Upcoming Webinar for Admissions Professionals • July 9, 2pm ET

Register

Podcast

Modernizing Enrollment Management with Geoff Baird

In this episode, we engage with Geoff Baird, CEO of EnrollML. Geoff brings a unique, commercial perspective to enhancing market share and yield rates in higher education institutions. He stresses the importance of not just attracting prospective students but also deeply understanding and refining the precise elements that influence their decisions to enroll.

Geoff points out the critical need for colleges and universities to address the ‘cracks in their foundation’, advocating for a detailed approach to the enrollment process. He underscores the significance of understanding the subjective aspects of student decision-making and the essential role of admissions counselors in the enrollment landscape.

Moreover, Geoff discusses the impact of integrating advanced technology and data analytics into enrollment strategies. He advocates for a targeted approach to employing AI and machine learning, focusing on solving specific process issues and enhancing engagement with students at vital decision-making points.

This episode offers valuable perspectives for higher education professionals aiming to refine their enrollment strategies and adopt data-driven methods to understand and engage with their prospective students more effectively.

Subscribe to the Higher Ed Marketing Lab

Apple Podcasts

Spotify

Stitcher

Google Podcasts

Transcript

Jarrett Smith:
You are listening to the Higher Ed Marketing Lab. I’m your host, Jarrett Smith.

Welcome to the Higher Ed Marketing Lab, where each episode, we engage with some of the brightest minds in higher education and the broader world of marketing to uncover actionable insights you can use to level up your school’s marketing and enrollment performance.

In this episode, we’ll be talking about modernizing enrollment management. But to discuss this topic, we won’t be bringing in a successful enrollment leader from higher ed. Instead, we’ll be hearing from someone with decades of experience in business, finance, and technology.

Now, understandably, higher ed has avoided the language and mindset of commercial enterprise. That said, in my humble opinion, it is now an inescapable fact that today’s colleges and universities are subject to market forces and that to even have a shot at surviving, schools will need to adopt at least some of the mindset that’s common in the business world. What does that mean in practice? Well, today’s guest will help paint that picture.

My guest today is Jeff Baird, CEO of Enroll ML, a technology firm that uses machine learning to enhance enrollment operations. As the CEO of a tech firm that serves higher ed, Jeff clearly has a favorable view of the role tech can play in recruiting students. But, I think what he has to say is, timely, insightful, and thought-provoking.

We discuss why it’s beneficial for enrollment leaders to view students as consumers; the mathematics of yield and why it deserves special focus; why AI chatbots and writing assistants are interesting but unlikely to move the needle on enrollment; insights gained from an in-depth study of how admissions counselors spend their day; how AI and machine learning tools can be integrated into admissions processes to create real, material impact.

This was a fun conversation, and I hope you get as much out of it as I did.

One last note: My audio in this interview is not great. I tried something new while recording, and it definitely didn’t turn out like I hoped. I hope you’ll forgive me, and I promise to do I’ll better.

So, without further ado, here’s my conversation with Geoff Baird.

Geoff Baird:
Thanks. Wonderful to be here. Glad we could get the chance to talk.

Jarrett Smith:
Yeah. I’m very excited about this conversation, which is going to be all about modernizing enrollment management. There’s a lot to unpack here. Part of what I think is going to make this conversation so interesting is that you did not come from higher ed. You came from a corporate background and I think it’s a super interesting story. So, I’d love to start out by just having you tell us, how in the world did you end up in higher ed ultimately?

Geoff Baird:
Yeah, it’s really interesting. Obviously higher ed is a unique animal, and even though I’ve been in it for just a hair shy of a decade, I’m still generally considered an outsider in higher ed. But I did come into it through somewhat of a unique way, and it really was through the lens of private equity. And there’s been a lot of discussion and writings and debate about the role of private equity in higher education. Setting all of that aside, what it did for me was provide a really, really interesting view in that I was able to not only sit with the financials and the operating models of colleges, but also inside the day-to-day operations.
And so, my entry point into higher equity, sorry, goodness gracious, into higher education. My entry point into higher education was through this lens of the financials of the institution and how the operations impacted. And that was how I came into it. And subsequently, was able to spend a lot of time not just in the CFO’s office and in trustees meetings, but in student review meetings, in academic meetings, on the floor with the admissions teams. And it really gave me what I think is a unique broad perspective of what all of the parts of the engine are doing, from the president down to an admissions counselor.

