college tour, survey

Many institutions use promotional items as a part of their student recruiting campaigns to leave a lasting impression and foster a sense of connection with prospective students. However, to ensure that these investments in promotional items are effective, it’s crucial to be measuring their impact continuously. In this blog post, we’ll delve into why and how colleges and universities should evaluate the outcomes of using promotional items in student recruiting campaigns.

Why Measure the Impact?

  • Resource Allocation: Allocating resources effectively is essential for any institution. Measuring the impact of promotional items allows colleges and universities to determine if the investment in these materials is yielding the desired results.
  • Improvement and Refinement: Assessing the effectiveness of promotional items helps institutions refine their strategies. Understanding what works and what doesn’t can lead to more targeted and successful campaigns.
  • Data-Driven Decision-Making: In today’s data-driven world, making decisions based on concrete evidence is key. Measuring the impact of promotional items provides valuable data that can inform future marketing efforts.

Key Metrics to Measure

When evaluating the impact of promotional items in student recruiting campaigns, consider tracking the following key metrics:

  • Engagement Levels: Measure the engagement levels of prospective students with your promotional items. This can include tracking how many students attended events where items were distributed, how many items were distributed, and how many were returned or redeemed.
  • Social Media Activity: If your campaigns involve social media, monitor the level of engagement on your platforms. Analyze likes, shares, comments, and the use of specific campaign-related hashtags.
  • Application Rates: Assess whether the use of promotional items correlates with an increase in the number of applications from prospective students during the campaign period.
  • Conversion Rates: Track how many of the students who engaged with promotional items eventually enroll at your institution. This can provide insights into the effectiveness of your campaigns in converting interest into action.
  • Surveys and Feedback: Collect feedback from prospective students about the impact of promotional items. Ask them directly how these items influenced their perception of your institution and their decision-making process.

How to Measure Impact

To effectively measure the impact of promotional items in student recruiting campaigns, consider these strategies:

  • Pre- and Post-Campaign Surveys: Conduct surveys before and after the campaign to assess changes in prospective students’ perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors. Ask questions related to the promotional items and their influence on the decision-making process.
  • Tracking Codes: Assign unique tracking codes or URLs to promotional items or campaign materials. This allows you to directly attribute conversions or engagement to specific items.
  • Data Analysis: Analyze the data collected from surveys, tracking codes, and social media analytics to identify patterns, trends, and correlations. Look for insights that can inform future campaigns.
  • A/B Testing: Implement A/B testing by distributing different promotional items to different groups of prospective students. Compare the outcomes to determine which items have a more significant impact.
  • Feedback Sessions: Conduct focus groups or one-on-one interviews with prospective students who engaged with promotional items. Explore their experiences, perceptions, and the role these items played in their decision-making process.
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis: Calculate the cost of producing and distributing promotional items compared to the return on investment (ROI) in terms of increased applications and enrollments.

Case Study

Consider the hypothetical example of a university that used promotional items in its recruiting campaign. The institution distributed custom-branded USB drives loaded with virtual campus tours, application forms, and program brochures. By tracking engagement through unique URLs on the USB drives, they found that:

  • Over 80% of recipients visited the virtual campus tour.
  • 60% of these visitors submitted applications.
  • Of those who submitted applications, 40% ultimately enrolled at the university.

These results indicated a clear positive impact of the promotional items on the recruitment process. Additionally, the institution received feedback from prospective students that the USB drives made them feel more connected to the university and helped them make informed decisions.


Measuring the impact of using promotional items in student recruiting campaigns is crucial for colleges and universities. It helps institutions allocate resources effectively, refine strategies, and make data-driven decisions. By tracking metrics such as engagement levels, social media activity, application rates, conversion rates, and feedback, colleges can gain valuable insights into the effectiveness of their promotional efforts. Remember, it’s not just about distributing items; it’s about understanding their influence on prospective students’ decisions and continuously improving your recruitment strategies. With proper measurement and analysis, promotional items can be a powerful tool in attracting and retaining students.