Northern Arizona University Success Story

Case Study: Northern Arizona University
Operation ReEngage Services

The Challenge

Northern Arizona University (NAU) has a sophisticated enrollment engine that has been very successful enrolling traditional students at all degree levels. Yet, NAU found competition intensifying from large in-state publics, aggressive private universities, and even out-of- state institutions for non-traditional, adult students who typically attend online or at one of NAU’s more than 20 statewide campus locations. With this backdrop, NAU accumulated hundreds of thousands of stopped-out and admitted, but not enrolled, students who track more similarly to the non-traditional student experience. With internal priorities focused on new students, it became increasingly difficult to “win-back” students who had a prior relationship with NAU.

Our Approach

In December 2019, NAU launched Operation ReEngage. We worked collaboratively with NAU to identify more than 200,000 potential prospective students who had a prior relationship with the university. We then made significant investments in on-brand message development, marketing communications, and a multi-channel campaign to “rejuvenate” these relationships. As part of our intensive communication campaign, a typical prospective student (who did not “opt out”) could receive up to 50 phone calls, 15 emails, and 25 texts within the first three months.
Our communications are driven by the complexity of the lives of adult students. Our student counseling includes guidance on application, enrollment, and financial aid, as well as helping returning students regain the confidence to succeed in college. We provide an additional level of support on top of NAU’s excellent student and academic services.


Operation ReEngage has achieved outstanding results thus far. To date, 776 waves of targeted, focused emails, totaling over 12.8 million, have been sent to various population segments. More than 501,000 phone calls and text messages have occurred, and students have enrolled at an approximate yield rate of 63%. Semester to semester, students retain at 75%. Of the 2,544 students enrolled, 24% were graduate students while 76% were undergraduate. The institution’s share of revenue for this initial group is expected to exceed $21.3 million, using NAU’s historical retention and graduation rates.

Going Forward

Our work with NAU doesn’t stop here. Rejuvenating prior relationships takes time, care, and attention. We are confident that our constant identification of good fit potential students, intensive relationship building, and ongoing support will result in substantial additional enrollment growth in the months and years ahead.

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