Jarrett Smith:
I find it really interesting when someone comes in from the outside kind of with that fresh perspective, and is obviously, I think you coming in from the PE side, are bringing with you sort of a set of mental frameworks, ways of looking at business that may be foreign or less common in the higher ed space. And so, I kind of wonder, for you, somebody who has sort of a track record of turning around businesses and sort of understanding the engine and where it may be broken, what are some of the ways that you looked at higher ed or still look at higher ed? Are there any frameworks or thought processes that you would kind of point us to that might be a little different than what we would normally expect?

Geoff Baird:
Well, I don’t know if I would say they’re different from what we’d normally expect, but I certainly can answer how I think about it. And you’re right, there are absolutely frameworks and structures that I utilized in the private sector, and many of those were applicable in higher education, some of them were not. But fundamentally, as I came in, and again because I started with the financials, the financial stability and sustainability of an institution, ultimately that works its way down to, are you getting students in and are you keeping them in? Right? Are you delivering outcomes and value? But the framework with which I looked at an institution as I came in was very similar to what I did in the commercial world. And it really, there’s really four elements to it, which is understanding the dynamics of the specific market that you operate in, understanding your product, do you have a viable, competitive, unique high value product?
What is your share in your market or the market that you want to participate in? And then, who are your competitors? And interestingly enough, I mean, it’s not that that’s rocket science. Lots of institutions I’ve subsequently helped write strategic plans and been through re-accreditation processes, and those are all elements that are there. But that is the starting point. And in particular, where this goes down to, when you’re talking about trying to turn around performance or improve performance, improve enrollment, improve the financial sustainability of institution, it really comes down to share. Your share of the market. Is there available share for your products, your programs, your institution? And share in higher ed, and this is where sort of my early learnings of translating commercial speak into higher ed. What you’re really talking about to a certain degree is yield rate, and are you yielding at, are you getting your fair share of yield, of the available students in wherever you’re targeting, whether it be a programmatic area or a geography?
But that framework, it’s been pretty consistent, and quite frankly, as I’ve gone in over the years and reviewed dozens and worked with dozens of institutions, that’s been the consistent model that’s allowed us to sort of understand, where are we really? And to then come up with solutions., And those solutions, by the way, break in once you start trying to figure out and answer the question, how do we get more share? Are we getting our fair share? And if not, how do we get more? Or where are we going to go to get that?
Now, you start getting into an interesting level of detail around big swings versus fixing cracks in the foundation. And as someone who’s spent their career, a majority of my career turning things around, what I’ve found is, it’s exciting and cool to spend a lot of time, or feels great to spend a lot of time on the big swings. Oftentimes, people miss the path of fixing the cracks in the foundation.,And both of those have to happen to ultimately turn around the performance of whatever you’re trying to turn around.

Jarrett Smith:
Yeah. So, thinking back on your experience at different institutions, and I think looking specifically at the practice of enrollment management, what are some of the, could you give us some examples of the big swings and cracks that you found to be the most impactful?

