Capture Blog

That Just Happened: Real-Time Data Makes The Difference

Recently I was eavesdropping on a conversation between two of our advisory services team members. It went something like this:

“I just got out of a great meeting that reminded me of how different our company really is. I was discussing with our partner some unique marketing tactics we could implement to communicate with a new cohort of student search names that have yet to respond in the typical ‘funnel-fashion.’

“And the partner responded with, ‘You can do that? Ordinarily we wait for a report each month with a list of those students that are not engaged, moderately engaged, etc., and then figure out what to do. So we don’t need to wait for that?’

“And so I said, ‘Not with CBE! No need to wait. We see that activity daily and we can act on it … daily!’ ”

And how true this is. Marketing automation software strikes again — with it you can influence action today. You think 17 year olds wait for a report on what happened yesterday? They have their own stream of live data: Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, etc.

Here’s What Already Happened

This got me thinking, “Reports are SO 1990’s.” How many of you or your colleagues harp on consulting firms? Stop me if you’ve heard this story before … “We paid a consulting firm to come in and hand us a 300-page binder of all the things we need to do to get better. If they would’ve just given my team that money, I could’ve actually used it to (hire more people, buy the right software, etc.) make things better. Now we’re out that cash for a report I could’ve already told them about!”

Reports are historical. Titles should read: FYI, here’s what already happened. Now, I’m not saying they don’t play a role; they absolutely do. Our company is built upon the notion of data transparency, which means constantly reporting what’s happening in your pool. Our vice president of data services, Thom Golden, is always quick to point out — we don’t work in data, we work in LIVE data! (If you haven’t checked out Thom’s podcasts about disrupting enrollment management, you absolutely should). Live data means reporting is valid and offers great insights — but the moment it’s printed, it’s out-of-date.


According to Inside Higher Ed, the average higher education consulting firm is focused on cutting costs. That works for large networks of institutions that have $500 million operating budgets that perhaps have room to slash.

But what about your average enrollment office with an operating budget of $500,000? Cutting costs shouldn’t be the focus. Maximizing every dollar, every minute of the day, every ounce of their team’s effort — maximizing ENROLLMENT should be the focus.

Reporting provides a snapshot into what just happened with your campaign. Enough snapshots and you can start to piece together a macro-picture to either confirm or deny your strategy is working. Weekly reporting won’t tell you if you’ve increased your stronghold with sophomores in the Northwest, but it will tell you the exact 75 students that are totally into you this week. The great thing about LIVE data AND a marketing automation software is you can influence whatever audience you want … right now.

Behavior Can Look Different In Real Time

Back to my eavesdropping: The team members were discussing one of our partners, a private institution in the DC-area. Apparently, the university has elected to start using this real-time marketing automation data to do tests.

They recently ran a test on their “final push to apply” emails, and elected to add our CBE-tagged students in addition to Common App starters to their communications flow.

The results?

The CBE-tagged students (people who were identified as being on their website but had yet to apply) opened and clicked at the same or even slightly HIGHER rates than the Common App starters!

This shows that actively engaged behavior can look different in real-time than it would in a report. The report would’ve said, “Here are XXX students that have started a Common-App, go recruit.” Without real time data flowing into your dashboard, you would not have seen: “Here are XXX students that have hit these three web pages, spent four minutes researching financial aid, and watched a video regarding campus life. Go ask them to apply.”

The thing our partners quickly learn about real-time data? It’s addictive. Watching the live streaming visitor report, your brain goes into spirals with all of the opportunity of how to communicate with these students! The options are endless … and just like AT&T used to say, “If you have something, and you like it, you want more of it!”

That’s why we built a real-time dashboard. That’s why we believe in real-time data. That’s why we offer our own marketing automation solution. So grab your popcorn and settle in — you can watch your data stream live, or wait for your daily report each morning. But, wait a month? Seriously?! It’s 2017 people.

By Ellen Stubbs, Vice President of Marketing, Capture Higher Ed

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