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Episode #36
Filling Seats Podcast | September 5, 2023

Growing online enrollment by focusing on student journeys

In this episode:

You’ll hear from Sarah McMaster who is the Executive Director of Marketing and Enrollment Management at Champlain College Online.

You'll hear:

  • Similarities and differences in enrollment marketing strategy for online vs. on-campus programs
  • How they’re capturing prospect email addresses by providing value
  • Areas of improvement and recommendations for enrollment teams
  • Sarah’s take on AI, ChatGPT, marketing ethics, and data privacy

Sarah McMaster

Executive Director of Marketing and Enrollment Management



Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Host: You're listening to Filling Seats: The State of Enrollment Marketing in Higher Ed, hosted by StudentBridge. In this podcast, you'll learn what's working to grow, shape, and sustain enrollment at colleges and universities directly from fellow enrollment marketers, thought leaders, and ed tech innovators.

[00:00:23] Host: Listen in for proven strategies to fill seats this cycle and beyond.

[00:00:33] Host: Welcome to episode 36 of filling seats. In this episode, you'll hear from Sarah McMaster, who was the executive director of marketing and enrollment management. At Champlain college online.

[00:00:45] Host: You'll hear similarities and differences and enrollment marketing strategy for online versus on-campus programs. How they're capturing prospective student email addresses by providing value. Areas of improvement and recommendations for enrollment teams. And last Sara's take on AI chat, GPT, marketing, ethics, and data privacy. Let's meet sarah

[00:01:09] Sarah McMaster: I have been in marketing for almost two decades, and specifically in higher ed, for 13 years and counting, so the majority of my career in higher ed. my educational and research background, focused on consumer behavior, so I've always been interested in why people do the things they do in a,commercial way.

[00:01:33] Sarah McMaster: so that was something I focused on in my research many years ago, when I was a grad student,I'm physically in Massachusetts, so I've worked at a couple public institutions here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

[00:01:44] Sarah McMaster: that's where I got started in higher ed, and since then I've branched out. I've worked at a large online, private university, and now I'm at, a small private, college in beautiful Burlington, Vermont, Champlain College. for me, it's all about the mission. I fell into higher ed.

[00:02:02] Sarah McMaster: and once I was in, I knew that this was the place I wanted to be and I've been here ever since. I've had a lot of experience on the marketing side, marketing director, that kind of thing. So working on enrollment campaigns. I've also held, a role where I was more supporting current students in their retention and kind of student success.

[00:02:21] Sarah McMaster: So that was really an exciting kind of shift of gears. but my wheelhouse is definitely enrollment marketing. And so now. at Champlain College, I oversee both, marketing and enrollment and admissions.

[00:02:32] Host: Tell me a little bit more about your current role and how you would describe your institution.

[00:02:38] Sarah McMaster: So Champlain College, is located in Vermont. but I am a remote employee, so I'm here in Massachusetts. Champlain College has a long history. It was founded in 1878. And is,well known for being military friendly, for having,nationally ranked programs. And something interesting about Champlain is that they've really embraced the online space.

[00:03:00] Sarah McMaster: So we have a robust, traditional campus experience. And we also have an entire school dedicated to 100% online programs. And that's where I reside. organizationally. So I oversee just the online, program marketing and enrollment. and interestingly enough, Champlain was really early to the game.

[00:03:21] Sarah McMaster: We've had online offerings for nearly 30 years, which if you do the math is really impressive. so that's a fact I really love about Champlain. The online school, Champlain College Online, we have about 80 plus, degrees and certificates. We tend to focus on, business, tech, really, strong cyber security offerings, and we also have healthcare, so we stick to those areas.

[00:03:46] Sarah McMaster: We're really nimble and focused on what we call the best interest of our students. So that's our guiding,lens through which we make all of our decisions and act as a school within the college. for example, like many other online, universities and colleges, we're very focused on what the students want.

[00:04:03] Sarah McMaster: So we have, 6 different, terms. students can start, when it makes sense for them. and like I mentioned, I oversee just our online admissions and marketing. so my official title is Executive Director of Marketing and Enrollment Management for Champlain College Online.

[00:04:19] Host: how many students do you all have in person and then online ?

