By William Bullard
Part I: Strategic overview – best suited for Heads of School and senior admission and communications leaders. Part II of the post covers the tactics of building, sending, and tracking these targeted campaigns and is ideal for senior admission and communications leaders and their staffs.
Strategic enrollment management is increasingly seen as the key term for a broad range of a school’s admission, retention, and other growth-related programs. A key component under this umbrella is enrollment marketing, which first focuses on increasing interest and applications to your school and then on “nurturing” prospective families throughout the admission process.
With schools facing looming economic and demographic challenges, it is more critical than ever to optimize your marketing strategy and spending on enrollment management. The front end of this method has received significant attention with tools such as sophisticated image audits from groups including Baltimore Research and Mike Connor Associates followed by multi-channel marketing campaigns. However, maximizing your acceptance rate by creating automated personalized touches with potential constituents has not been as carefully examined.
The initial recruitment phase of enrollment marketing can be broken into five parts. First, clarify your strategic marketing goals; second, define your target audience; third, select the appropriate marketing channels; fourth, create the message for the appropriate segment and channel; and fifth, execute the campaigns and measure the results. Each of these steps is substantive and worthy of its own analysis, but for our purposes, the summary will suffice.
The second “nurturing” phase of enrollment marketing has three primary goals: developing a closer relationship between prospective students and families and your school; qualifying the prospects by tracking their interest; and improving the efficiency of your admission office. In sum, this involves sending emails with personalized information to each prospect from the first interaction through the decision to attend the school. This approach augments the personal attention shown by admission officers to each prospective student and family by creating an ongoing but crisp electronic dialogue based on their interests, with the relevance of that content being paramount. Ideally, most of these “touches” can be tracked, so they not only strengthen your school’s connection with these potential students, but also enable you to gauge their interest in you. This in turn helps busy admission people determine where to focus their attention during the critical home stretch.
Does your school do any form of “lead nurturing” outside of phone calls? Please feel free to comment below.
William Bullard is a strategic marketer who spent the majority of his career in the business world before moving into education. He has been the director of communications at two independent schools in greater Boston as well as a social media consultant for a leading literacy training company. He is especially interested in applying lessons from his early-stage work in direct marketing, the Internet, and digital marketing to schools. William is a strategic partner for Kalix Communications, focusing on digital and data-driven marketing, and is open to expanding his marketing consulting with other school clients.