Maximize the Potential of Your Existing Online Programs | CEO Keys

04/25/16   |  
Steve Fireng

A few months ago, I discussed the value of online programs and provided some tips for ensuring success. In this month’s CEO Keys, I’ll be expanding on this topic and digging into how to accelerate growth of your existing online programs.

The online marketplace is crowded and highly competitive. Program offerings are growing faster than enrollment volumes at a rate of 48 percent versus 11 percent,* respectively. Simply offering online programs is no longer a differentiator. At Keypath, we have launched a solution called Online AcceleratorSM where we partner with institutions to help them grow and scale existing online programs. Here are a few critical areas we look at when evaluating how to drive more success.

#1 Arm yourself with data. Perform in-depth research to determine which program specializations will be most successful based on your differentiators, location and target demographic. Analyze the competitive landscape by degree offering. Look at degree demand, including historical degree production and active demand by prospective students. Occupational demand is another important area that will enable you to gauge the strength of demand drivers. Keypath regularly releases market studies by degree program. Find them here.

#2 Evaluate your marketing process and strategies. Diversified, sustainable marketing programs are crucial. Are you advertising your programs where your prospective students are searching? How easy is it to find online programs on your institution’s home page? Do you provide a method for prospective students to inquire with a few easy steps? New marketing channels become available daily. Constant monitoring, testing and optimizing are critical components for success.

#3 Ensure your program is structured with nontraditional students in mind. It’s no secret that online students have different priorities than ground students. They likely have conflicting commitments, limited time and want to quickly put their education into practice. Successful programs empower students to move quickly down a well-marked path to graduation.

#4 Build your program for scalability. Implement a course model that eliminates bloated schedules in which you have to offer every course every term, but ensures all students have something to take wherever they are in their degree path. Keep faculty-student ratios low by applying an instructional model that reduces expenses and increases faculty-student interaction with small cohorts.

#5 Actively engage students throughout their journey. Consider assigning prospective students a dedicated enrollment advisor from their first inquiry to their first enrollment term. Once they are students, retention is critical. We’ve seen success by pairing each student with a dedicated Student Success Advisor (SSA). The SSA gets to know the student, answers nonacademic questions, checks in and works in conjunction with academic advisors.

To learn more about growing existing online programs or Keypath’s Online AcceleratorSM program, email me at

*NCES/IPEDS, Online Growth 2012-14.

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