Adult Student Marketing & Recruitment Success Stories

How institutions are using intent data to optimize outreach and increase enrollment

Published on Jan 31, 2023

Written by Lightcast

Lightcast recently announced a strategic partnership with CollegeAPP to help education providers reach elusive prospective adult students more efficiently than ever. In this article, we’ve assembled five success stories illustrating how institutions and organizations are using intent data to focus marketing efforts, and generate eye-popping ROI. The institutions highlighted here are:

  • Rockland Community College (SUNY)

  • Leavey School of Business (Santa Clara University)

  • Riverside Community College District (CA)

  • Washington Student Achievement Council

  • The SkillUp Coalition

Read on to see their tactics, tips, and results. To learn more about the technology fueling this success, explore CollegeAPP+ or contact us to request a personalized walkthrough.

Case Study 1: Rockland Community College

In an increasingly competitive environment, college and university enrollment teams are being asked to do more with less. But traditional marketing tactics can feel like an uphill battle, characterized by inefficient, high-volume outreach that mostly goes ignored. 

Fortunately, there’s a better way: Using intent data to engage the specific prospects who are most likely to enroll at your institution.

Rockland Community College (RCC) used this approach to fuel an enrollment campaign that had already generated over $1.3M in revenue with $2.9M still in the pipeline as of December 2022.

Brian Sondey (Executive Director of Enrollment Services at RCC) shared the data and tactics behind this campaign in an on-demand webinar. See below for a look at RCC’s results, and watch the webinar to learn more about how it was done.

Case Study 2: Leavey School of Business (Santa Clara University)

Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business partnered with CollegeAPP to identify prospects for in-person and online MBA and five graduate business degrees including: Business Analytics, Financial Analytics, Information Systems, and Executive MBA. The goal was to increase awareness and registrations for in-person and web-based information sessions to support a larger recruitment pipeline with domestic candidates to stem reductions in international applications and enrollments.

Total Database and Media Spend: 

  • $200,400

Top-line Results:

  • 494,235 total reach

  • 106,396 total clicks 

  • 79,972 unique clicks

  • 199 RFI/landing page sign-ups

  •  127 applications

  • 105 enrollments

Per Request for Information: $1,008.54

Per application: $1,580.32 

Per enrollment: $1,911.43* 

*Institution reported that cost-per-enrollment in the previous cycle was ~$11,000

Case Study 3: Riverside Community College District (CA)

Riverside Community College District sent a direct-mail piece to 44,000 households in their service area. These recipients were identified using the following “filters” in the CollegeAPP database:

  • Intent to enroll

  • Previous education attainment

  • English proficiency/Primary language

  • Age / Household income

Once RCCD saw interest in the postcards dropping off, they sent a reminder email to the same group of prospects that had received the postcard:

RCCD saw three main outcomes from the campaign:

1) Greatly increased enrollment (379% increase over previous year)

2) Data about student needs

3) Increased interest in noncredit English as a Second Language (ESL) programming

Response Rate Comparison:

The CollegeAPP targeted mailer, sent to approximately 44,000 homes, received 29% more survey responses in the first two weeks than the general noncredit mailer sent to 305,000 homes. The number of responses from the targeted audience were higher despite there being nearly seven “general audience” mailers for every one CollegeAPP postcard delivered. 

Fall 2022 Enrollment Outcomes:

  • A 379% increase in enrollment from Fall 2021

  • RCCD also ran a successful, but separate campaign for their career and professional noncredit courses, which saw a 213% increase in enrollment over the same period.

Case Study 4: Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC)

The Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC) led an effort to launch the College and Career Compass portal for state residents to find and engage with public colleges and universities.

WSAC and MadCap Marketing launched a three-month campaign using CollegeAPP data based on individuals’ probability of having intent to enroll:

Case Study 5: SkillUp Coalition - Leveraging Partnerships (and data) to Recruit and Upskill Adult Learners

Leveraging CollegeAPP data, SkillUp profiled over 1.5 Million individuals across the U.S. with high propensity to pursue additional education OR change jobs.

Between September 2021 and September 2022, the SkillUp team leveraged the following outreach tactics:

Outreach Channels 

  • Paid Media: Facebook, YouTube and Instagram Look-a-likes

  • Email 

  • SMS Testing (Nevada, Philadelphia)


  • Regional from rural Ohio to densely populated NYC and L.A.

  • Youth (Ages 18-24)

  • Race

Content & Event Marketing:

  • Awareness

  • Product

  • Event-marketing (virtual and on-site events)

  • Focus Group & Advisory Panel Recruitment

Key Learnings:


Using CollegeAPP contact pulls for Social Ads were best utilized as Look-a-Like (LAL) audiences. LAL audiences are significantly cheaper to target and perform 17% better compared to targeting the contact list directly.

Region Variance:

SkillUp found CollegeAPP audiences performed better in smaller regions compared to when the lists were used to target a wider national audience. 


SkillUp found audience access served uses beyond our traditional conversions including:

  • Advisory Panel Outreach 

  • Partner-Value Adds & Business Development

  • Product Research

  • Donor Outreach

Notes: SkillUp found SMS outreach is best performed as a second touch for our audience. However, if awareness is a general goal, even a 2% response rate among 10k recipients is a lot of eyes.

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