Being down in enrollment causes panic for any admissions executive. During this stressful time, any number of thoughts run through your head. You’ve either heard it said or thought to yourself: “If we had more leads at the top of the funnel, we would have hit our goals.” Sure, because more in equals more out, right?
So, you doubled down and purchased twice as many names as last year. And, to top it off, you just renewed a partnership with a company like EAB or Ruffalo Noel Levitz that provides lead generation services. Still shell shocked by the price tag, you are hopeful that their outreach will be enough. But what if it isn’t? The email-centric approach may put your institution in a student’s mailbox or inbox. But, how are you separating yourself from other institutions who have also purchased these same names?
Are you doing everything you can to build a relationship with these prospects so your institution is on their lists?
Recently, I met with a colleague who lamented, “Why should I buy 80,000 names when I only need 400 freshmen? Shouldn’t I be able to buy 400 names to get those 400 freshmen? I don’t need more names. I need the right names.”
We couldn’t agree more.
The reality is that you can’t just throw more purchased names at the problem and expect more enrollment. Yes, lead generation is important. But, so is proper nurturing of those leads. If you’re buying more names, but don’t have a strategy to cultivate a relationship with them, you are wasting time and money.
At Enrollment Builders (EB), we have found that many institutions don’t need more names - they need to be better at mining the potential within the list of names they already have. We have found that an engagement strategy designed to nurture leads combined with traditional lead generation is the key to efficiently achieving enrollment objectives, so we encourage you not to forget about a couple of audiences you already know:
- existing leads
- aged prospects
Working Existing Leads
The first step is to begin with strategic outreach to those leads already in your funnel in the communication channels they are most likely to engage in.
Our industry loves email—we get to control the frequency and the timing of the communication and our teams can work during normal working hours and schedule those communications to send at a time when prospects are most likely to open.
But, every institution is using this same approach. And, while email has proven extremely successful in eCommerce for driving transactions, it is not conducive to building a relationship.
Let’s face it, today’s high school juniors and seniors are either in class or on their phones. Don’t believe me? Call a 17-year-old without an introductory text first and see how quickly your call ends with a message stating that they're not available and that there isn’t a voicemail setup. A one dimensional approach to reach prospective students just won’t work.
To really stand out and engage a prospect, you need consistent outreach that meets them on their terms for dialogue: via text message after hours, on weekends, and even on holidays. If you’re not employing text conversations as a prospecting tool, you are missing out.
And, like any relationship, the key to building trust is not only communication, but consistent communication. That’s why, at EB, we recommend developing high-impact communication cadences using both phone and SMS text. This is a one-two punch, leveraging SMS texting as a way to get the prospective students on the phone.
Training your team to use conversational messaging with prospective students will ensure that your admissions team is building relationships rather than being transactional. Combine this with dialogue on their terms, and you are immediately differentiating your institution from the others they could consider.
Qualifying Aged Prospects
Aged prospects and inquiries are those prospective students in your funnel who have exhausted all of your outreach attempts over the course of several months. They have shown little to no interest in replying to your attempts to engage them. You might actually refer to them as “dead leads” at this point.
But, after considering all the points we made above, could there be good prospects in your aged list that simply didn’t respond to the transactional communication style you attempted with them previously?
At EB, we would recommend you periodically re-engage aged prospects and inquiries to qualify those still interested through a high-impact communication cadence. For those not interested, you should completely remove them from your funnel. But, we have found that there are many instances where interest is regenerated in your institution. For example, a private institution in the Northwest reached out to us for help with aged leads. After the first three months of the campaign, we worked together to enroll an additional 200 students. Remember, these were students who previously had not connected with a college recruiter prior to our outreach.
A True Partner
As a contact center for higher education, Enrollment Builders gets asked all the time if we are a lead generation service. As you can probably guess from what we’ve already outlined here, the answer is yes…and no.
Will a partnership with EB help generate leads? Absolutely.
But unlike most traditional higher ed vendors, we do not house lists of students for you to buy to dump into your database. Instead, we’ll become a true partner by working the names already in your funnel to build relationships with those students.
The main focus of EB is to step into the enrollment management gaps your institution is facing by enabling your admissions and marketing teams to reach their full potential.
We do this through our Contact Center. EB’s Contact Center Agents have higher education experience, and understand the types of questions your students are asking. Our Agents serve as an extension of your admissions office, being sure to represent your institution exactly how you would want them to. Additionally, our campaigns integrate seamlessly with what you are already doing internally.
With EB’s Contact Center, you will easily be able to meet your prospects in their preferred communication channel at hours convenient to them.
And, rather than your admission reps continuing to spend time cold calling prospects and inquiries, EB will quickly re-engage them to qualify those that are interested, quickly transitioning them to your admissions team to continue to build the relationship.
We also do the same with live leads coming into the institution. Our Contact Center agents establish contact in real-time to answer questions and either nudge to the application or warm transfer the prospect to someone on your staff for further engagement. (And, yes, we can help you generate more of these leads, as well.)
Do you have a lead generation and nurturing partner?
We understand the frustration and stress from being down in enrollment. It isn’t fun for anyone. Deep down you know the answer is more than just buying names. You know you need a true partner who isn’t afraid to work alongside you to get results. That’s what Enrollment Builders is all about.
If you’re reading this and agree that there is a lot of untapped potential in your existing lead database that you don’t have the manpower or resources to realize, we’d love to talk about how EB might be the right fit to help.