Interactive Social marketing Using a CRM Framework to Increase College

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					Interactive Social marketing: Using a CRM Framework to Increase College
Student Retention Rates


Attending college is an increasingly important reality those who plan to become
full participants in the American dream. Students who begin college but leave
before completing a degree can expect to experience negative consequences as a
result of the decision to leave early. For many who leave before graduating, the
consequences may include loss of earning potential extended over a life time. For
others, the decision to leave college may result in delayed or denied career
advancement. Dropping out of college has consequences for society that include
the lower tax revenues from persons who may be under-employed. Colleges and
universities also experiences consequences when students leave before graduation
in that tuition income is lost, as is revenue from fees such as book and supply
sales. For all of these reasons, college administrators have for now over three
decades, attempted to design models to improve student retention rates.

Not all students who initially enroll in college are academically competitive
enough to remain there so part, perhaps a quarter of those who leave, do so for
academic reasons. Also included in drop out statistics are those who transfer from
one college to another; essentially a drop out at one college becomes a graduate
from another. There are, then, admittedly problems in student attrition data
collection. Those issues notwithstanding, there are important reasons for campus
administrators to be concerned about student retention, not the least of which is
that it is more expensive for a college to attract new students than it is to retain the
students it already has.
Several researchers have developed student retention models focusing on the
characteristics of the student population, the extent to which the aspirations of the
students related to the culture of the campus, and whether a student can identify
viable points of connection on the campus. Relationship marketing has the
potential to contribute to the student retention model building efforts because it
focuses on strengthening the ties between customers, in this case students, and
product or service providers, in this case colleges and universities.

Using the tenets of the relationship marketing paradigm, this research illustrates
how CRM can be adapted for use by those campus administrators charged with
responsibility for improving student retention. Hierarchical bonds, developed to
build commitment and trust as factors strengthen customer retention, are modified
to match the college mission. A particularly promising aspect of this adaptation of
a marketing model to student retention in higher education is that it correctly
assigns responsibility for student retention across a broad campus constituency
rather than assigning it, as some models do, to a single person or team. And, it
suggests that it is appropriate for campus leaders to know their students for the
same reasons that successful marketing managers have to know their customers.
CRM is a potentially useful tool for those higher education administrators who
recognize the benefits inherit in reducing student attrition.