Geoff Baird:
Yeah. Well, big swings tend to be things like, we need new programs. We’ve got to enter new geographies, we’ve got to put new programs in place. And the theory behind that, or thesis behind that is generally, and the question I would ask is why? Right? And the answer, at least that normally comes out is, well, because we’ve saturated our existing programs or existing geography. And when you dig into that, more often than not, and this is why I come back to yield, because more often than not, that’s not actually the case. So, a big swing, I mean, it’s a big effort to implement a new program. It’s a big effort to crack open whole new geographies or whole new segments, whether it be we’ve got to go online and adult, or we’ve got to add nursing, whatever it may be, those are sort of the big swings.
Yield, though, often tells a different story. And when I talk about this with institutions, I’ve had many times when the people on the other side of the table have pulled out calculators, and that is in discussion of yield, because with the proliferation and the ease with which students can now apply to colleges, right? I think when I was applying, I may have applied to 4 or 5, and whatever it is now, 10, 12. So, it’s a big number. And there is, students have much greater access to almost perfect information about the institutions. And so, yield rates, right, for a lot of institutions are sub 20%. But let’s say the yield rate’s 15% for an institution. What that means is that they have acquired 100 admins, and of those 100 admins, 85 said no and 15 said yes. And inside that 85, the question that I started asking as I came in was, why do so many say no, and aren’t there a couple more?
And what’s interesting about the math of the yield rate is, if you can find just three more inside of the 85 who you’ve gotten to apply, but they said no, if you can just find three more and swing them to your institution, you’ve actually grown your enrollment by 20%. And that concept, when I talk about sort of filling the cracks, right, big swings are big strategic initiatives designed to drive, again, crack open new markets with new programs, etc. Filling the cracks are getting down to a level of detail of, wait a minute, inside the 85 who say no, there’s got to be three more. And even if you take that 85 who said no, and say that there’s a set of those who will never enroll because we may be their last choice, and there’s a set of those who can’t enroll because they will never be able to work out all the logistics of going to college, even if you knocked off a big chunk, you still are probably left with 40 to 50 students that were in serious debate about your institution or someone else.
And filling the cracks, in my definition, is getting down to that level of understanding of, this is where yield improvement lies, this is where enrollment lies, and let’s start digging into the processes. The data and the processes that are in place to try and attract, identify and pull those students in. And so, this is one of the areas, you asked the question, what are the big sort of differences here? And this is one of them is, what I found when I came into higher education and as I dug into enrollment management was, for lack of a better term, I saw what I would classify as almost a sense of entitlement, that students will come to our institution versus someone else’s.
And the competitive environment today, as we all see, is very different. For many, many institutions, that’s not going to do it. The institutions have got to recognize that the student is a consumer. Consumers make decisions in very consistent ways that the process of evaluating, and particularly evaluating a purchase decision of this magnitude, it requires a greater level of personalization and engagement. And that’s sort of beyond just a personalized marketing message, right? If you want to find those three inside of the yield, you number one have to be able to get to them,.and then the second, you have to be able to engage with them with an understanding that as a consumer, they’re evaluating you and a couple of others, if you can get to that small group. And now, what are you going to do to pull them through? And what I found was the level of detail to get into there, traditionally, has not really been part of the common higher ed enrollment management playbook.
And when I think about the modernization of enrollment management, that’s one of the core components is, really understanding that these are consumers. There’s consumer buying theory and behavior that is fairly well understood, and that ultimately, colleges have to compete, right? There are sets of students that are going to naturally be attracted to your institution. There are sets of students that not, right? That you’re not going to be the right fit. But that group in the middle is where competition resides. And I think that, by and large, enrollment teams have been reticent to sort of acknowledge that, “Hey, we have a wonderful institution here. We have a great place, a great product, we deliver outcomes, we have great teaching. We deserve a shot with these students. And so, let’s go give it our best.” And that’s very different from, “Let’s wait for the student to call in and ask us a question about the institution.”

Jarrett Smith:
I know that part of your work, and talk about getting down into the weeds, part of what you ultimately did was look very carefully at the admissions counselor and the role that they play in this. I wonder if you could take us on a little journey of, how did you zero in on admissions counselors and then ultimately, I know you’ve done some actual formal study around them, and I’d love for you to share with folks what you’ve learned and studied about admissions counselors. Super interesting, but I think maybe, I know you didn’t get there just instantly maybe, or maybe you did? I don’t know. Take us on that journey.

