In my role as president of Royall & Company, I’ve fielded a lot of questions from Royall clients, education leaders and our own employees about the combination of EAB and Royall and what it really means.
To be fair, I’ve worked in business long enough to understand that many mergers don’t really create value for customers and that the higher education field is rife with mergers “in name alone,” where customers see virtually no benefit and cultures oftentimes clash. For that reason, I’m more than okay with the sometimes candid and challenging queries.
But when it comes down to it, everyone is wondering, Why would a best-practice firm want to combine with an enrollment management company?
An opportunity to make an even bigger impact
Now that we have more than a year of experience under our collective belts, I can give a clear answer that is borne out by the facts: The reason that EAB joined forces with Royall & Company is that as a combined entity, we are able to have an even bigger impact on the world of higher education and more effectively address the most pressing challenges facing our college and university partners.
First of all, while we have a lot in common, our competencies and approaches are complementary to each other.
EAB is, at its heart, devoted to research-based approaches to discover and implement best practices. Every year EAB teams take difficult, complex issues that members are wrestling with and identify the most effective solutions and strategies. Even if EAB uses quantitative data in the course of our work, the firm sees its job as helping members find the right answers to their problems, and that requires synthesizing hundreds of case studies, interviews and other sources of information.
On the other hand, one way to look at Royall & Company is that it's a huge real-world laboratory. Each year, Royall works with hundreds of schools on recruitment and advancement campaigns, and it applies a deeply rooted belief in the importance of testing and innovation to its work. In fact, the Royall data science team runs more than 300 experiments every year to determine which tactics are most effective and in which circumstances they are most successful.
So you can see the commonality: Across EAB and Royall, we all have a deep commitment to the idea of "best practice" and improving performance, with the only variability occurring on how we apply that commitment.
More synergy, more insight
Ideas from EAB's research can be tested, validated and refined in Royall's real-world marketing experiments. Likewise, things we discover by mining the billions of interactions that Royall has with students and alumni can feed into EAB's insights.
That means that with these synergies, EAB members get even better strategic guidance and even more effective platforms; Royall clients get even more impactful outreach and ultimately an even stronger return on their investment.
But it's not just about complementary approaches. EAB and Royall together possess data sources that cover the entire student lifecycle, from before the time when college is even a glimmer in students’ minds, all the way through to their college reunions.
Our data scientists have been able to find out, for example, that students who are actively recruited to their college through multichannel marketing campaigns actually give at higher rates as alumni, compared to so-called "stealth applicants" who didn't receive pre-enrollment marketing.
In another study, we worked with three schools who are part of EAB's Student Success Collaborative and also are Royall & Company clients for enrollment marketing. In that initial cohort, we found that the later a student applies, the less likely he or she is to make it through the first year.
These are just two examples of insights that we’re already deriving from our combined data assets, but we are just getting started. I’m genuinely excited about how, over the next several years, the combination of EAB and Royall will work to solve the most pressing challenges facing our college and university partners and help make higher education smarter and more effective.