

    What is remarkable here is not that the big educators realized those tactics were out-dated but that they were able to embrace a technology like Leads360 so quickly. What took other verticals several years to catch on to; the for-profit education sector is embracing in a very short period of time indeed. Even more impressive is how these educators have adopted our platform. Without a doubt, for-profit schools have configured our software far more than any of the other 50 or so industries that use our product, and have pushed my product team for more ingenious features than Leads360 has ever previously produced. In many ways, entering the for-profit education vertical has breathed new life into a company that was already innovating at a fast pace.

    Of course exceptions exist, many schools are fighting the “persistence war” and others neglect their prospective students by having chaotic systems and processes. But this is true of any industry. What is remarkable is that the for-profit education sectors largest companies are the most innovative, which is quite the opposite in the majority of sectors. Well-capitalized companies that are truly innovative, more often than not, significantly change the world we live in for the better. It’s a trend we see in the technology sector among companies like Apple, Amazon and Google and a trend that is clearly emerging in the for-profit education space.

    Time will tell, but if my theory is correct, yesterday’s villains will become tomorrow’s saviors. That is quite fortunate - education in general needs saving quite badly.

    Top 3 Tips for Improving Enrollment Processes

    Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

    Leads360 released a study today evaluating the enrollment processes at the top private sector higher-education schools in the US. Unfortunately, many schools had a hard time earning a passing grade, you can download the full report here.

    We thought we’d provide some practical advice on Coffee for Closers, providing a few tips for admissions departments at for-profit schools to improve their approach to recruiting high quality students.

    Tip #1 – Don’t Underestimate the Power of an Email: Many prospective students do their research online, and make their first inquiry to a school by filling out and submitting an inquiry form. A simple way to instill candidate confidence in the professionalism of the school and provide additional information relevant to that particular candidate’s interest is through email. Remember to use each email touch-point effectively, with the optimal number of e-mails being two to four according to research.
    Tip #2 – Be the First to Follow-up via Phone: Leads360 research has also demonstrated attempting to respond to an inquiry within one minute of its receipt increases the chances of enrolling the prospect by 391%. This dramatic increase is due to the fact that prospective students are most likely to engage with a school right after making their initial inquiry. Schools can also increase their success by not only being the first school to contact the student but also matching the candidate to the ideal admissions personnel through “skill-based routing.”
    Tip #3 – Calling too much or too Infrequently can be Detrimental: Just as important as the ideal number of calls – six per previous research – is properly timing contact attempts. Calling three times during the first day, once on day three, again on day four, and a sixth and final time on day 11 or 12, is the optimal call attempt strategy according to research on building the optimal inquiry response strategy.

    Is Buying Respect a Bad Thing?

    Sunday, March 7th, 2010

    There is a great article in Business Week from March 15, 2021 about how for-profit education companies like ITT and Corinthian Colleges are buying small schools to acquire regional and national accreditation. The article takes a pretty aggressive tack on the damaging effects these corporate behemoths are having on the education system, not to mention the seizing of government financial aid dollars.

    There may be another way, albeit perhaps too optimistic, to look at this. This country was founded on capitalism. If not for the ambitious entrepreneurs and companies like GE, Apple, and Walmart, drive to make money, we might not even have the economy we do have. Of course there are whole books dedicated to that debate, but maybe the for-profit education revolution isn’t such a bad thing. Just because your school is a non-profit doesn’t mean that you run it efficiently, nor does it mean that you provide a quality education. I’d put my money on UOP from a business operations standpoint before UCLA any day. That said, I think the bigger question is about education quality. Can a for-profit school that does 90% of its classes online really make a student smarter?

    One thing I’ve always believed is that the student is more important than the school - meaning that a student that wants to learn and applies himself will get a better education at a seemingly lower rate school than another student who didn’t do the work but attended a prestigious school.

    That aside, for any business to have longevity, it must have a good product and something people want. Education is no different. The for-profit educators that invest in the quality of their product (teachers and curriculum) will be the ones that last. It would seem to me that the most successful educational institutions in this country will be those that blend good operations and revenue focus with quality product; companies like ITT and University of Phoenix have definitely got the former done, let’s see what they can do on the latter.

    Preparation Is Key In The Booming For-Profit EDU Industry

    Monday, January 11th, 2010

    Recently, LeadCritic posted an article regarding the enormous growth in the For Profit EDU sector, and how although business is good, forward thought and preparation is going to be very important. Like LeadCritic mentioned, with access to internet ever increasing coupled with the fact that the work force is actively looking to get ahead and stand out, growth is moving as fast as a freight train.

    From our vantage point at Leads360, we have watched the industries we serve experience the same lifecycle again and again. We know all too well how the Mortgage industry was effected and especially know how quickly things can go from good to bad, and then to worse. Over-saturation is a common fear in growing industries, and smart companies know that even when potential business is booming, they need to prepare to weather the times when it isn’t. Companies should embrace the bountiful period, but never take anything for granted.  The point of this warning is not to scare anyone, but to bring about a call to action. This cyclical nature can be looked at as good thing, de cluttering said space, and allowing for the survival of the fittest.  The separation of the “men from the boys” can allow companies who have prepared and are following best practices to establish themselves as industry players, and can create an environment for them to continue to grow and flourish far down the road. The keys for this preparation are fairly obvious. Make sure your company is not fooled by the tremendous growth by letting standards slide. Be sure to contact leads quickly and concisely, don’t allow for precious leads to be stranded by the wayside, and utilize current technology to stay ahead of the curve. Although you may find some things unnecessary at the moment, teaching your sales force how to embrace new technology before the storm, allows for an easy transition when your company needs it most. Take heed, but enjoy the ever expanding market.

    Proper Enrollment Management for Effective Education Marketing

    Friday, December 11th, 2009

    Just as mortgage brokers generate loan modification leads and search engine optimization companies generate marketing leads, education institutes and universities have to generate enrollment leads. Every year schools and universities spend millions of dollars promoting various programs offered throughout the year. The majority of those dollars are spent on lead enrollment forms (students that are interested in a particular program filling out a questionnaire or information request form).

    Universities generating leads for brochure mailings or for education enrollment specialists could greatly benefit from having an efficient software that can assist in enrollment marketing and management goals. A lead software can help convert more leads, and in turn increasing the possibility of filling up classes.

    Here are some very interesting tasks a proper enrollment management software can do for your school.

    •    Sort through leads based on programs selected
    •    Assign leads to different representatives
    •    Recognize geographic location of your lead
    •    Track origination of your leads
    •    Create easy forms for potential students to fill
    •    Distribute and prioritize leads based on form entries
    •    Export/download leads in various formats
    •    Automatically reply to potential students
    •    Track and analyze leads entries
    •    Capture the student lead while they are still interested
    •    Identify fake leads and highly valuable leads
    •    Receive instant emails as soon as lead is generated
    •    Sort, filter and route leads based on demographics
    •    Update you on the status of each and every lead

    To top it off, you can do all this automatically within 1 software interface provided by Leads360. Try out our enrollment management software for free here.