Geoff Baird:
Yeah. Well, I mean, the journey, again, started with trying to figure out why isn’t an institution growing? And when you start following that sort of root cause of why, why, why, and you start to get into low level processes, right? What is the experience for a prospective candidate? How is marketing and enrollment working together to draw those students in? And when you start thinking about, in the context of yield, all of the things that we’re doing now are getting our 15 to 20 or 30% yield. So, then the question is, what has to change to try and get another point or two out? Which, for many institutions, is dramatic and has a huge impact, again, on the long-term sustainability and viability of the institution.
So, that path became, when I kind of learned, and of course I had kids that I went through the college process, I have kids have gone through it. And what I started digging into was literally what happens every day. And I had this benefit of being on campus, of being inside the ropes, so to speak, every single day. And so, honestly, it was no more, in some ways no more complicated than I started spending time with the admissions team. And I would sit, I probably spent hundreds, literally in the hundreds of hours sitting in the admissions office with the admissions teams, silent, watching, understanding how did the process work. Not just when prospective students came in and not just when they came on tours, but what did the admissions teams do every single day?
And it’s not exaggeration to say that I was there when people showed up first thing in the morning, and I would sit and watch them and kind of chat with them, but was really trying to pay attention to, how did they get into their day? What did they do? How did they make these decisions? And what I found, which was, again, when you think about the low level cracks in the foundation that can be filled is, and this was one of the big things that really shocked me as compared to some of the commercial environments I’ve been in was, just the level and the amount of subjectivity that sits where the rubber meets the road, where admissions counselors meet the students.
Hundreds, hundreds of decisions every single day, subjective decisions. And those subjective decisions become very small. Who do I work on? Who do I think could be a great fit here, and why? How do I organize and prioritize my time? When you factor in that admissions in general has a really, really interesting group of folks who work in it, right? You can have people who have 15, 20, 30 years of experience and you can have kids right out of school, and the level of subjectivity is sort of where yield goes to die. And so, it was sitting and watching and really understanding how the entire process works in all of the meetings that take place.
And you kind of mentioned this study, this led us to do something that, as far as I’m aware, I don’t know that anyone had ever really done before. And that is, we did a work time study on admissions counselors. And I think we’ve done this now with 22 or 23 different institutions. We sat down and we deconstructed the workday of an admissions’ counselor into, kind of, I think we think we identified something like 65 distinct tasks that they spent time on. And we first did kind of an internal audit with the institutions that we had internally had worked with, and it required a lot of honesty in looking in the mirror around how do things really work? What are they really doing every day and how long does it take them?
And we were shocked. What we found is, when we, and by the way, none of the 65 items or so that we identified and tracked, none of them were actually talking with a candidate or interacting with a candidate. These were all the things that are around that and preparing for that, and trying to optimize the efficiency and effectiveness of the day. And so, we went through this and we were kind of shocked by our own answers, and then went out and started asking other institutions. The numbers are a little bit, it’s interesting, in some cases, we have leaders when we go through this where they say, “That’s what I expected.”
Others are a little bit shocked. But the net is that the average counselor spends somewhere in the average of 600 hours a year kind of swimming through their data, trying to make the right decision. And that is… This subjectivity that sits in there, by the way, it was as high, we found institutions where it was as high as 1,000 hours per person per year.

Jarrett Smith:
Whoa.

Geoff Baird:
Half of their time.

Jarrett Smith:
Wow.

Geoff Baird:
Yeah. And so, really, when I think about the modernization, what I’m talking about is not just the approach to the market and the understanding of how we compete, but then it gets down to that level of detail of, how do we get more out of our existing team? How do we get more efficiency? Boy, colleges and universities spend a lot on new student acquisition, marketing budgets and admissions budgets. And the institution of the future is going to have to be, it’s mandated, it’s going to have to be more efficient. They’re going to have to be more efficient, not only across their teaching and learning and outcomes, but student acquisition, right? It’s got to be in support of that. And the basic structures of enrollment management as they sit, generally speaking today, are really inefficient. And that data was really shocking. Matter of fact, when we go through this exercise, I’ve gone through this exercise, and when our team goes through it, there’s often a really interesting moment of recognition with the leaders as the time adds up to, very simply, is a simple, simple example.
If your team comes in in the morning and they spend 15 minutes preparing for their day, which doesn’t sound like an unreasonable thing to do.

Jarrett Smith:
Oh no, that’s the blink of an eye.

