Help! Our Prospects Keep Ghosting Us.
You had interested prospective students and parents–where did they go?
On average, it takes five points of communication before a family decides that you are the right school for them and take action, such as filling out an admissions application. For many independent schools, typically parents first interaction with you is online, like filling out an inquiry form, your odds of keeping their attention throughout your school’s entire application process are 21 times greater when you follow up within 5 minutes than when you follow up 30 minutes later. 30 minutes doesn’t sound like a long time, but in a hyper-connected, always-on world, it’s an eternity.
But where are you supposed to get the time to write all those emails? You’ve got to return phone calls from parents, build a high-mission fit recruitment strategy, schedule family visits, arrange entrance exams, hire and train staff, and isn’t there a department meeting later this afternoon?
Enter lead nurturing.
Keeping Up with The Joneses (and the Walkers and the Zhangs)
Lead nurturing can help you build relationships with all your prospective families at once without losing the personal touch.
What in the world is Lead nurturing?
Lead nurturing is a communication plan that can help you engage parents by providing the information they’re most interested in at the time they’re most likely to be looking for it. So if you have the Joneses, whose son is excited about your school’s music program, and the Walkers, whose daughter wants to battle her way onto your Academic Decathlon team that made nationals last year, and the Zhangs, who want their kids to grow up with their Christian values at your Holy Cross-run school, you can start following up as soon as they submit their inquiry form, or the night they attend an open house, with your admissions and enrollment CRM via email that addresses their most important reason for being interested in your school.
It might look like this:
Notice the explicit encouragement to take the next step, in this case fill out an application. Parents who are genuinely interested are still much less likely to actually apply if they are at a loss for what to do next.
We’re all busy, and it’s always tempting to just knock out the easy tasks first. That’s great news for you, because it means if you can make applying one of the easy things, completing the application becomes even more of a priority.
Imagine Lilly Zhang takes the next step and clicks the link to fill out the application, while Caleb Walker and Maria Jones do not. Two weeks have gone by, and you’re getting concerned they’ve forgotten about you, or have applied at another independent school, or they just aren’t sure about you yet.
Let’s bring them back.
Mr. Walker and Mrs. Jones each get a new email.
This time you get an answer! Mrs. Jones is concerned about being able to afford tuition. When she clicks the corresponding link, she is directed to a page on your website with detailed information about your school’s financial aid options. At the bottom of the page, there is a link to begin the financial aid application process. She clicks the link and fills out the form.
Mr. Walker’s biggest concern is making sure he’s giving his daughter the best chance of getting into the college she wants to go to. When he clicks the button, he’s taken to a page of your school’s website that lays out your graduates’ admission rates to the Ivies, universities with strong reputations in particular majors and research fields, and the students’ first-choice schools.
At the bottom of the page is an APPLY NOW button. He clicks it and fills out the application.
Now you’re 2 for 3! Let’s go for the full sweep.
Did Mrs. Jones Forget Something?
Mrs. Jones filled out the financial aid application, but you notice on your list of draft applicants that she still hasn’t completed the admissions application she started. For this case, and for parents who start filling out the admissions application but never finish, there’s a nurturing technique. We call this preventing abandonment.
Mrs. Jones gets a new email:
Mrs. Jones has questions! But once you get her on the phone with the invitation to contact you in the signature of this email, she gets her questions answered and fills out the admissions application for her son.
But Who Has Time for That?
Send personalized emails to all the parents who expressed an interest in your school? Who has time? You still have to run that campus tour!
That’s where the automation comes in from your admissions and enrollment CRM. An automated communication plan can take almost all the manual work out of keeping in touch with families through the application process, with messages that you write once and then send automatically to parents who take or don’t take a certain action, such as leaving you their email address in an inquiry form, selecting a particular academic or athletic interest, or not completing the application process within a certain amount of time.
Your template might look something like this:
Schools making use of nurture streams are increasing admissions while saving hundreds of man-hours on routine tasks, freeing their admissions professionals to have deeper one-on-one interactions with students and families.
Interested in learning more about how you can create and apply an automated nurture stream at your school? Click here to get started with creating your own customized communication plan.
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