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Welding: Employer Needs Impact School Conversion Rates

October 23, 2014 Digital Media Solutions

WeldingAccording to a March 2014 article, the need for individuals with welding experience is as prevalent as ever, despite the changes that have occurred within the U.S. economy over the past 30 years. And trade programs, like welding, have become increasingly popular in recent years based on this increased employer demand.

Sparkroom data from 2012 through 2014 shows an increase in the enrollment rate for welding programs, despite a 2013-2014 decrease in welding inquiry volume, as the chart below shows. This indicates both increased consumer interest in welding and greater marketing efficiency on behalf of trade/career schools.

  • Inquiry volume from all sources increased 69 percent from 2012 to 2013 and is projected to decline 23 percent from 2013 to 2014
  • Conversion rates from all sources increased by more than 50 percent (2.7 percent to 4.06 percent) from 2012 to 2013, and the rates are projected to be up again – by more than 57 percent – from last year to this year

Looking only at pay-per-lead inquiries, we see a different trend – inquiries volume has declined and conversion performance has been mixed during the 2012 to 2014 period, as shown in the chart below.

  • 2014 volume is projected to be 39 percent below 2012 levels
  • Conversion rates increased 151.6 percent from 2012 to 2013
  • Conversely, conversion rates are expected to be a little lower than 1 percent this year – a decrease of 35.76 percent from 2013

Following a path similar to inquiry volume, welding program cost per lead (CPL) prices rose in 35 percent in 2013 and are projected to decline 2 percent this year, as shown in the chart below.

The Sparkroom performance marketing technology database holds data for three welding “degree” types: associate, certificate and diploma. These three categories encompass 75 percent of the welding program matches. The remaining quarter of the matches have no degree type specified. Although degree type is often less important for trade programs than traditional programs that fit within the two- and four-year models, conversion rates vary by these degree types.

As shown in the chart below, certificate programs produce the majority of welding volume and are experiencing significant increases in conversion rates.

  • Certificate program volume nearly doubled from 2012 to 2013, but then decreased in 2014
  • Certificate program conversion rates are climbing steadily with a projected rate topping 7 percent this year
  • Programs with no degree type specified convert at 6 percent on average, also climbing to above a 7 percent conversion rate this year
  • Diploma and Associate programs have lower volume and lower conversion rates, both projected to dip in 2014
  • Across all degree types, welding programs convert very well in comparison to overall industry averages for all programs

Focusing exclusively on PPL inquiries, we noticed lower inquiry volume and conversion rates for all welding degree types. This is not surprising, as we’ve noted in our quarterly reviews that PPL volume and conversion rates are down across the board. 

  • PPL inquiries are also concentrated at the Certificate level – though volume for certificate programs is dropping dramatically with 2014 volume more even across all degree types
  • Overall PPL volume decreased substantially from 2012 to 2014
  • PPL conversion rates are noticeably lower than those of other inquiry sources – averaging 2.06 percent for PPL sources compared to 4.38 percent for all sources
  • Conversion rates for PPL inquiries of all degree types peaked in 2013 and are projected to decrease by a third in 2014

This data on welding reaffirms what we have noted before on this blog: employer demand significantly impacts conversion rates. Schools must follow employment trends, including skill requirements for today and the future. Aligning offered programs with needed skills is desirable. But at a minimum, schools should use this information to inform their expectations of marketing success.

Data source/details: Sparkroom data evaluated for the period of January 2012-July 2014 with 2014 data projected over 12 months based on year-to-date data. More than 98% of the data evaluated within this review has “welding” in the requested program name, with the remainder of the data utilized based on program names that are very closely related. All conversions, application through start, were utilized to make this enrollment-based assessments.

About the Author

Digital Media Solutions

Founded by a team of lifelong athletes, Digital Media Solutions (DMS), the fastest-growing independent digital performance marketing company. The company’s set of proprietary assets and capabilities in the world of performance marketing and marketing technology allow clients to meticulously target and acquire the right customers. DMS relentlessly pursues flawless execution for top brands within highly complex and competitive industries including mortgage, education, insurance, consumer brands, careers and automotive.

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