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    Gap Year Programs: The Top Marketing Metrics for Fall 2021

    Gap Year Programs: The Top Marketing Metrics for Fall 2021

    Posted by Marie Schwartz


    Gap year programs spanning all niches need to make decisions about the most cost-effective ways to attract new customers. In order to be successful in your gap year program marketing initiatives in the last quarter of 2021, there are a few marketing metrics and KPIs that you should measure and track regularly. The good news is, there’s a science to understanding and predicting marketing channel effectiveness. In this article, we’re discussing each of these marketing metrics and how you can measure them. 

    Track Marketing Metrics Performance

    It’s an old adage, and it may go without saying, but “if you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” Getting on top of marketing effectiveness means taking a moment every day to track how well you're doing. Every day, you should record at least these two things:

    Number of Inquiries vs. Number of Enrolled

    There’s a significant difference between obtaining a lot of inquiries and having only 2% of those inquiries become registrants versus obtaining high-quality inquiries and having 50% of them become registrants. To understand which marketing channels provide you with the most qualified inquiries that are most likely to become registrants, it’s crucial to track your number of inquiries.

    Track leads for your company overall and for each marketing channel. Every new inquiry comes from somewhere – a referral by a past participant, an email campaign, a visitor at a fair. Continuously tracking inquiries from leads and registrants will help you determine which leads are most qualified and likely to become registrants. For example, say that the majority of your past and current participants learned about your program through social media. Based on the data, you can determine that the most qualified leads come from your social media. From here, your sales team can prioritize their efforts to focus on these best-fit leads to gain greater program attendance. 

    Know Your Average Conversion Rate

    After you’ve compiled performance data for a month or so, it’s time to answer the key question in marketing assessment: how many inquiries did it take before you got one new program participant? The inverse of that number is called your average conversion rate (#participants/# inquiries).

    Average conversion rate starts from the basis of an inquiry and tells you how many participants you should expect to derive from any one of them. This number, calculated company-wide, is your baseline metric. It's how you assess your marketing effort overall and the relative effectiveness of the individual channels you use. By determining a set of conversion rates, one for each of your individual marketing channels, you'll see immediately which of them is driving your business forward, and which is holding you back. Take a look at the examples below:

    At the five gap fairs you attended, you received 240 inquiries. Of those, 12 enrolled in your programs. Your conversion rate for fairs is 5% (12 enrolled ÷ 240 inquiries).

    Say your upgraded Featured TeenLife and full page Gap Guide Profile garnered 300 inquiries. Of those, 10 students enrolled. Your conversion rate for TeenLife is 3% (10 enrolled ÷ 300 inquiries). While one could say that the fairs were more successful because they yielded a higher conversion rate, the cost per enrollment may tell a different story.

    Understand Your Marketing Investment

    Your total investment in marketing and promotion is greater than you might think. In addition to the variable costs that are clearly associated with each of your channels (event costs, travel, advertising costs, postage, online directory participation, etc.), there are ongoing fixed costs involved in your marketing effort as well (payroll, technology, contract staff, and other overhead). Fixed costs are ongoing expenses you pay every month to keep the ship running — costs that aren’t associated with any one marketing channel.

    Still, it is essential that you maintain your ability to execute marketing programs. To understand how much each program has truly cost you, you need to allocate a portion of your fixed costs back to each channel you’ve used.

    By determining the percentage of your enrolled participants from each channel, you will know where to allocate your fixed marketing expenses among them. The record-keeping described above should make this easy. Combining each channel’s variable and fixed costs will tell you exactly how much money you’ve been spending on your respective marketing activities.

    Know Your Cost-Per-Inquiry and Cost-Per-Acquisition

    Knowing your conversion rate for each marketing channel allows you to assess relative performance — but it’s only one part of the picture. You must keep in mind that although a channel has a high conversion rate, it may still be too expensive to justify. Or maybe something you’ve been doing on the cheap with negligible costs is worth continuing despite a low conversion rate.

    To make these assessments, you need to determine your cost-per-inquiry (CPI) and cost-per-acquisition (CPA) for each marketing channel. The math is simple if you’ve been keeping good records:

    Cost-per inquiry = Marketing Costs (Variable costs + Allocated Fixed Costs) ÷ Inquiries Received 

    Cost-per acquisition = Marketing Costs (Variable Costs + Allocated Fixed Costs) ÷ Program Participants Acquired 

    Doing this creates a fair standard for comparing channels against one another. If you define “marketing success” as getting someone to enroll in your program, you now know exactly how much you have to spend to achieve success in each channel. It’s a powerful bit of knowledge.

    Set Benchmarks for Marketing Performance and Return

    It’s important that you know what these three key marketing metrics (conversion rate, cost-per-inquiry, cost-per-acquisition) are for your business overall. Those are your benchmarks for marketing channel assessment. It’s not a hard-and-fast rule, but it’s generally good practice to emphasize the channels that are outperforming your benchmarks and to minimize the channels that are underperforming your benchmarks.

    Final Thoughts

    By tracking and monitoring these marketing metrics, you’ll be better able to attract and convert leads into registrants for your gap year programs. How can we be so sure? Throughout the years, the team at TeenLife has learned the best marketing strategies from experts in the field — our program providers! If you have questions about how any of these points apply to your organization’s unique situation, we’d welcome the chance to help you out. Reach out to us and let’s get started!

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    Marie Schwartz

    Marie Schwartz

    Marie Schwartz is the CEO and Founder of TeenLife Media. Marie launched TeenLife in 2007 after moving to Boston with her husband and two middle school sons and discovering that there were no information resources for families with older children. Today, TeenLife's award-winning website lists thousands of summer and gap year programs, schools, college admission resources and volunteer opportunities for teens around the world.