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How TCNJ's Stephen Tomkiel Maximizes the Slate-Halda Connection

How TCNJ's Stephen Tomkiel Maximizes the Slate-Halda Connection
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As director of the MBA program at The College of New Jersey, Stephen Tomkiel knows the importance of immediate follow-up with potential students.

“There’s a lot of research in the adult learner graduate study space that tells us if a student’s not getting follow-up within 24 hours, there’s a good chance you’ve already lost them,” he explains.

The connection between Halda and Slate helps his team streamline follow-up to quickly make the most of that initial interaction.

“That direct import is always going to be huge,” he continues. “Being able to make that initial connection, to make sure somebody doesn’t drop off our radar after they’ve indicated interest is crucial.”

Stephen has constructed a sophisticated communication system in Slate to make sure Halda’s leads don’t fall through the cracks.

“I love Slate,” he explains. “I built a pretty robust drip campaign so that once a lead enters our Slate database, they are automatically synced into a 3-month drip campaign. Prospects are getting some kind of email or text or link to a video right out of the gate.”

Halda’s integration ensures that this follow-up happens efficiently. “That’s one of the things that makes the integration between Halda and Slate so impactful,” he continues. “In a perfect world I’d see the lead come in and react the second that happens. But, usually, that’s not the reality of my situation. Halda’s integration gets them that email right away, and syncs them up for future communication. Then, if they want to engage further, they can connect with me and set up something on my calendar.”

As convenient as this functionality is, however, it doesn’t mean much if it doesn’t lead to results. 

“It’s really important for my team to be able to see what actually comes out of our partnerships. We have a data point for every record in our system that came from a Halda interaction, so we can see that 15% of our Fall 2023 class came via Halda.” 

Maximizing ROI in Higher Education Marketing

Tomkiel believes that higher education in general needs a stronger focus on every partnership’s overall return on investment.

“I wish higher ed looked more through the lens of what represents an immediate, obvious return on investment. I can look at a tool like this and quickly see that Halda immediately pays for itself. And now I can take those reports to other people on campus and say ‘Hey, this is something we should continue to put more energy into because we’re seeing outcomes.’”

Tomkiel then compares this Slate data with information that lives in Halda’s app to fully understand the journey his students have taken, especially with Halda’s two-way integration that tracks lead interactions from first touch, to lead capture, all the way through to enrollment.

“To get comparable data on the Halda side helps me take the guesswork out. We get real transparency about how our campaigns are doing. It’s a huge value-add,” Tomkiel continues.

Accomplishing these results and building on them is a product of Stephen’s truth-seeking, humble approach to his position. It’s the kind of perspective that keeps him curious about what’s out there and open to researching, implementing, and trusting vendors trying to make a real impact in higher education.

“For whatever reason, I’ve always been a champion of knowing what I don’t know,” he explains. “I certainly have no authoritative knowledge of how to capture stealth traffic. What’s going to work? What’s going to get visitors’ attention? What data points do I need to focus on based on national trends? What prompts are most engaging? But I know Halda has that data. I know you have done a lot of work with a lot of great partners to develop that library of information. The fact that I can then get that information in Slate on the back-end makes it even more useful”

This perspective enables him to work hand-in-glove with Halda’s service team to optimize lead generation on the website.

Halda Lead Capture to Enrollment Snapshot

“I’m working with my Halda rep, Judson, right now, and I always let him know up-front that I’m looking for his recommendations. And I always get great ones.”

One of these recommendations involves those initial interactions on the website that he’s always trying to fine-tune for maximum effectiveness.

“A big example right now is that Judson and I have been leaning in together to create a personalized plan page, where students can indicate the program they’re interested in and talk about the pain points they’re experiencing in their student journey.”

These kinds of interactions generate more leads and provide more data points to live in–you guessed it–Slate.

“The ambitious part of my brain is like ‘Okay, let’s go into Slate and run some analytics to find out what are students’ most common pain points.’ Then let’s address them.” Tomkiel continues, “How do we talk about those pain points in our communication campaigns? How do we address concerns that some students are explicitly telling us they have, but probably a huge additional pool of students are experiencing?”

Building better enrollment marketing products through collaboration

Coming closer to these ever-evolving targets is one of Tomkiel’s consistent goals. It’s also one of Halda’s, which is, perhaps, why we also lean on Tomkiel’s expertise and experience in developing our own products. This collaborative process is something Stephen is excited about as the partnership evolves.

“I always want to understand the people who are trying to do new things, what they are doing and how I can be a part of it,” he explains. “The fact that Halda has given me the opportunity to be a part of these conversations about products that don’t exist–that may never exist–is special. It’s certainly a conversation I don’t experience with other partners.”

Tomkiel provides insight into what higher education needs, and Halda listens. It’s conversations like these that led to Halda’s decision to build integrations with Slate and eventually a partnership. It was a natural extension of what intelligent higher ed professionals were saying about where the industry needs to go. This truth-seeking approach helps connect us with resourceful institutions trying to do more with less in a constantly shifting higher education landscape.

“Halda is a small, high-touch team, which aligns with who we are at my institution The College of New Jersey. That’s what we’re all about. It’s the way we work with our faculty and the students in our community. Seeing that match with Halda has always been fantastic.”

Through integrations with flagship higher ed companies like Slate, Halda aims to strengthen this alignment for every enrollment cycle to come; but integrations aren’t the only way Halda is building products that fit the specific needs of higher education.

Artificial intelligence is here, and higher education needs to make the most of it to automate tasks and maximize their resources. Halda incorporates AI for data analysis, content generation, and to recommend specific follow-up communication with students–the same follow-up communication that people in Tomkiel's position know is crucial to enrollment success.

Through this combination of data architecture, AI incorporation, and collaboration with partners like Stephen, Halda innovates to stay constantly ahead of whatever challenges higher education might face.

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