[00:04:22] Sarah McMaster: Across the entire college, we fluctuate anywhere in the 3 to 4, 000, student range, and we're, we break kind of 50 50. So about half are in that traditional kind of on campus, on ground experience, and then we have the other half who are doing 100% online. many of our students are located here in New England, in the New England states, but we have students across the nation.

[00:04:45] Host: If I were to go to a college fair and ask, any rep at a table, what makes your school unique? I'm going to assume that I would hear a number of things along the lines of architecture, location, the campus, the place, the facility. And so in marketing an online program, did you struggle in transitioning from, this brick and mortar experience to something so much more intangible and...

[00:05:16] Sarah McMaster: How do you find that you can differentiate your school in an online space? At an individual level, making that transition from an on ground role to the online school role is definitely a learning curve. So I found myself thinking in semesters and, the physical plant and things like that, which is true. If you went up to a Champlain College recruitment booth, you would hear those things.

[00:05:40] Sarah McMaster: It is a gorgeous campus. we do have amazing programs for our traditional students. But the thing that really sets us apart in the online space is our deep commitment to transferability. And what I mean by that is transferring in. So we know our students are coming with degrees that they haven't finished elsewhere or that life got in the way and they had to hit pause on their education.

[00:06:03] Sarah McMaster: That's very typical for our students. And so we're hyper focused on recognizing past educational experiences, as well as other certifications. So we're looking at,how can we be a school that gives the most transfer credit that gives the most value to what our students have already accomplished.

[00:06:23] Sarah McMaster: So that's something that really sets us apart and we're not standing on our laurels. We're really always. Looking for new opportunities to advance. Can we take, police academy credits? Can we take a sort of a professional certification? So we're constantly looking at how do we grow our transfer credit repository and make sure that our students can get the most, not only the most bang for their buck because they're Able to bring their past education and their credits with them.

[00:06:50] Sarah McMaster: But what's most important to them is time and money and, making sure that they can balance. And so that's really something we want to stand apart.

[00:06:57] Host: How are you finding these students? Okay.

[00:06:59] Sarah McMaster: We find our students in. Typical ways we do a lot of digital marketing, we're definitely , looking at our ,search queries, very typical stuff. So we're not really coloring outside the lines in terms of our marketing approach today.

[00:07:11] Sarah McMaster: but we're still in the midst of a shift in our overall strategy for marketing and for enrollment.

[00:07:17] Sarah McMaster: everything is on the table right now, but as it stands today, we're doing,typical, Facebook, Instagram, search ads. We're also finding a lot of,value in,content marketing. We find that a lot of our, prospects come to our website through our blog posts.

[00:07:33] Sarah McMaster: we get great value there. And not only do we get great value, but our students get. To be informed about not only programs, but also,tangential topics like paying for college, financial literacy,leadership, all kinds of other things that are important to our students. So we find great success with content marketing and specifically our blog, something that's kind of

[00:07:53] Sarah McMaster: on the table right now that we're taking a look at our webinars, we had previously been doing webinars through an enrollment lens. So prospects would be in the enrollment funnel with us halfway through the process.

[00:08:06] Sarah McMaster: And we would offer, webinars , about their program and we're looking at that and saying, is that the best use of this? This tool is, webinars. and I think we're about to maybe revamp that strategy and look a little bit more at.

[00:08:19] Sarah McMaster: Not so much tied to enrollment, but really lead gen and more of a marketing tool as opposed to enrollment tool. But again, still looking for how is that adding value from the student experience, from the student perspective, if they want to know about topic X, Y, Z, do we know that? And then are we offering something that gives them the value that they're looking for, even if they're shopping around and end up.

[00:08:41] Sarah McMaster: Ultimately, at another school, we still want to be, part of that decision making process and make sure that they're informed.

[00:08:46] Host: Is it fair to say that you're capturing prospects and inquiries that are not necessarily actively seeking a degree or an education at that time, as opposed to, the traditional four year institution freshmen, they're for sure shopping between you and, eight other institutions.

[00:09:09] Host: Okay.

[00:09:09] Sarah McMaster: I think you've hit on kind of a, like a myth buster, yes, if you are a rising senior or a graduating senior in high school, the path in front of you, if you're considering college is pretty clear, right? We all know that path for an online student.

