By Kristen Hanna and Emily Yanchuck
There are two things higher education marketers know are key to driving enrollment at their institutions. First, it is imperative to have a robust marketing strategy that attracts leads to your program from a variety of different channels. Second, institutions must have a strong program strategy to ensure that the programs they offer are the ones that reflect what students and their families are looking for.
An equally important but often deprioritized strategy is developing relationships with prospective students once they become a lead but before they place a deposit. This is known as speed-to-lead marketing.
Some higher ed administrators may balk at this idea, envisioning their teams spending hours on the phone or texting prospective students. For many marketing teams, this may not be realistic as they are often tasked with seemingly endless projects and meetings that leave little room (or budget!) for adding on.
Speed to lead doesn’t have to be a 24/7 hustle. There are numerous quick wins that you can implement without a huge budget or team.
- Automate your communications – but make them valuable. Utilizing an automated text/SMS service is a relatively inexpensive way to reach students where they most likely are looking – their phones. Don’t spam them with information. Instead, send them a link to a call scheduler where they can speak to an admissions representative. This allows them to keep you top of mind while establishing a 1:1 interaction that works with the schedule of your enrollment staff (and theirs!).
- Develop a robust schedule of events. This could range from program webinars with admissions representatives to alumni networking hours to real-time video tours from current students. Try to make these live events that prospective students can add to their calendars. After each event, be sure to follow up with registrants and attendees so that your event yield is as big as possible.
- Create valuable asynchronous content. Whether it’s a video of a current student giving a tour, blogs written by faculty members, or recorded information sessions, give students something they can explore in the moment they are on your site so you capture their interest when they have expressed the desire to learn more about you.
- Offer live chat on your site. Live chat services catch students at the moment where they’re ready to make an inquiry about a program, or when they have a simple question that could be answered right away. They are also an additional avenue that you can distribute a call scheduler, an event calendar, or asynchronous content.
Regardless of what tactic(s) you use, speed-to-lead marketing creates more touchpoints with students. This can go a long way if students are evaluating you against several competitors, and can help you avoid lost opportunities just because another school has the capabilities to call a student right away.