Geoff Baird:
Yeah, I spend more than that myself. But you take that 15 minutes and what are they doing? What’s actually going on there, right? They’re trying to figure out, “I have limited time. Where am I going to focus it? Where can I make a difference?” Now, by the way, there’s lots of factors that can muddy the waters. As a human, I’d prefer to have conversations that are enjoyable than ones that aren’t. And for many institutions, right, the applicant overload breeds a scenario where, when I get a candidate and I’m having great conversations, I want to continue those conversations, right? I want to spend time there.
And conversely, we now have more candidates than ever that really, truly are not interested in the institution, right? They’re just throwing applications in. But we don’t know that right now. And so, we have to go after them. Those are not as enjoyable. And so, this is the first 15 minutes of the day. And let’s say you do that after lunch to regroup, and let’s say at the end of the day you do that, I just laid out 45 minutes to an hour of an eight-hour day.

Jarrett Smith:
Geoff, I want to jump in real quick. You just reminded me, I think, of some data that came out from Niche in November where they had asked students, “Have you applied to schools that you know very little about?” And I think the stat was 66% of students that said, “Yes, I have applied to schools that I know basically nothing about.” So we think of an application as a great sort of vote of confidence that we’re seriously in their consideration set, but to your point, that is absolutely not the case.

Geoff Baird:
Yeah. So, challenge one, we have limited teams. And in fact, as we all know in enrollment management, that’s probably the single thing that keeps leaders up at night, is holding onto the teams that they’ve got and trying to keep their teams fully staffed. But the level of efficiency that we’ve got to drive, we have to improve the efficiency of those teams. And so, part one is getting them focused in the areas where they really can make a difference, right? And identify where students are really truly debating between your institution and another one or two. So, the first challenge is getting them into that group quickly, as quickly as possible, and not trying to eliminate guesswork. And then, the second challenge, right, the second level of that is sort of, what do you do now? And the answer can’t be, “I’m going to answer questions.” Right? If you want to win those three, right, those incremental three, which are game-changing for the institution, right? You get those three on a 15% yield, and you’ve grown 20% and you’ve hit a home run, right, for most institutions in America.
But when you can isolate those students that are truly in their consideration set, this is sort of the next level of execution, which is, as I mentioned before, there’s a common commonality to how consumers make decisions. And to oversimplify it, and it’s really not that much different whether I walk into a convenience store and I’m deciding which bottle of water to buy, or whether I’m making a decision with all three of my children on a college. And that is, the simple math of the consumer decision is, do the unique differentiating strengths of this product overwhelm or override by perceived weaknesses with this product? That is the simple equation of how consumers make decisions. And it’s interesting, I spent a bunch of years in consumer electronics and had the opportunity to sit in a lot of rooms with a group of really smart people who studied this as their life’s work, how consumers make decisions, and how you can get one more consumer to buy into your product.
And that’s sort of a massive oversimplification, but it is also true and accurate and a wonderful framework for thinking about, when you can get to those students who are truly debating you, right, you versus another institution or you’re in the top four, what do you do at that point? And it’s really, the formula is not easy, but it’s simple. And that is, does that student see, through their eyes, the unique differentiating strengths of your institution? Can you validate that? Do they see it? If they don’t see it, that’s the job. Help them see it. And then the second part of that equation is, everyone sees weaknesses in a particular purchase or a college decision. And we oftentimes, I found when I spent more and more time with admissions counselors, there’s sort of a fear of exposing a negative. And I actually believe in the exact opposite, right? The more that we know, if we know what they view as the weaknesses, now the math equation or the equation to help pull them in, it actually becomes pretty simple, which is, have you identified, do they see the strengths, yes or no?
If no, help them see a yes. Do we know what they view the weaknesses are of our institution? If we don’t know that, get that. And then, the math equation, based on consumer buying theory is, highlighting and reinforcing the strengths is what overcomes the weaknesses. I worked with an institution several years ago whose campus was in an old factory. There was no quad, there was no traditional campus. That was a perceived weakness of the institution for many, many students. And instead of shying away from it, what we leaned into was, let’s understand explicitly if they view that. If they always had a vision of walking across the quad, we’re never going to be able to give that to them. Nothing we can do to change our campus. What we can do is help them to understand very clearly, very, very unique differentiating strengths of the institution because that is what overpowers the dream they may have had of walking through the quad.
And so, this is what I saw as I started digging into the interactions between the actual interactions between the student and the institution, and the big swings that we put in place, new programs, geographic expansion. Those all went, but in parallel, every place that when I’ve gone in and helped, and even in my commercial businesses in the first 20 years of my career, it was around getting down to that level of detail around, where do we literally touch the prospective student and how do we make a difference there? Let’s be really, really honest with ourselves as to what’s happening in that moment and what are we trying to achieve in that moment? And when you can put those two things together, you really can make a difference. And you can find just those three more of those 85 who’ve been admitted.