[00:09:26] Sarah McMaster: It could be the same. we do get people that are coming right out of high school and are, bringing us their high school transcripts, but more often than not, our students are mid career, they're balancing families and a very full life. they have a lot of other things on their plate. but that's not to say.

[00:09:44] Sarah McMaster: That they are more or less interested in either starting their education or most often finishing their education. but, A high school senior may be looking at many institutions, up to 10 sometimes, whereas for an online student, working adult typically, they're probably going to be looking at one, two, or three schools.

[00:10:05] Sarah McMaster: They're going to have been doing a lot of research, kind of Hit or miss, little pocket of time, a little bit of motivation and energy. Maybe it's the start of the new year. Maybe something has just changed in their life that kicks off that motivation. They'll have kind of a flurry of activity of doing some research and then go silent again and then have a flurry of activity and then go silent again until that right moment hits.

[00:10:32] Sarah McMaster: so it is different, but it doesn't necessarily have to be different. So it's really interesting to juxtaposition the typical traditional student versus a typical online student, which I think as we're moving, Past COVID, which really muddied the waters, I think that definition or that ability to say there's one kind of student over here and one kind of student over there is getting more and more fluid, where we're seeing students that don't really fit

[00:10:58] Sarah McMaster: either model. some students are very comfortable with online delivery and some students are not. And so there's a lot of factors that go into our students decision making. not the least is how long is it going to take me to finish this degree? How much, money is it going to cost me? How many transfer credits do I have?

[00:11:15] Sarah McMaster: Do I know how to get my transcripts? do I like learning online? Do I have experience learning online? If you're not coming right out of high school, But you're a working professional, you probably have experience with Zoom, but that's not quite the same thing as doing an entire degree or certificate online.

[00:11:31] Sarah McMaster: We do have a lot of people that come just to complete their degree. They've got, a lot of credits and they just need to get over the finish line. And that's another strength that we have. We have programs that are specifically designed for that kind of student.

[00:11:45] Host: So what are your current enrollment goals?

[00:11:48] Sarah McMaster: Our enrollment goals can be broken down into three main categories. One is definitely growth. We're in a growth model. We're looking to double our enrollment in the next 5 to 7 years. and Champlain is smart. We're proactive. We know that we need. Need to be competitive in this space and we are allocating our resources appropriately to do that.

[00:12:08] Sarah McMaster: So we're not just talking the talk. We're walking the walk. So I'm very excited about that. institutional priority. another priority from an enrollment standpoint is identifying and removing friction. So that's something again from that student perspective. How easy is it to get from, okay, I'm going to hit that apply button to registering and starting at classes.

[00:12:32] Sarah McMaster: It could be as little as three weeks for that entire, process to play out. It could be longer, we really want to make sure that every piece of that process is as smooth. And friction free as possible. So We're looking at,how are students getting their transcripts?

[00:12:48] Sarah McMaster: we're shifting from students have to provide their transcripts to you just tell us where you went and we'll get them for you. How does a student defer if they were ready to go and then something happened and they need to start the next term,

[00:13:00] Sarah McMaster: how many steps are in that process from the student standpoint? and financial aid packaging versus their transfer credit evaluation. Are those things happening at the same time? does one happen before or after, obviously if you've got lots of transfer credits coming in, your financial aid package will look really different, so we're Putting all of those things on the table to make sure that is as friction free as it can possibly be. We don't want any roadblocks for a student who says today's the day I'm ready. and the flip side of that is smoothing and expanding the experience again from that student perspective.

[00:13:36] Sarah McMaster: What kind of communications are they getting? Are we explaining things, at the right moment? Because there's so much in an enrollment process so much jargon. We try to cut all of that out and give that information as it's needed, step by step. And last for our enrollment goals is we are, I would say aggressively, offering new programs. So we're really looking at what are students needing for their education? What are the credentials that they need? for their career advancement. ,we want to offer in demand programs that attract best fit students and for us, best fit students are typically, needing work life balance, they value their time and the outcomes of their education and they expect support and they're gonna get support at Champlain.

