Imagine a prospective college student just set out on a search for the right institution. This student isn’t yet ready to sit down with an admissions counselor, apply for financial aid, or even visit the school. And yet too often, higher education admissions marketers only provide late stage offers to prospective students visiting their websites. Students looking for other information like academic programs or even just an interactive map will quickly cross a school off their list if it doesn’t provide the information they want and/or need.
School marketers should closely consider the key mistakes higher education admissions offices and websites often make when it comes to attracting prospective students. Taking steps to remedy these mistakes can help boost enrollment.
1. Don’t Ignore the Top of the Funnel
Admissions appointments, placement tests, financial aid applications, campus visits — all these valuable marketing tools occur at the end of the marketing funnel when prospective students have already narrowed down their school options to just a handful. At this point, you’ve already made the cut.
The top of the funnel, though, is a critical marketing juncture. This is where higher education admission offices and marketers can capture the undecided student. Students at this level of the funnel just want basic information so they can start making a short list.
According to the 2011 E-Expectations Report on the online expectations of prospective college students and their parents, 38% of prospective students first look for information on academic programs. Students need to know if the school even offers their desired program of study. A student isn’t likely to want to contact an admissions officer if she can’t even figure out if she could even attend the school.
2. Don’t Make “Assumicide” About Application Readiness
Not every student is ready to apply to a school the first time they access your site. Many factors contribute to a student’s readiness to apply for school. Finances, family needs, work priorities, fear — all these could affect when a student applies for college. But just because a student doesn’t apply the first time he/she accesses your site doesn’t mean a student isn’t interested in your school. Higher education admission offices must recognize these students are testing the waters and will probably apply for admission eventually.
At this juncture for undecided students, school marketers should begin to build a relationship of trust and credibility, and help prospective students feel like they are a part of the school even before they apply.
The vast majority of prospective students just want the basic information about a school. They want to know about majors, locations, student life, cost, and scholarships. They’re testing the waters and building their criteria for choosing which schools to contact further. Higher education admissions offices should provide as much of the right kind of information as the can including programs of study, what makes each program unique, and information about careers and salary. If your university provides all the information a student needs, perhaps they won’t go looking elsewhere.
4. Don’t Miss Out on Growing Your List
Another key takeaway from the E-Expectations Report is that 93% of prospective students will provide their email address to a school. This provides a crucial opportunity to grow a prospective student email list and then nurture and build that relationship. Through this email list, you can provide prospective students with:
- General Information
- Deadline Reminders
- Information About Student Status
- Campus Life News
School marketers must earn those opportunities to provide late stage offers to prospective students. Providing content and educational information at the top of the marketing funnel will help you catch an essential prospective student audience. Build a relationship with a prospective student and draw them down the funnel and ultimately, to your institution.
- 5 Website Conversion Tactics to Boost College Enrollment (hubspot.com)
- How You Should Judge Colleges: What Students Should Look For: Admissions Plans (education.com)
- What Do Selective Colleges Look for in an Applicant? The Academic Record (education.com)
- Students are missing out on university places because they are not being supported by their schools (educationwales.wordpress.com)
- Five Purposes of Higher Education (siobhancurious.com)
- College Success 101 – Class is in Session! (kathrynspeaks.wordpress.com)
- Letters: Risks of a market in higher education (guardian.co.uk)