Jarrett Smith:
So, I’m wondering if you could talk to us a little bit about what sorts of problems in enrollment management do you see as solvable with technology, and specifically the more advanced technology that we have today, AI and machine learning and those sorts of things. Where do you see that fitting in and being a part of the solution here?

Geoff Baird:
Yeah. Well, so interestingly enough, the first third of my career was in software and technology and big data. And so, I’ve always sort of come at business problems through that lens. And the same thing obviously applies in higher education. We are seeing this collision. We are at the collision point right now of the kind of next wave of massive technological advancement, which is AI and enrollment management. And I think the biggest challenge that we face is, there are lots of hypothetical, theoretical, and experimental ideas to pursue, and those need to be pursued. And as I was at NACAC this year, a majority of the discussions were around AI. But in particular, generative AI. And even to get more specific, it was topics like, how do we identify if a student’s written an essay with AI? And as someone who views themselves as an operator, right, who the financial sustainability of an entity is what’s at stake?
And we talk about sort of the big swings versus fixing the cracks. I always lean into, not technology for technology’s sake, but technology to solve very specific process problems. And as I sat through NACAC this year and sat through a bunch of these presentations, I mean, it was all very, very interesting. But none of it is needle moving for institutions now. And chat bots are, they’re not advanced enough, and that’s not really the problem. You’ve got to diagnose the problem correctly and where processes can be impacted, and then find technology to fix those very specific things. And that’s sort of been my approach even before AI.
And so, when I think about the nuts and bolts of improving enrollment yield, I focus on yield because I think for many, if not all of us, the days of increasing marketing budgets are over, or have been over. There’s just not a lot more money. Cost of acquisition of new students has got to go down. Discount rates have got to drop, they continue to rise, right? We’ve got to get better at yielding. And so, in thinking about how to apply technology, it’s really around, how do we impact yield? And if we take that further, what we really need to identify is, how do we get to students at the time in their decision cycle where we can make a difference? That’s the big thing. And it’s really not, can we edit an email?
I have a lot of people, as someone that works in AI, we have a lot of people that ask me about how’s it going to impact higher ed? And I always kind of divert this. I can’t speak to teaching and learning. That’s a whole different kind of realm that here we could spend a year talking about. But inside of enrollment management, it’s not editing an email, and it’s not writing an email. By the way, those are important, and it’s going to transform marketing and messaging with personalization. But to move the needle, the power that we’ve got now is to get deeper in the funnel and to truly identify the predictive moments in the journey, as opposed to correlative moments.

Jarrett Smith:
So, if I’m putting this in sort of English major terms, of course my English major excuse is running thin because you’re one too, but you’re super smart on this stuff.

Geoff Baird:
Well, it’s…

Jarrett Smith:
I need to find a new excuse.

Geoff Baird:
Look, English is my native tongue and I barely speak it. So, I’ll leave out where I went to college.

Jarrett Smith:
So, you’re using these tools to uncover sort of what is truly predictive and not just correlated. So, if I’m kind of taking that to terms I can understand, are you saying it’s easy to look at your data and say, “Oh, they visited campus or they applied. That must be the big thing that we’re looking for. That’s what’s most predictive.” And you’re saying is, and maybe the picture is actually more complicated than that?