[00:14:19] Sarah McMaster: So we're really looking to, Research and vet the best program offerings and be able to put those together, in an accelerated fashion to really stay lockstep with what the market is demanding.

[00:14:31] Host: What marketing channels do y'all rely on most to. Get those students into the funnel.

[00:14:38] Sarah McMaster: We're definitely really heavy on digital ads in search. We spend a majority of our budget there, . Another thing that makes us not unique, but definitely keeps us standing out from the crowd, is our really strong workforce partnership.

[00:14:51] Sarah McMaster: So we have a program called True Ed, and basically it's for employees of different companies that have. partnership agreements with us. So if you work for AT& T, if you work for the federal government, et cetera, you have a preferred tuition rate that really helps, not only people advance in their careers where they're already working, but is great for, their employers as well, because they get to upscale their employees.

[00:15:15] Sarah McMaster: So that's a great way that we actually bring in a lot of our students is through these strategic partnerships. We have, pretty robust, content marketing. We bring in a lot of web traffic through our search and of course through our SEO work. email marketing is, also effective.

[00:15:32] Sarah McMaster: Not so much at the top of the funnel, but more in the enrollment space when students are already, engaged with us to some extent. And then we really, leverage our email communications again to make sure that we're giving just that next digestible bit of information.

[00:15:46] Sarah McMaster: and then the webinars, like I mentioned , that's , something that we found success with and we want to continue. but we also don't want to,get behind or get stagnant.

[00:15:54] Sarah McMaster: We want to always be checking on, is this still the best way to use this tool?

[00:15:59] Host: you know, outside of higher ed, it's very common. you're researching, a partner and you go to their website and it's, Hey, give me your email address and you'll get this, resource, this video, this webinar, but within higher ed in the, student search process, that's not really that common.

[00:16:19] Host: What you see more often is, Hey, give me your email just to give me your email or sign up for a campus tour or. apply. There really aren't those smaller resources true, lead generation, like you mentioned earlier. And so I haven't heard many schools talk about webinars before.

[00:16:39] Host: Are you utilizing any other types of gated content? In order to capture student email addresses prior to applying and what are some of those things that you're doing

[00:16:52] Sarah McMaster: , yes, we do have other lead generation, mechanisms like webinars.

[00:16:57] Sarah McMaster: We also do, program book downloads. So we're getting an email address and we're. Getting to continue that conversation with somebody that's stepped out of the crowd and said, Champlain might be the place for me. and what the prospect is getting is something of value to them.

[00:17:11] Sarah McMaster: So we have program booklets about , programs. we also have booklets about paying for college and other topics like that. So again, we're looking to add value or provide value and have it be a win win. So We've found success with that as well. it helps us get qualified leads to communicate with and go through that process, but we don't want to just be like, give me your email just because we want it.

[00:17:33] Sarah McMaster: , that might work for a retail brand or something like that, but for higher ed, it's a totally different cycle, right?

[00:17:39] Sarah McMaster: It's a much bigger, Purchase. If I can use that word, it's not like a pair of sneakers. And so we're much more like health care or finance or insurance in terms of what does that life cycle look like? And so it's really important that we're providing that value, and treating our prospects and our students with respect.

[00:18:00] Sarah McMaster: They're very savvy consumers. they know that their information is valuable, and we want to make sure we're reflecting that back to them.

[00:18:06] Host: what are some of the biggest differences that you have seen between, marketing and on campus and an online school?

[00:18:15] Sarah McMaster: The thing that stuck out the most for me is the lack of print materials, which is something that in my past institutions where I was in a traditional on campus institution, I loved doing like the view books and those kinds of things.

[00:18:30] Sarah McMaster: So that was definitely a change for me to leave some of those things behind, but the upside is that I can spend my budget in this digital realm and the ability to be so focused on digital channels and have so much of my budget allocated to digital channels puts me up a level.

[00:18:50] Sarah McMaster: you have to be tech savvy to really understand what's going on with digital marketing. and so that's an ongoing challenge that I really enjoy.

[00:18:57] Host: And do y'all utilize a vendor to assist you with digital ads or is that something that y'all manage in house? Okay.

