Private and independent schools across the country are already starting to think about how they’re going to recruit students for the coming school year. But before you can see an increase in your school’s yield, you’ll need to fill the top of your admissions funnel. With lead nurturing you can count on even more inquiries that turn into applicants and enrolled students than past years.
Many parents searching for the perfect private school for their children will put your school at the top of their list. But even though they’re interested, they’re not yet committed. You’ve got to put your school’s best foot forward to keep their attention and turn your inquiries into applications.
But how do you do that?
On average, you need to have five touchpoints with a family before they’re ready to take the next step and fill out an application.
You have plenty to manage without the added task of sending an individual email response to each and every inquiry or trying to track your follow-up calls in a disorganized and often forgotten spreadsheet. That manual and tedious labor is overwhelming. And quite frankly, inefficient.
However, there is a better way to stay top of mind with prospective students and reduce the work required to keep up with these touchpoints: lead nurturing.
What Is Lead Nurturing?
Lead nurturing is the process of developing and building relationships with your families at every stage of the admissions funnel with the goal of getting more inquiries fully enrolled at your school for the coming school year.
Lead nurturing relies on using an automated communication plan. It can be an incredibly effective marketing strategy for private K-12 schools since it helps you engage with parents at the most crucial times. With lead nurturing, you can ensure you provide families with the information they’re most interested in at the exact time they’re looking for it.
Using the information you gather at the inquiry stage, you’re able to create touchpoints that are both personal and informative. Your touchpoints can include automated emails, a reminder for a school employee to call a family regarding specific financial aid options, or a prompt to mail a viewbook or lookbook to the family. Each of these is a key moment of outreach that you can design to keep your school top-of-mind for families.
Moving Inquiries to Applicants
In order to communicate with inquiries and help them move towards applying, you’ll want to actively stay in touch. You can provide more information about the school, send them information surrounding their personal interests, invite them to an upcoming event, and even remind them about the upcoming application deadline to create a sense of urgency.
Here’s an example of a communication plan you could use to respond to inquiries:
Automated communication plans allow you to create a cadence of touchpoints that are personalized to the needs and interests of each family interested in your school.
They give you the best of both worlds by allowing you to combine automated tasks (like an auto-triggered email when an application is started) with internal reminders to reach out more personally. Internal reminders can help your team participate in highly personalized activities throughout the admissions process.
Reminders can be sent to nudge you to make a phone call to a prospective family or send a handwritten note and swag to students who have shown interest in your school.
One important thing to note and include in your communication plan is that each touchpoint should prompt families to take another step forward- and ultimately lead them to fill out your application.
Remember, you want to make it a pleasant and simple experience to apply at your school. To make it as easy as possible for parents, include a call to action–or CTA–in every email. At this stage in the admissions journey, you’ll likely want your CTA to be a link or reminder to apply at every touch-point.
Turning Applications Into Enrollments
You put in a lot of work to get your inquiries to the application point, but there’s still more to be done. Now you need to track and manage students moving through the admissions process.
One risk schools face at this point is “application abandonment.” You know this story all too well. Many parents who successfully submitted their application (and may have even paid their application fee), don’t finish the rest of the admission process and therefore can’t be officially accepted at your school.
Online checklists can be a huge help in these situations to make it easier for parents to see what needs to be done. Another way to drive success: having a plan set in place to prompt parents to complete the next steps in the admissions process and help them finish the necessary steps.
Here’s an example of an admissions communication plan your school could set up:
Every touchpoint with your families in this stage should include positive language explaining your school’s excitement to welcome this new student. You should also make it clear what the next steps to take are. Parents and students at this point are eager to become part of your school’s story, it’s your job to build on that and make them feel welcome. This season of applying and families anticipating enrollment is the perfect time to showcase your testimonials, quotes, or videos. Having third party validation can not only help them make their ultimate decision, but it’s also a great way to help them see themselves at your school.
Making Good Investments With Your Limited Time
With lead nurturing you can count on even more inquiries becoming fully enrolled students than in past years. It also takes the manual work out of keeping in touch, which creates a better experience for your families and frees you up to take care of other pressing tasks
Developing a lead nurturing strategy will save you hours of work in the long run. Manually creating and logging each touchpoint–like every phone call, email, and text message– is exhausting and inefficient. With an automated communication plan, you can create nurture streams to send a personalized and relevant message to each of your families at key points in their enrollment journey. Another way to say it: lead nurturing helps you send the right message, to the right people, at the right time.
Developing a solid lead nurturing strategy using automated communication plans can keep you organized, move families through the admissions funnel, and help you develop stronger relationships at every stage of the admissions process. Not only will you save time, but you’ll also be able to increase your yield by building deeper connections to ultimately meet your enrollment and retention goals.
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