Recruitment and retention is everyone’s job. Every interaction across the entire student lifecycle is an opportunity to impress your families, so it’s important that your marketing and admissions offices create a clear understanding of what happens throughout that journey and agree on how to attract, recruit, nurture, retain, and engage your families.
Schools that have started making the shift from siloed efforts to collaboration are seeing results and are enjoying this new integrated approach. If you are just starting this model, the following guidelines will help, and if you are a more seasoned team, periodic evaluating and revising are important.
1. Create a Cohesive Brand
When families join an admissions event online, visit your campus, or receive information from marketing, is there a unified consistent message? Does your website match the on-campus experience?
Creating a consistent brand throughout the enrollment process is critical so that you don’t confuse families or make them question your professionalism. Unless you have just been through a branding exercise, most school admissions and marketing teams can benefit from discussing their key brand elements.
Everyone Should Agree on:
- What is your value proposition and mission?
- What is your school story?
- Who is your ideal family and what do they care about?
- How do you describe your faculty, campus, students, etc?
- What images do you use? What is your voice and tone?
- Which words, slogans, and taglines do you use to describe your school?
- Are your social media channels, digital ads, and website aligned with the same story?
- Which community members – parents, students, faculty, alumni – do you profile in order to create emotional connections?
If both departments are consistently using the same language and talking points, your school’s values and brand will be much clearer. As a matter of fact, all your faculty and staff should be singing from the same song sheet, so create a guide that includes fast facts, use of logos, best practices for social media, and other important details. Take the guesswork out of it for your colleagues.
2. Optimize Your Funnel
Do you know how prospective families come to your school? Do they find you on social media, in a Google search, word-of-mouth, or from a relocation company?
Work together to identify how you’ll reach and engage parents and students at each stage of the funnel and be sure to give every family the same consistent amazing experience. Unlike several years ago when each stage was often owned by one department, successful teams agree that every stage of the funnel needs input from both admissions and marketing.
As you review your admissions funnel, work together to identify:
- How are families introduced to your school?
- How are you using your website to promote your school’s value?
- Are you effectively using social media to reach target audiences?
- Are you effectively using paid advertising to reach new audiences?
- Is your website optimized for the right keywords?
- What are the inquiry, application, and enrollment processes like?
- How do you welcome new families to your schools?
- What are your retention efforts through the year?
- How do you celebrate graduates and welcome them to your alumni family?
Once you have analyzed your current funnel, set SMART goals (scalable, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely) for important measurements and milestones.Typically these metrics include increased: website traffic, number of inquiries, open house registrants, inquiry to application rate, accepted to enrolled rate, and retention rates.
Once you agree on the goals, you can set priorities and evaluate resources. Reviewing budgets, schedules, and staffing can help eliminate the guesswork and help you set realistic expectations.
3. Implement Email Automation
If parents inquire on the weekend, do they have to wait until Monday to get a reply? Are your initial emails generic plain text saying someone will be in touch soon? Do you personalize your messages?
With over 12,000 international schools according to ISC Research, many markets are very competitive, so schools need to treat inquiries like gold! When a family is inquiring with multiple schools, if you have a quick professional response, this leaves a great first impression showing your commitment to prospective students and their families.
- Social Media Advertising
- Word of Mouth
- Online Reviews
- Blog Content
- Admissions Hub
- Virtual Tour
- Pre-Recorded Virtual Q&A
- Engaging Website Pages
- Live Virtual Open House
- Live Virtual Shadow Day
- Compelling Inquiry Page
- In-Person Visit
Content on Financial Aid, Your Value Preposition and Unique Differentiators
By investing in email automation, no matter what time zone or what day of the week someone inquires, you can set up behind the scenes workflows that work 24/7. Based on which form they fill out, the workflow will progress them through a set of personalized emails. By continually engaging and nurturing prospective families with personalized and stylized emails, schools can increase their conversion rates.
And as you get more savvy with workflows, you can add branching logic. If someone clicks on the sports information, then the next email could be sports related, or if someone clicks on robotics, the next email can be about your robotics program. If halfway through the inquiry workflow they apply, they can automatically be enrolled in another workflow that walks them through the admissions process. Slick!
Marketing and admission offices that align their strategies for effective messaging, communication, and teamwork see how this collaboration positively impacts their enrollment and retention goals. Finalsite and OpenApply can help you create a powerhouse team. For those looking to implement email workflows, Finalsite and OpenApply have an integration that makes the process seamless. You can learn more about how Saigon South International School drives quality applicants through the admissions funnel while saving time and money and allows them to streamline and optimize their re-enrollment process.