Lead Nurturing for Higher Education
All universities and higher education institutes have a lead nurturing strategy in place.
Everyone realizes that having more leads does not necessarily result in higher enrolments.
What is important then is to generate good quality leads, and to nurture those leads effectively. Strategies that empower personalization at scale and relevant, timely communication, i.e. saying the right things at the right time to the right audience, are crucial to a university’s success.
In this blog post, we have attempted to collate a few best practices that we have picked up from our interactions with universities and institutes from across the globe, and from our interactions with students who are looking at studying overseas.
As marketeers we acknowledge that each prospect has different needs, and hence requires different kind of information at different stages of the enrolment funnel.
When we ignore these differences and send the same message to our entire lead bank, many of those leads tend to go cold.
Why lead nurturing is especially important in higher education?
For starters, education is a high touch, high engagement service. Students consider multiple variables, interact with different stakeholders and read different information sources, even before submitting an inquiry on a university’s website. In many families the decision to apply is taken collectively, by a student and his/her parents and/or guardians. This practice is more prevalent in South Asian countries and even more so, for undergraduate enrolments.
We need to ask ourselves; what can we do to engage with students, with parents, with influencers like counselors, current students, alumni and the industry? What can we say to convey our core values; which platform is best suited to convey that message; will recipients interpret the message correctly?
A robust lead nurturing strategy results in higher brand engagement, more conversions, more enrolments and possibly, an uptick in referrals. Referrals as we know is largely dependent on a student’s overall experience at and with a university.
Lead nurturing segments stakeholders in to different buckets and allows us to adopt a more personalized approach to engage with these stakeholders. When implemented correctly, it can result in a reduced cost per incremental lead and a higher conversion rate.
Using Student Personas can be especially useful; a persona helps help you understand students better and allows you craft, relevant, personalized messages.
Universities need a bank of lead nurturing tools, and a clear strategy that guides them as to which tool should be used when, and for whom.
Implementing a lead nurturing strategy
Consider the points listed below and deliberate at each stage. Every institute is unique, and can tailor a lead nurturing strategy that meets its unique needs.
Segment your audience: Analyse your audience and segment them into groups based on commonalities. This will help you identify topics that represent their interests and motivations.
Prioritize Personalisation: Emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened than those without.
Use multi-channel marketing: A cohesive strategy is required to ensure that messaging is consistent across all channels. The tone and voice of your communication, the visual cues you use for your brand, and the personality that you create, should be consistent and clear. Students are present on multiple channels, and it helps if they interpret the brand in the right way.
Implement lead scoring: Defining ‘key actions’ and assigning a score to each action, can enable a university to distinguish prospective students from those with a casual interest.
Use drip marketing: This allows you to stay in touch with students without being too pushy. It encourages users to take specific actions at the right time.
Power of Video
Videos are one of the most powerful tools that universities can use to engage with students, create deeper connections and attract prospective students. Gen-Z are digital natives and super-connected. They are online most of the time and stream video content for roughly 23 hours each week.
Institutes can include videos for campus tours, campus events, program explainer videos, alumni success stories and branding. Live Q&A sessions are very helpful in addressing queries and concerns that students may have.
A comprehensive video marketing strategy is essential for long term and short-term success.
While lead generation is important as the first step, lead nurturing is integral to converting those leads and getting students on board. An effective lead nurturing strategy can help you communicate better, and results in higher engagement and conversion rates.
Higher education institutes can use a plethora of tools such as campus events, blogs, emailers, newsletters, branded freebies, animate videos and many more.
Personalized content, drip marketing and lead scoring can be incorporated into your lead nurturing strategy and can help you reach your desired goals.