[00:19:04] Sarah McMaster: we have a strategic partner that does help us not only with our digital marketing, our SEO,, market research, things of that nature. there's kind of two camps. You can do everything in house. You can have a vendor partner relationships and, From institution to institution, it kind of changes which camp you're in.

[00:19:21] Sarah McMaster: Historically, I have found myself in the in house camp. but I am learning to love the benefits of the, strategic partner camp as well. There's a lot of benefits to, what are your other, partners and clients telling you that we get to learn from? so I'm really loving that.

[00:19:37] Host: . What do you think are some top pain points that enrollment teams as a whole are facing right now?

[00:19:43] Sarah McMaster: I think there's a lot, but I will give you my top four pain points number one, staffing. So burnout, turnover, it's emotionally taxing to hear what students are struggling with when they're trying to get through this process. and so that has its own challenges because you lose. historical knowledge. you lose continuity of service.

[00:20:05] Sarah McMaster: You can have technical debt, all of these kind of housekeeping issues that can bite you later. you can't avoid some of the turnover, but I think institutions have to plan wisely for. That level of turnover.

[00:20:17] Sarah McMaster: another one is the changing, public perceptions and discourse around the value of higher ed.

[00:20:24] Sarah McMaster: Our frontline folks who talk to students every day have to navigate that in real time with students who are saying, why would I pay this amount or what does this piece of paper really mean? What is it going to get me? And those are not questions that our enrollment folks had to answer as, as recently as 10 years ago.

[00:20:42] Sarah McMaster: That's really changed. And so that kind of rolls up into issue number one of it's a taxing role, or . set of roles to be in. another challenge, is what I call like the enrollment tech stack. So you have all of these systems, all of these software as service, all of these different partners.

[00:21:00] Sarah McMaster: Do you have the right systems? Number one, cause there's so many well I've got. this email marketing platform. I've got this, app overlay that can also email students. Do I need both? so do you have the right systems? And then are they set up the right way? So super powerful technology.

[00:21:19] Sarah McMaster: if you're a small institution. you get the big win. Yes, I get to onboard this product, but then what happens? do you have that long term plan for not only getting up to speed, getting it set up correctly? Do you have the right kind of staff to administer that platform?

[00:21:34] Sarah McMaster: And I think that's a bind that a lot of smaller institutions or institutions with limited resources can get themselves into. The enrollment team or the marketing team has this big win. They finally get the tool, like the pie in the sky tool. That's going to fix everything. And then it doesn't right. and it's not that it can't, it's that they didn't have the long enough on ramp or they didn't have the right consultant or they didn't have the right person to run the project in house.

[00:22:00] Sarah McMaster: And those are easily avoidable, but very common things that happen that really can,Slow you down. and then the last challenge or pain point,that I would, share is What happens after the enrollment process? I'm always really keen on handoffs. from marketing to enrollment, what does that handoff feel like for the student? Is it seamless? Do they even know it's happening?

[00:22:25] Sarah McMaster: They shouldn't, right? It should all be one seamless process for them. And I think the handoff from, like I said, marketing to enrollment or admissions is one, and then the next one is from the enrollment process and into kind of current student land, ? that's when registrar financial aid, student accounts, all these other offices come into play.

[00:22:47] Sarah McMaster: What's happening from a communication standpoint? Does it feel like the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing? Are students hearing something they already heard before? Are they missing an important piece of information because advising thought that admissions covered it and admissions thought that advising covered it.

[00:23:02] Sarah McMaster: And all it takes is clearer internal communications,

[00:23:06] Sarah McMaster: enrollment folks really need to step up and say, Okay. We're the hub. We're gonna, we're gonna be the hub. We're going to try to do like air traffic control on this student experience.

[00:23:16] Sarah McMaster: being able to have experiences in both on campus recruitment and online recruitment, are there any takeaways or recommendations that you would have for those doing traditional on campus recruitment? Um,This would go for either on ground or online, but say more about what you need, and also say more about what those other offices need. Be crystal clear about what it takes to get from where you are today to where you want to be and make sure that you take everybody with you. And that is not an easy thing to do. There's only so many dollars in any given year's budget, but there's a lot of value and a lot of goodwill and a lot of, organizational health to be had when the person with the soapbox or the megaphone says, this is what I need, but I also need my colleagues in this office.

