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Counting Clicks

June 14, 2022

Leonard Lopoo headshot

Leonard M. Lopoo

RELATED STORY: A Pledge to Transform Education

While the School of Education has focused on Baldanza Fellows program development and the training and advisement of the first accepted students, researchers in the Maxwell X Lab have conducted experiments to gauge the effectiveness of various student recruitment tools.  

Their goal: To reveal which types of marketing messages were most effective at drawing interest from diverse audiences.  

Launched in 2017, the lab studies human behavior with experiments that harness social science and behavioral economics research to develop informed, innovative ideas.  

For the Baldanza project, student and faculty researchers curated an email list of several thousand people affiliated with the University and from outside organizations. Then, they devised different types of marketing email messages “to reach out to these individuals to see if they were interested in applying to this new pro- gram,” explains Leonard M. Lopoo, Paul Volcker Chair in Behavioral Economics, professor of public administration and international affairs, and director of the X Lab.  

The most successful messages—or those that garnered the most clicks to a website—were formatted as official letter correspondence from the University. “What we found was, if we sent them a letter on Syracuse University letterhead, signed by the dean of the School of Education, they were twice as likely to click on the website to learn more about the Baldanza Fellows program,” says Lopoo, who adds, email messages with a traditional recruitment format—colorful images of teachers with students and text highlighting career benefits—“didn’t really get their attention.”  

By late last fall, students and faculty in the X Lab had run a series of tests, tracking email opens, clicks to the program website and clicks to a page containing the digital application. Those clicks measure the success of the various tools because they reveal how many were intrigued enough to seek more information. That was the goal of what Lopoo says is a “light touch intervention.” “We do not expect people to change their career paths due to an email,” he says. “What we hope to do is get them to the proper place to learn more about an opportunity.” 

By Jessica Youngman 

Published in the Summer 2022 issue of the Maxwell Perspective

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