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I met Douglas Reiner, Everspring’s Chief Sales Officer, at the 2024 PostOPM conference. Douglas and I chatted at dinner about his company, Everspring, and the challenges he sees colleges and universities facing as they seek to grow their online learning portfolios. I found our conversation illuminating and asked Douglas if he’d be willing to share some of his ideas in a Q&A.

Q: With over a decade of experience supporting colleges and universities, Everspring has a lot of experience working in higher education. Can you elaborate on the common challenges many schools are facing today, and how your approach and services enable success?

A: As a digital enablement firm, Everspring has seen a tremendous amount of change over the years as higher education has become increasingly dependent on and enabled by digitization. We serve a wide array of schools, ranging from community colleges to R1 universities, to tackle common and evolving challenges in program planning, enrollment and recruitment, student retention, and course delivery. Across these areas, we help colleges and universities build the digital infrastructure and capabilities they need to differentiate and succeed.

Today, we’re seeing that a school’s success depends on its ability to do these things:

Boost enrollment with proven strategies. This requires marketing approaches that don’t just generate leads but enroll students who will graduate.

Reduce costs by managing resources with more precision. This requires breaking down silos to streamline operations and leveraging data in program selection, recruitment and course design.

Implement new technologies. This requires adopting innovative platforms and systems that enable data integration and contribute to streamlined operations.

In the rapidly evolving landscape of higher education, schools must adapt quickly. However, simply reacting to change isn’t enough. Success hinges on a more sophisticated approach, one that leverages data and technology effectively. By embracing these tools and moving beyond traditional methods, institutions can unlock new student markets, deliver a modern and engaging experience from start to finish, and optimize their operations for greater efficiency.

Schools choose to work with us because of these three reasons:

Proven Expertise: Leveraging our proven track record in higher education, we build trusted partnerships through active listening, expert advice, tried and tested execution, and collaborative knowledge sharing.

Performance Visibility: Schools need to catch up quickly, gain comprehensive insights into service delivery and adapt flexibly to market demands. We offer a connected view of performance through an integrated tech stack that evaluates each student touchpoint to pinpoint high-return tactics and optimize spending.

Data-Centric Approach: Beyond data access, we bring a decade of detailed data about marketing and enrollment performance, student learning, and retention, so that we can build full-funnel benchmarks for our partners and deliver insights that inform targeted marketing campaigns and effective enrollment and retention strategies on their behalf.

Q: In this competitive landscape, where are you seeing smaller and mid-sized colleges and universities thrive, and what are the key factors that differentiate them?

A: While limited resources and demographic shifts pose challenges for smaller and mid-sized institutions, success is still achievable. The key is in their ability to quickly scale and adapt to capture market share in data-driven opportunities. We see schools thrive when they match their programs to job growth, when they focus in areas where they have curricular strength, and where the student population recognizes that strength.

Sometimes, colleges and universities need partners to help identify the best strategic growth path and execute accordingly. Here’s what we recommend:

Focus on in-demand programs where you can win: Conduct thorough market research and leverage data to identify programs with strong job market relevance and student demand. Don’t compete head-on with large universities; seek growth niches where your strengths shine.

Strategic online presence: Develop an online presence that aligns with your school’s identity and areas of strength. Building a quality online offering in a space where you have established visibility sets you up for success.

Craft a Compelling Value Proposition: Differentiate yourself from competitors with a unique selling point that attracts your ideal student and reflects the strengths of your school’s brand. This could be a specialized focus, a robust virtual campus experience, or a strong career support system. Ultimately, it must be relevant and true.

Embrace Data-Driven Decisions: Data empowers you to optimize marketing spend, personalize the student experience, and invest strategically in program development.

By focusing on these strategies and leveraging data, smaller and mid-sized institutions will be best positioned for growth in a competitive landscape.

Q: You mentioned that data is becoming more critical to a school’s success. What do schools need to drive better outcomes faster?

A: Absolutely, data is essential throughout the student journey. Schools that understand where to focus to drive revenue and outcomes are achieving both individual student success and overall enrollment and growth success, despite the many challenges they may face. Here are several things we think are critically important to accelerate positive outcomes:

Break down silos: Fragmented data and legacy systems hinder effective decision-making. Everspring has invested in an integrated tech stack, and, when we bring it to our partners, it joins data across marketing, enrollment, academic and student information systems, providing a unified view for decision-making. Integration goes beyond centralizing data; it offers a holistic view of behavior and performance, crucial for planning and personalization.

Measure what matters: Schools need to move beyond vanity metrics and focus on what drives enrollment and engagement. Everspring’s platform tracks key performance indicators (KPIs) like application rates and program completion as well as enabling a view into the interrelationship between KPIs, which allows institutions to identify high-ROI tactics and optimize their marketing spend.

Actionable insights and personalization: Data empowers action. Everspring’s platform translates insights into targeted outreach, leading to a more relevant student experience that drives enrollment and retention. Our partners leverage these insights to personalize marketing messages, course recommendations, delivery methods and support services for each student, from initial inquiry to graduation.

Everspring empowers colleges and universities to capitalize on emerging opportunities with sophistication and demonstrable results. Our model, specifically designed for higher education, adapts seamlessly to existing systems and teams. This minimizes disruption and resource allocation while ensuring a strategic approach tailored to your unique needs.

As the higher education landscape evolves rapidly, Everspring is here to assist colleges and universities in upgrading their playbook for success. Our established infrastructure, methodologies and dedicated teams are ready to partner with institutions, providing clear performance visibility, enabling rapid scaling, and maximizing return on investment. These things become increasingly important as the broader higher education landscape matures, evolves and positions for the future.

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