[00:24:10] Sarah McMaster: This is what they need. and when you advocate for others, you lift all ships, right? The rising tide lifts all ships. And that's something that's really guided how I've, tried to think about not only what do I need, but what do my other offices need that support our students either ahead of me or after me in that process.

[00:24:30] Sarah McMaster: I think it's also really important to be clear about expectations. So for example, at Champlain College Online, we've recently made a pretty big switch in terms of our enrollment, strategy. We've changed vendors. we've put all of our processes on the table to say, okay, where can we make improvements?

[00:24:48] Sarah McMaster: And because we did this, So for this big shift, we had to be really clear about how is that going to impact our enrollment cycle, right? don't expect this next cycle coming up to be the same as either the previous year or what our goal was, etc. Because here's what we're doing and here's the long term benefits we're going to gain.

[00:25:08] Sarah McMaster: So sometimes you have to have a short term, Blip in order to get the long term gain. And I want to, empower or at least, suggest to my colleagues that go for the long term gain. As long as you're very clear about those expectations and all the stakeholders know, Hey, this is what we're going to do.

[00:25:27] Sarah McMaster: This is when we're going to get there, this is what it's going to cost. Not only in terms of money, but time, resources, pipeline, things like that. That's really. what serves the institution best.

[00:25:38] Host: Any recommendations for schools struggling to meet their enrollment goals? Okay.

[00:25:42] Sarah McMaster: talk to your colleagues. You can tell I'm a communicator, right? I'm all about talking to people, but I would say share your pain. I know we're competitors, but we're also colleagues. So talk to your network. Tell them really at that tactical level. This is what I'm doing. This is what I'm experiencing. What insights do you have for me?

[00:26:01] Sarah McMaster: And you might be surprised at what some of your colleagues are willing to share. , and in the online space, it's, can be different because we're all competing to some extent for the same students because we're not bound by geography. So on ground, more traditional campuses, if you can extend your network kind of outside of your service area, so for example, when I worked at a community college in Massachusetts, I had a close colleague that I would do that with that was at a community college in Florida because we most certainly were not competing for the same students, but we had the same issues.

[00:26:31] Sarah McMaster: And so we were able to do that for each other. And I would talk to that person and they would say,we tried this and this is what happened. So I would say,Network, talk to your colleagues and you might be surprised who will share their wins and their, their challenges with you

[00:26:45] Host: What do you see for the future of higher ed marketing?

[00:26:47] Sarah McMaster: we need to pay attention to our tactical failures. And I know that sounds kind of funny. But what I mean by that is. We can learn the most by being agile and by getting up and brushing ourselves off when we've tried something new and it hasn't worked. Technology is moving so fast right now.

[00:27:05] Sarah McMaster: everybody wants to talk about AI. Everybody wants to talk about chat, GPT. Everybody wants to talk about academic integrity. But there's a difference between talking about something and trying it. And so I encourage all of us in higher ed to try these things. what can we do with AI?

[00:27:21] Sarah McMaster: How can we prepare our students for the work world with this being the reality, but What can we do with it as an institution? Do we decide it's okay to use AI to write social media posts or do we not? Like how do we use these tools? so I think being agile and being ready to pivot as technology changes, as the political environment changes, as our resources change, that's really key for success long term for higher ed.

[00:27:46] Sarah McMaster: Another thing that I think about a lot back to my background is consumer behavior. Why would a student or a prospect do X versus Y? So sentiment changes. people , they go through different phases in their life. Education is more or less prominent. the value of higher education itself in the public discourse changes.

[00:28:05] Sarah McMaster: So sentiment changes, but the deep down motivations of why people do the things they do, they don't change that much. So as long as we're using tried and true, tactics that fit with consumer behavior models, I think we'll be good. What needs to change is our, what are we offering?

[00:28:22] Sarah McMaster: what programs are we offering? Do we have the right program? Do we have the right experience? Do we have the right delivery modality? In the future it might not even be a hundred percent online it's going to be something like virtual reality or augmented reality or some other hybrid that we don't even think of right now So that's another way that I think higher ed needs to move in the future.

