SIU Edwardsville

SIUE 

BRAND ASSESSMENT/MESSAGE TESTING

How can we position and communicate the benefits of an up-and-coming public university to boost enrollment from three different geographic recruitment areas?

RESEARCH OBJECTIVES

  • Determine brand perceptions of prospective high school students and guidance counselors in three distinct metro areas where SIUE recruits
  • Identify most persuasive messaging, effective information channels, recruitment activities, influencers and timing for presenting SIUE’s benefits to high school students

KEY INSIGHTS

Important considerations in selecting a college are majors offered, location, a school’s reputation and cost. Insufficient awareness of SIUE’s academic programs, campus life, cost and scholarship opportunities, internships and career placement were barriers to consideration. Sophomore year in high school is optimal for initial outreach.

HOW SIUE USED THE INSIGHTS

Incorporating research insights into communications strategies and tactics contributed to a boost in applications and enrollment the following academic year. SIUE has continued to increase enrollment as higher education in general has seen declines.

WHAT WE DID

Working with Standing Partnership, a reputation management firm, we conducted focus groups with prospective college students and college counselors from three Missouri and Illinois high school recruitment areas to learn who and what would increase their interest in exploring SIUE as an enrollment option.

We identified characteristics (“personas”) of students most likely to consider SIUE, when and how they research college options and who helps them narrow their choices. Their feedback to SIUE’s recruitment communications pieces and advertising (print, outdoor, television and digital) indicated what specific information about academic offerings and life on campus move students to consider SIUE. “Authenticity” in student advertising testimonials is critical.

“The research results helped us better understand what matters to the high school students who are likely to consider SIUE as a college option and the best ways to reach them and market to them.”

Doug McIlhagga
Executive Director, University Marketing Communications, SIUE