5 ways to keep your student data accurate, clean and updated

As big data analytics becomes more common practice for marketers and admission professionals today, new challenges and obstacles arise. To communicate correctly with prospective students and make the right decisions out of all your data, it’s essential for you to have clean data. Dirty data not only causes a storage headache, but it can also lead to inaccurate results and unwanted mistakes in your automated marketing strategy. By not following best practices to their clean data, universities and colleges may find themselves putting the carriage before the horse when analyzing historical and large data sets for marketing and sales purposes.

As specialists in student data, we wanted to share with you our top 5 best practices to create an easy but strict Internal Data Quality Strategy (IDQS) to keep your data clean and up to date:


1) Get to know your student data

Nowadays, with the omnipresence of digital and the multiplication of sources of data and channels, it can be pretty overwhelming. So, to start, you need to KNOW your data.

  • Where do they come from? (website, social media, open days, universities fairs…)
  • Who is managing them? (admission professionals, student ambassadors…)
  • What is the purpose of our data? (students conversion, alumni campaigns…)
  • What are our key success metrics? (number of brochure requests, number of attendees at our open days, conversion of prospective students…)

Having a general overview of your data will help you get a clear vision of your strategy and sensitize other users on the importance of keeping data clean by highlighting common targets to reach.

2) Standardize your student data

# Formatting: Many times than not, dirty data is caused by basic formatting issues. As the formats differ and run through a series of imports and exports, the data issues exponentially grow. Should we put the capital letter for both first and last names? Should we include an international prefix for every phone number entered?
# Always separate first name and last name
# Abbreviations: Make sure to determine standards in the way you enter data. Will it be the US or the USA? Will it be UK or United Kingdom? These small details can have a major impact on your international recruitment marketing and can reduce by 50% your chance of reaching your audience.
# Automation: It has happened to everybody – receiving a newsletter starting with “Good Morning (Last Name)”! or “Merry Christmas +44 123 321 123!”. We don’t want that to happen! Be careful with automation and personalized messages. Be sure to standardize and set up properly your automated workflows to make sure your prospective student gets a unique application experience. Great personalization shows your students and prospects that you understand them, appreciate them and can talk to them as an individual and not as a number.

3) Create a strict route for data tracking

As we said, good data is the lifeblood of your Marketing and Recruitment departments, critical for prospecting and required for conversion. Creating a strict routine by following these listed actions will help you maintain a high level of data quality.

  • All new data entries should be verified immediately
  • Ensure that only qualified leads enter your system
  • Wrong data must be moved to the trash
  • Fill up any missing data
  • Check for duplicate records
  • Update and check data periodically

4) Build value by adding context to your student data

Ensure that you have added context to your information. They can be as plain as where you met, demographics, family (relationships), or opinions, etc. In short, you need to feed your student data system as much information as you can get. This will help you deliver the right message to the right student at the right time through the right channel.

5) Ensure student data privacy with digital tools

Did you know that 38% of your data are lost during fairs and open days due to lost forms, misspelling, or unreadable handwriting?

Millennials expect more from institutes than ever. Technology is dominating their world, and this is why institutes must adapt and embrace new technology that will help them stand out from the crowd in a highly competitive environment. It’s no longer acceptable to ask a student to fill out a paper form, or for them to wait for weeks after an inquiry to get back to them, they expect everything to be digital, well presented, and instantaneous. A proper Student Enquiry Management platform will make your life easier on several levels:

  • Use a tablet for better data accuracy. Sometimes one spelling mistake is all it takes to lose one potential student.
  • Get rid of hundreds of Excel spreadsheets and multiple sources of information. Get everything synchronized in one place.
  • A cloud-based system with the possibility to capture data online AND offline
  • Trigger automated workflows (ex: Thank you message after open day visit or brochure request)
  • No more duplicates
  • Real-time performance monitoring
  • Reduce paperwork by 50%
  • Improve reply time management and as a consequence, student experience/conversion
  • Reduce print and distribution costs

58% of Admissions Directors say their institution did not meet their enrollment goals for the 2015-16 academic year prior to May 1. Don’t be one of them and schedule a chat with us today to learn more about how you can transform your student data strategy and convert more tomorrow with GeckoEngage!

If you’d like to learn more about our Higher Education technology solutions and how they can help your University or College, why not schedule a free online demo?