Geoff Baird:
Yes. What we now can see is, really, the whole series of behavioral markers that signal enrollment from the moment the interactions begin, and you can track that journey the entire way and identify when people are essentially behaving. This is a 50/50 coin flip proposition. By the way, there’s people behaving at the bottom of the funnel as if they are never going to enroll, and there are people who immediately shoot up and they behave as you would expect if you are their first choice or top choice. But that group in the middle, the ability to be able to see them and understand how they’re moving, the way that I think about this and really truly is, I’ve seen the power of what focused targeted machine learning can deliver. My daughter, when she was evaluating colleges, had a list of Post-it notes on her wall listing out, as they change real time, her order of preference.
And we can’t, obviously now, we can’t see who are on all of the other Post-it notes, but we do have the ability now to start to see where are you on the list and how is that changing over time? And that, arming an admissions team with that alone, even with nothing else, so just understanding, is Geoff have us, is he demonstrating the signals that suggest statistically that we are at the top of the list, the middle list or the bottom of the list? That completely changes how an admissions team and a marketing engine can interact and communicate with those students. And so, the thing is, this is here now. And the one thing I would add for people listening to this is, the one little caveat here is that, we’ve talked for many years, we’ve been pursuing sort of the predictive lead score. And while that is unbelievably powerful to be able to derive it, as I sat for hundreds of hours with the admissions counselors, what I realized is, they needed to go a little bit deeper than just being able to sort of sort by a single score.
And I think this is the next wave, is really being able to identify the students at a more granular level, to provide more precision to what are arguably the most powerful assets of the institution, which are the humans. To be able to go and have substantive conversations with the right people. And then, as I had mentioned earlier, to dig into, “Hey, let’s talk about what you see here that you love, and let’s also talk about what you see here that you don’t like. And let me help you through that.” Right? “I’ll help you through this really difficult part of the journey.” If counselors and teams spend more of their time in those moments and less of their time in these 600 to 1,000 hours of just trying to figure out who should I talk to, that will move the needle, and that will move the needle in parallel with big swings.

Jarrett Smith:
Geoff, this has been a really amazing conversation. Folks want to hear more, want to connect with you, want to learn more about your company, Enroll ML, which is doing some really interesting work around all these problems that you’ve kind of laid out for us. What are the best places to go, what are the best places to connect with you or learn more about your company?

Geoff Baird:
Anyone that’s listening, you’re welcome to go to enrollml.com. www.enrollml.com. Anyone is welcome to connect with me on LinkedIn. Be aware, my first name is spelled Geoff, G-E-O-F-F, but Geoff Baird at LinkedIn. And I’m always happy to talk further about this. And I think, there’s a lot of people obviously talking about what’s going to happen in 10, 20, 30 years out and big visions of the future. Personally, I tend to be a little more focused on how do we operationalize what’s accessible now, so that we’re still there in 30 years to leverage these big things that are coming. And so, that’s really what we built up.
What our objective was, was to take really advanced technology, but then apply it simply and apply it in a very pragmatic manner, which is to try and get this really, really deep advanced math and statistics of machine learning and the predictive models, and get them in the hands of the admissions counselors, and to be able to sort of maximize the value that they bring. And so, a very pragmatic approach to what is very, very complicated, exciting sets of technologies that are continued to emerge. And when we have this conversation a year from now, it’s going to be a whole completely different set of things that we didn’t even contemplate right now. It’s moving, obviously, incredibly fast.

Jarrett Smith:
Thank you so much for your time today, and I’ve really enjoyed our conversation.

Geoff Baird:
I appreciate it. Thank you.

Jarrett Smith:
The Higher Ed Marketing Lab is produced by Echo Delta, a full service enrollment marketing agency for colleges and universities of all sizes. To see some of the work we’ve done and how we’ve helped schools just like yours, visit echodelta.co. If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. And as always, if you have a comment, question, suggestion, or episode idea, feel free to drop us a line at podcast@echodelta.co.

Photo of author

Jarrett is our VP of Strategy and the torchbearer for all things digital. Since joining us in 2014, he’s made it his mission to help clients seize the power of smarter marketing strategies—and reap the rewards.

Related Insights