Many schools spend hours searching for new approaches to reach their enrollment goals. This often ends with emphasizing lead generation over relationship building. But what if you could increase the number of registered students with the same amount of leads?
Implement best practices by focusing on the entire funnel and improve every step of your admissions experience. Slight increases at each stage can lead to significantly higher conversions of prospective inquiries, better mission-appropriate selectivity, and a higher yield of successful graduates.
While schools vary in the challenges they face to meet or exceed their enrollment targets, let’s explore how to increase conversion rates and yield in the common funnel example below.
Now, let’s dive into each stage of the funnel and demonstrate how to improve each conversion rate throughout the admission process.
Top of the Admission Funnel
The inquiry is the earliest stage of the funnel. Above all, the main goal is driving awareness and interest in your school.
Within the inquiry stage, quick reads and snackable content can help your inquiries get a captivating look at your school. Think blog posts, infographics, short videos on social media, and community events.
Best Practices at the Inquiry Stage
Keep any forms to capture leads short and sweet. Collect just enough information to be able to personalize future outreach and experiences so you can talk to families’ specific interests.
Be responsive. If you follow up with web leads within 5 minutes of form submission, you’re 9 times more likely to convert them.
Encourage word of mouth. The Enrollment Management Association interviewed 2,300 families, they discovered over 73% of families found speaking with parents of students at a school to be effective in helping them choose the best school for their child.
Reach out to your school’s parents to get more insight into how their peers are making decisions and what information they need. Beyond dinner parties and soccer games, your school advocates can set up time over coffee to chat.
Stay persistent. Invite families to tour your campus in follow-up communication. Document the number of follow-ups it typically takes to get a prospective student to visit. Based on historical figures, you can create an internal playbook to include the total number of touchpoints needed to convert an inquiry, signs you no longer have a warm lead, and other critical factors to convert leads from inquiries to applicants.
Improving the inquiry to application conversion rate by 5 percentage points with every other metric the same can increase enrollment by 10 percent.
Middle of the Admission Funnel
At this stage of the funnel, families are either taking the next steps with their application process or started but have not completed the application form (also known as draft applicants). Here is where you showcase what sets your school apart from competing institutions and help families picture themselves as part of your campus community.
The goal is to get families on-site and provide all the information they need to accurately evaluate their application decision so that they’ll confirm interest, submit an application and complete their admission checklist.
Increasing the number of applications completed by 5% can increase enrollment by 17%.
For applying families, go deeper with your content. Use virtual tours, webinars, campus tours, viewbooks, and student success stories.
Best Practices for Middle of the Funnel
Make each visit special. Leverage the information captured on your inquiry form to personalize every visit. From that data, you can highlight how your school supports student’s goals and interests. During a tour, open house, or event, you can get a stronger understanding of what matters most to a family. Then you can use that information in follow-up communication and during student interactions.
For example, if a lead expresses interest in the school’s soccer program, you can provide photos of the current team during practice in an email, introduce them to the coach during a campus visit, or invite them to the next home game to fuel excitement.
Make applying easier. Provide an online portal where prospective families can check the status of their application requirements from any device and quickly see what’s missing through a dynamic checklist. If your school admissions software has an online portal that’s mobile-responsive you can increase your conversions. One in three families uses a mobile device during the application process.
Offer smart incentives. Give special offers to families that complete their application by a certain date to help increase the total applications completed.
Send auto-reminders on incomplete applications. Set up automatic email reminders to families of their application progress. You can also set up automated notifications for follow-up calls to incomplete applicants for a more personal touch. During these conversations, you can get a better sense of what’s preventing them from completing all admission requirements.
Bottom of the Admission Funnel
Once your applications have been accepted, and the admission decisions have been made, personalization and building community are the primary strategies to yield the best results.
Help build that vital connection with families new to your school. Host welcome events where they can meet other parents and students. Additionally, invite newly accepted prospects to shadow current students with shared interests to build community and new friendships. Furthermore, get your student ambassadors involved and have them reach out to new students. Include personal touches like thank you notes and birthday cards.
Automated reminders can also play a big role in the enrollment phase. You can set up text messages to include:
- Checklist items that are incomplete
- Event reminders
- Notifications for tuition contracts
Best Practices for Bottom of the Funnel
Routinely check-in. Stay top of mind by communicating with families after they’ve been accepted.
Bridge new relationships. Help foster a sense of community using your network and parent advocacy group. The more face time they have with other families, the better to ensure they feel involved at school and excited to enroll.
Walk in their shoes. Understand how they make their final enrollment decision. Beyond the educational quality, families may also heavily weigh commute time, neighborhood characteristics, and other factors specific to their personal life.
Remember the little things. Ask faculty and anyone helping out during events to jot down any details you can use in future communication. For example, a more personalized thank you letter that includes details about a conversation or interaction during the event.
Optimizing each stage of the funnel will increase the number of students who accept your offer to enroll by 5%. And that can lead to a 28% total increase in enrollment!
For more funnel conversion strategies, check out 5 practical and effective ways to increase enrollment or catch a replay of our webinar with AISAP.