Decoding the Admission Funnel
A marketing funnel is a tool consisting of multiple stages – starting with the introduction of an educational course service and continuing to conversion and beyond.
A prospective student moves from one stage to the next as interest in an educational course increases or exits the funnel altogether if they are no longer considering that course. The top of the funnel is always wider as there are more students who are interested in the product than there are students who want to purchase.
We all know that the most crucial thing for any educational institution is the number of enrolled students. This explains all of your budgeting considerations and the very survival of your institution.
In order to get the maximum number of students enrolled, i.e. to generate maximum hot leads, you need to take great care to market your educational institution effectively.
The first step to better digital marketing is understanding your buyers’ journey, i.e. your potential student’s journey.
Why Is Understanding the Admissions Funnel So Important?
Let’s face the truth — selecting a college or university is one of the critical decisions in the minds of your future students, and their parents.
The best universities, if they come across as impersonal and clinical, will not be able to convert leads as compared to the other institutes that resonate emotionally with students and their parents. Therefore, winning their hearts, as well as minds, is the key to convincing them your institution is not only the best fit but also cares about holistically imparting knowledge that will help the students for the rest of their lives.
Regardless of your reputation, the whole family is going to research your institution online, and it’s inevitable that will find both good and bad things about you. While you can’t control everything they’ll see, you can, and MUST strategically plan the content you provide to them.
At each step of the decision-making journey, your future students have different queries and worries.
While a high school junior needs to be persuaded that college (in general) is a worthwhile time investment, a senior who’s been accepted and is choosing between three schools needs to understand why your school, in particular, is their best fit.
In order to win all of these potential students over, you must speak their language and give them the right content at the right time.
The Higher Education Admissions Funnel
The admissions funnel is an appropriate way to map your target student’s journey. In some cases, it’s also known as an enrolment funnel.
Enrolment is a difficult task and numbers are extremely important. If you start using the admissions funnel to your advantage to optimize your existing digital marketing efforts, you may find that with the same amount of work you can achieve much greater results.
Engagement and Channels to Consider
You must understand your potential students to the point where you know them better than they know themselves.
By addressing their needs and wants at each step of their college exploration journey, you’ll ensure top-of-the-mind recall, and gain their trust. Possibly their enrolment too.
1. Prospective Students
At the top of the funnel are all the potential students you would want to attract to your education institute. Somehow, you need to connect with them and entice them to send you that initial inquiry thereby generating warm leads.
Prospective students may fall into one of two categories –
- those who are aware of your institution and
- those who do not know you exist.
For both the segments, the approach is similar. You need to create an initial connection and conversation.
Problem: Students want an educational qualification that will help them to build a successful career.
Solution: Your messages to the prospect should be generalized; meaning that since prospects are not engaged yet, you should be winning them with the surface-level unique benefits of studying at your institution. Don’t go into too much details like student life and campus activities just yet.
• Pay-per-click (PPC) on major search engines such as Google
• Mobile marketing to engage with prospective students
• Social Media Marketing on Facebook, Instagram etc.
• Email marketing with engaging content like blog articles, quizzes etc.
• Search engine optimization of your website so prospects can find you more easily
Best Practices: Use visual presentations like photos, videos, infographics, engaging email copy, online brochures etc.
This is a very small part of your prospective students who have shown interest in your institution.
Maybe they signed up for an information package on your website, or called the admissions office, or came to one of your recruitment events. This small group of people should not be overlooked because it represents the biggest opportunity for your institution.
Problem: Your targeted audience is searching for institutions and they need help in figuring out which one’s the best fit.
• Content Marketing
• Email Marketing
• Social Media
• Personal Calls
Best Practices: Use PPC remarketing campaigns, phone calls, engaging blog post via email, viewbooks with attractive photos, events for inquiries and parents, online events (webinars), email newsletters etc.
It’s extremely encouraging when all goes as per plan and you engage your inquiries to the point that students start their application process.
Once they have submitted an application form, an essay, or a test result, the applicants are then the future students who need daily nurturing from your admissions counsellors.
Problem: You’ve made it into this students list of top school choices, however, they’re afraid they won’t make it in.
Solution: Since this set of students have started their application, it’s safe to assume that they are very engaged. At this stage, your communication with them should become very personal and assuring. Guiding them through the different steps of the application process will be very helpful.
• Personal Calls
Best Practices: Use student life videos, faculty, as well as current student testimonials, personalized emails and phone calls from admissions counsellors, admissions events, and “how to apply” guides/webinars.
4. Admitted, Confirmed, and Enrolled Students
This group clubs the next few funnel stages together, since they require similar marketing engagement.
Admitted: They are the students whose application documents that have been received. The applicants meet your minimum admissions criteria and you are now going to send them the long-awaited admission letter.
Confirmed: These are the admitted students who accept the financial and admission offer. They have decided to attend your institution.
Enrolled Students: You have received the small enrolment deposit indicating confirmed students have made a financial commitment to studying at your institution on the conditions outlined in the admissions letter.
Problem: These students may have been accepted into many institutions and confirmed attendance at a few of them simultaneously. They are now actually waiting for financial offers to compare and choose their best fit. They might even have put down deposits at a few institutions because they haven’t yet made up their minds.
Solution: Your communication should be as personal as possible because these groups are well on their way to becoming members of your community. Call often to check in and make sure you address all of their queries, including financial ones.
• Personal Calls
• Social Media
Best Practices: Personalized calls from alumni, presidential emails, social media groups with other admitted students.
These are the most important numbers for your education brand.
Unfortunately, not all enrolled students will become actual students at your institute. Some will receive better offers from your competitors at the last moment, whereas some will simply change their mind.
To boost your retained students, you must be as efficient as possible in your efforts to genuinely engage with the students at level 4 of your funnel — Admitted, Confirmed, and Enrolled Students.
The most important question for enrolment professionals is how to boost the numbers. The answer is simple.
You can do two things to increase your enrolments, and at the same time, keep everybody at your institution happy:
You’re your targeted audience. It all boils down to knowing what types of students you want in your institution, where they are in your funnel, and how you can effectively provide the proper content at every stage.
Going down your funnel, your prospects require more and more personal communication. Therefore, we at 1702 Digital, focus our custom strategy on helping you widen the funnel by getting more prospective students and inquiries at the top.
By doing so, we effectively boost the number of students who enrol, as higher numbers at the top of the funnel often mean higher numbers at the bottom.