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2 Systems, 1 Goal | Nurturing Families with Website & Enrollment Software
Connor Gleason

It’s the feeling you get when the last piece of the puzzle snaps into place; tiny, individual pieces that join together to form a complete picture.

The prospective family's journey is similar — it’s a strategic series of colorful, individual touchpoints that can either work together to resonate, or fall apart before it starts to form. Your approach and the tools you use can be the difference between meeting your school’s enrollment and retention goals or struggling to fill seats.

By leveraging the combined power of your website’s content management system (CMS) with your enrollment management system (EMS), your admissions and marketing teams can create a streamlined enrollment journey for families.

Let’s take a closer look at the best practices and examples of how using your CMS and EMS together offers opportunities to create an automated, personalized, and engaging enrollment journey; saving your admissions team time and allowing your teams to focus on what matters most to your school — developing relationships with families.

What does each system do best?

Finalsite’s content management system (CMS), Composer, and Finalsite’s enrollment management system (EMS) were both designed exclusively for schools. 

Composer is more than just a CMS — it's the engine powering a whole suite of communications tools that make editing your school website a breeze and keeps your entire community engaged with its tools for email newsletters, inbound marketing, calendars, social media, and so much more.

schooladmin data on a laptop

Finalsite Enrollment is more than a database for applications. It streamlines the process of applying, enrolling, and paying tuition for families, but more importantly, it integrates these processes for schools — offering you transparency across departments, insights into the funnel and overall enrollment health of your school, and giving you easy ways to communicate and nurture families through your processes —all ensuring your school continues to thrive.

What are the benefits of using a CMS and EMS together?

While both platforms are powerful, using your school’s CMS and EMS communication tools together allows your recruitment and enrollment processes to become well-oiled machines.

Using both allows a school to leverage the web design, web platform, and inbound marketing tools of their CMS to tell their school’s story — then collect, manage, communicate, and report on the granular admission and enrollment data with their EMS.

The two platforms automate and personalize your messaging to create and deliver an individualized experience for every family, no matter where they are on their enrollment journey.

No more one-off emails, no more manual spreadsheet uploads, no more searching calendars for appointment slots —  once families are in your CMS or EMS system, you’re able to nurture them from the first touchpoint to their applications and enrollment contracts, all the way through to managing their tuition and billing payments each year.


Using the CMS and EMS systems together

Using Composer with Finalsite Enrollment provides the optimal experience for parents and administrators alike. Since each platform offers you the ability to send communications, the combination delivers the tools you need to streamline communications, nurture leads, and enroll mission-fit students in a more dynamic way.

With Composer’s automated email messaging tool, Workflows, you can nurture leads with personalized, high-level communications. These communications serve to move families through the funnel until they’ve inquired, applied, and enrolled. Each Workflow helps share more about your school with the goal of moving families to their next stage in the funnel.

Your Finalsite Enrollment communication tools can be used for more detailed, one-to-one conversations between families and the admissions department to track their status in the enrollment journey. You can even use your EMS communication tools to share internal messages and reminders to yourself or other colleagues to make more personal connections with prospective families.

What types of messages should you send with each system?

But what if your admissions or marketing teams are already doing some of that nurturing as part of their Composer Workflows or Finalsite Enrollment Communication Plans? Do you need both? While each system is useful in its own silo, they become incredibly powerful when used together.

Keep these best practices in mind when managing communications across both the CMS and EMS platforms.

    •    Create a prospective family journey map to outline all touchpoints from the first visit to your website all the way to fully enrolled students. This will help prevent duplicate communications between the CMS and EMS systems and maximize the impact of both.

    •    Use Workflows in your CMS to nurture leads by encouraging prospective students to take the next step: inquire, attend an event, inquire, and ultimately, enroll.

    •    Use Automated Communications from your EMS to drive action during the admissions and enrollment process, like completing the application or filling out back-to-school forms.

a Workflow on a laptop

Example 1) Nurturing an inquiry with your CMS Workflows and EMS

Once you’ve obtained a user’s contact information from a content download or short inquiry form embedded directly on your Finalsite website, then you can begin to nurture them, and it all starts with Workflows.

As you collect interested contacts, they’ll be set up as prospective groups within your CMS.

You can also use the Finalsite integration to send data from Finalsite Enrollment into Composer automatically. That way, any families who have filled out your official Finalsite Enrollment inquiry form or who might have already created a Finalsite Enrollment account to start an application or register for an event will automatically be moved over to Composer so they can be included in your Workflows too.

