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“I need more leads!”

post-its on deskIf I had a nickel for every time a school representative called me asking for more leads…

Be honest. Have you ever requested the same? When I get those calls, I quickly change the direction of the conversation. After all, increasing lead volume is pretty easy. But it rarely drives desired results.

And desired results is what it’s all about. Whether it’s increasing enrollments or lowering cost of acquisition, a marketing objective needs to be tied to a business goal. Buying more leads is a tactic, but not a business goal. So if you’re thinking you need more leads, before you move forward, ask yourself, “What is it I really need?”

And don’t stop there. Below, I’ve listed additional questions to ask yourself or your team:

Current Efforts

What current efforts do you have in place to achieve your objectives? How are your current efforts performing? What’s working? What isn’t?
List out every marketing activity that you’re currently doing including performance results and then categorize each item as either “helping me meet my objectives” or “not helping me meet my objectives.”


Who is your typical student? Who is your target audience?
If your audience isn’t well defined, you’re likely wasting a lot of money every day. From demographics to psychographics, you need to know as much as you can about your target prospective students so you know where to find them (and where you won’t find them) and can pinpoint your media spend with precision.


Who is your competition? What makes you different?
When prospective students are considering enrollment at your school, which other schools are on their list? And if they don’t choose you, where do they go instead? The more you know about your competition, the better you can craft your message to lift yourself above.

Are there any upcoming business or industry changes that will impact your efforts?
Are you teaching out any programs or adding new ones to your roster? Make sure you stay on top of both macro- and micro-industry changes so you can react accordingly.


What are your internal benchmarks for conversion rates or cost of acquisition? What are your expectations? Do your goals and budget align?
You should be able to pull up key performance indicators (KPIs) such as cost per lead (CPL), cost per enrollment (CPE), cost per start and conversion rates at a moment’s notice to determine whether or not your campaign is in line with expectations. And if everything is in line and you still can’t meet your objectives, there could be something wrong in another part of the funnel like your admissions process or how you nurture your applicants.

Once you have a strong grasp of your current situation, it’s time to dive into analytics. Gather together as much information as you can, including three years of aggregate enrollment data, web analytics, campaign performance data and third-party industry and consumer data from sources like iPEDS and Neustar ElementOne. Analyze the data to better understand your target audience, including where they spend their time and how you can meet them there.

And finally, once you’ve done your due diligence, it’s time to figure out your plans for moving forward. At this point (if it hasn’t happened earlier in the conversation), I typically get channel-specific requests like “we need to get on mobile” or “we need more PPC.” And while either of these may be true statements, unless you develop a cross-channel mindset, you will fail in the long run. An effective media plan creates awareness, engages prospective students and converts them into actual students. Marketing campaigns of today use targeted media and consistent messaging presented throughout a student’s decision process to encourage movement down the enrollment funnel.

It’s a lot of work and can become overwhelming. If you break it down into three steps, though, it’s not that bad:

  1. Understand how you’re doing now
  2. Figure out how you can do better
  3. Develop a plan to achieve success

Most of all, remember you can’t be an expert at everything. Don’t be shy about asking those around you for help.

Many of us have been in your shoes, craving leads but knowing what we need is something more. If you want to chat about your challenges, we're ready to listen. Contact Team DMS here.

About the Author

Digital Media Solutions

Digital Media Solutions, LLC (DMS) is the leading global martech company leveraging innovative, performance-driven brand direct and marketplace solutions to connect consumers and advertisers. DMS deploys a robust database of consumer intelligence and leverages massive proprietary media distribution to provide customer acquisition campaigns that grow businesses. Continuing to experience explosive year-over-year growth, DMS has been continuously recognized on the Inc. 5000 list, securing its sixth consecutive ranking in 2019, and the Entrepreneur magazine 360 list. Earlier this year, DMS announced it is anticipating becoming a public company under a reverse merger deal with Leo Holdings Corp. Named one of America’s “Best Places to Work” by Inc. magazine and awarded the Excellence in Lead Generation Award by the LeadsCouncil, DMS brings together some of the industry’s most knowledgeable people, efficient processes and sophisticated technology across the digital marketing spectrum. For more information about DMS, visit Keep up with DMS news at and connect with us on LinkedIn at

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