[00:28:42] Sarah McMaster: And then last but not least we need to find a way to know exactly why we lost a student. Do you have a way to talk to stop outs?

[00:28:51] Sarah McMaster: What did they need that we didn't have? Do you have a way to really get meaningful insights from lost leads? What did they need that we didn't have? Was it program? Was it part of the. enrollment experience. So unless you have a really good mechanism to get that feedback, you're missing a huge opportunity.

[00:29:08] Host: Are y'all utilizing, surveying, a quick text message, what are some of the tactics that you're using to get that information from, let's say, an inquiry that doesn't become an applicant?

[00:29:22] Sarah McMaster: Yeah. Right now we're really using that surveying tool. So we do lost lead type surveys where we go out and, work with one of our partners and say, okay, here's all the leads that didn't convert, go ask them what the heck happened. and , we're actually waiting for one of those right now.

[00:29:35] Sarah McMaster: It's, a huge pool of information that we can use to get better and make sure we're answering that question differently for students in the future. I hope that we'll be able to move into even more sophisticated things in the next year or two with more of the two-way texting of, okay, you didn't,enroll texting was your preferred, method of communication and be able to use that to get those tidbits of information back in real time.

[00:29:58] Sarah McMaster: So we're doing those things now, but again, always room for improvement.

[00:30:02] Host: I'm glad that you mentioned AI and chat GPT, , are y'all utilizing that in any way?

[00:30:07] Sarah McMaster: Not yet. It's definitely something that we're looking at, but what we want to do as an institution first is make sure that we have clear guidance for our students. So we're working on that right now. And then we'll look at, okay, what do we want to use it for ourselves as an institution?

[00:30:23] Sarah McMaster: My biggest. passion topic is, digital ethics. And so I want to put in a plug for all my marketing and enrollment colleagues to make sure that you have some mechanism in place to educate not only yourselves and your team, but your institution about digital ethics and marketing ethics.

[00:30:43] Sarah McMaster: Higher ed marketing should not be an ethics free zone. We have so much data that we work with. So I want to, make sure that we are as marketing professionals and enrollment professionals that we're, again, respecting our customers that are very savvy and they know that their , personally identifiable information that they're sharing with us at the inquiry stage and at the applicant stage.

[00:31:05] Sarah McMaster: Is very valuable. So we need to reflect back to them that we understand and we respect that, data collection opt in versus opt out privacy policies for cookies and things like that. There is so much happening in that space right now, across all industries, but for higher ed, , we're not exempt.

[00:31:24] Sarah McMaster: We need to make sure that we are keeping up with all of that. and understanding how it's changing on the global stage, we can look at the EU. We can look at California for guidelines about what are the kind of the high bar for consumer protections when it comes to digital marketing and digital ethics.

[00:31:41] Sarah McMaster: But I always want to bring that to the conversation and make sure that, again, as we talk about things like AI and GPT, there should be a greater role in technology for philosophy, for ethics, for, the humanities and thinking about these things, not only from a technological and a benefits standpoint, but also a longer term lens of we can, but should we.

[00:32:04] Host: , how can someone connect with you if they'd like to do that?

[00:32:06] Sarah McMaster: I would love to invite anybody who has questions to connect with me and my social media platform of choice is LinkedIn. and if you're interested in Champlain College, we also have LinkedIn, so I would invite anybody who's interested to check us out there.

[00:32:20] Sarah McMaster: or to visit our blog, which is online. champlain. edu. Slash blog. we also have Instagram. and I would invite anybody who wants to learn more to check us out there.

[00:32:31] Host: Thank you so much for interviewing with me today. This was great.

[00:32:34] Sarah McMaster: Thank you so much for having me. It was a blast.

[00:32:36] Host: This is the Filling Seats podcast, hosted by StudentBridge, where we help enrollment teams achieve more by fusing authentic storytelling with industry leading technology and personalized digital experiences.

[00:32:52] Host: If you're looking to attract more, amaze more, and achieve more, visit To connect with this episode's guest, check out the show notes. If you enjoyed this episode, leave a rating and review, and don't forget to subscribe! For more information about the podcast or to let us know you'd like to be a guest, visit