The system can detect where contacts are in the inquiry, application, or enrolling phases and you're able to dictate how you want to define each group, which contacts should be entered into certain Workflow campaigns, and what series of messages should be triggered and automatically sent to those groups based on time or engagement perimeters.

One of the series you might create is an orderly, step-by-step Workflow where every family gets the same number of personalized messages in a given group.

For example, you might set up an entry trigger when a family has filled out an application. After a certain period of time, they’ll automatically receive a message, something that says, “we're excited you've chosen to apply! Here's more about our faculty…” 

Then, after a certain number of days, hours, or whatever you like, another high-level message is sent that says, “Let us tell you about the dorms on campus...” As you educate families about your school, they’re being sent a series of messages that are nurturing them to continue your enrollment process.

With Workflows, you have the opportunity to take things to the next level and engage with families based on how they respond to the content in your messages. For example, after a static trigger such as the family requesting to join your mailing list, you can send them a message that includes a link to go fill out your inquiry form.

Then, if the family opens that email and clicks on the link to your inquiry form, you could remove them from that Workflow —mission accomplished! But if they opened your email and don’t click that link, you can send them another message to try and engage them again. The idea is that you’re engaging them in different ways and regularly nurturing the family to take the next step with you.

Example 2) Collaboratively nurturing a lead while saving time

Let’s say a parent visits your admissions page to learn more about your tuition and financial aid and downloads gated content on affordability using a simple, branded Finalsite Form, embedded directly on your site. Now you have their basic contact information, and your school can infer that the contact has an interest in financial aid.

Entering that contact into a financial aid Workflow will periodically send them email messages that can focus on the value of your school’s education, affordability, student outcomes, and demystify the financial aid process. Once they’ve engaged with that Workflow and submitted an inquiry, then they can be removed from that automated financial aid Workflow. Consider all the personalized messaging, nurturing, and storytelling your office just did — all without lifting a finger! But it doesn’t stop there…

You can use your EMS communication tools to notify your financial aid director to call this family directly, send them a calendar link to register for your Financial Aid Night or virtual coffee, or even set reminders and send messages to yourself or colleagues in the office to continue nurturing or working with families.

This kind of functionality saves time and personalizes your communications with your families — no matter where they are in the funnel — and still provides a personal touch.


Example 3) Converting a family to enroll with Workflows

Another great opportunity for schools to use their Workflows is to nurture families after being accepted with the goal of getting them to enroll. Remember, just because they’ve been accepted, it doesn’t guarantee their enrollment! Users can create campaigns with Workflows that will engage that family based on their actions.

Ask yourself:

1. Are you still competing with other schools?

While all admissions/enrollment task communication should be completed with your EMS, you can use your Finalsite CMS to promote events and market to incoming families. Messages and Workflows can help convert students who have been accepted but have not yet enrolled.

2. Did they click to learn more about the different programs that you offer?

To personalize that communication, any message you’re going to send would use the merge tokens for those fields that are inside of the EMS system, like checklist reminders when you’re letting a family who has applied but there are pieces that are still missing from their application.

After a certain number of days, you’ll want to send them a message that says, “We still need these pieces, how can we help you?” Those are the situations when you’d pull in really specific data that is tied to their application.

To help move them along in the enrollment process, you can trigger a message to your team – right down to friendly reminders to teachers to reach out to specific families, let your faculty know about a new student entering a specific grade, or notify coaches that someone is interested in your soccer program.

schooladmin comms on a laptop

Who generates the content and which system should each office use?

Your admissions office will probably feel more comfortable creating the communication plans surrounding application materials and deadlines, things they might send through the EMS.

It may be more appropriate for your marketing team to manage content and develop the Workflows and language that best showcase what your programs and campus have to offer in your CMS.

If the admissions team has worked with its marketing counterparts to create beautiful emails built on the CMS side of the website — no worries! You can take that message's HTML and use it in the email templates that you’d send through your Finalsite Enrollment communication plans.

It all comes down to having conversations internally about how both offices can work together, support each other, and create a cohesive plan to introduce and engage families interested in your school.

Key takeaway

The combined power of your Finalsite CMS and EMS allows your admissions and marketing teams to create a streamlined experience for families. When you leverage the benefits of each system, you create a process greater than the sum of its parts.

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Connor Gleason Headshot


Connor has spent the last decade within the field of marketing and communications, working with independent schools and colleges throughout New England. As Finalsite’s Senior Content Marketing Manager, Connor plans and executes marketing strategies and digital content across the web. A former photojournalist, he has a passion for digital media, storytelling, coffee, and creating content that connects.

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