By Caroline Ramos | Director, Client Services
Editor’s note: This is the first post in a series focusing on best practices for lead generation in the online education industry.
Year after year universities struggle with enrollment rates. At the same time marketers are testing new advertising channels, shifting budgets, designing new creative assets and everything in between to reach that seemingly elusive enrollment goal.
But why is nothing changing? Why are enrollment rates dropping after all that investment in time, money and effort?
It’s simple, really: The ﬁrst point of contact is your ﬁrst impression and it can make or break the success of a prospect’s enrollment. The best advertising campaign in the world is frustratingly useless if the admissions process deters prospective students.
Many universities with large marketing budgets fail to focus on what’s happening right under their nose, and in most cases, right down the hallway. I have seen everything from a first point of contact being a direct-mail piece to callbacks that occur two weeks after an online information request is submitted.
A successful online marketing campaign for a college or university isn’t just measured by a conversion rate. Performance marketing in education requires three critical components to be successful:
- High-quality traffic sources: You need to have traffic (students) who are interested in learning more about a particular school.
- Optimized creative: A high-quality landing page, great email design and banner ads that really catch the eye of prospective students.
- Structured workflow: A cohesive admissions process that is ready to work a lead.
You can leave the first two requirements to the experts at MediaWhiz. We know what converts well in terms of website and landing-page design and we know what media mix will work best for you based on your program offerings, location and unique application requirements.
The third component is where you and your admission team come in. The admissions process needs to be prepared for these new prospects, armed with answers to their questions and the ability to guide them in the right direction based on their needs.
Below are a few best practices to follow to ensure your admissions team effectively and efficiently closes the loop from the time an information request is made to the ultimate goal of enrollment.
- Your first point of contact should be a phone call. Anything less puts you light years behind your competitors who are using this tactic.
- Call the prospect within 24 hours. Some schools call back within the hour, but manage these times within your team’s bandwidth.
- Make sure your team has some sales background. At the end of the day you need your team to sell your school and help finalize the decision process for the potential student.
- Make sure your Admission Representative:
- Asks open-ended questions
- Probes to identify buying motives
- Acknowledges prospects needs and concerns
- Links program details to buying motives
- Uncovers objections
- Addresses objections with solutions
- Creates a sense of urgency
- Gains commitment
5. Have a strong call closing. Assure that the prospect begins the application process immediately or that they have everything they need to begin the application before ending the call. I’ve seen too many universities direct their prospect to an email that often ends up in the spam folder. Needless to say, the application process ends there.
6. Follow up on the prospects that are not interested at this time. If a prospect doesn’t sign-up after two weeks, it doesn’t mean they won’t sign-up in the future. All it costs is the price of a stamp or an email distribution to stay in touch with the prospect for as long as you wish. Some take up to a year to decide to attend college.
The purpose of advertising is to sell. It’s crucial, therefore, to have a strong admissions team that can sell the school and its programs and get the prospect to begin the application process while on the phone. Unfortunately, education will not sell itself. The competition in the education market is only getting stronger. If you’re not managing your lead flow efficiently, you could be handing hundreds of thousands of enrollment dollars to your competitors.