Higher education institutions are not all the same and neither are their prospects for that matter. As the higher ed space continues to become saturated, the harder and more essential it becomes for higher ed marketers to recruit and communicate effectively with their “ideal” prospects.
Similar to other transactions in our modern digital and information age, marketers have mere moments to capture their prospects’ attention. More often than not, these fleeting interactions are happening online and through digital media. Prospects expect a personalized conversation and content, yet aren’t having the face-to-face or phone dialogue once necessary for one.
Higher ed institutions are meeting their enrollee’s expectations with the help of customer relationship management (CRM) systems and marketing automation platforms. Just as the name implies these information systems work to garner relationships with prospects by gaining relevant data on prospects to help marketers customize and automate their communications.
How does this exactly work? CRM and marketing automation is a sophisticated (and essential) tool for tracking your prospects interactions with your various marketing initiatives, including emails, landing pages, forms, and more. So you can see who is most interested, what resonates best and what falls flat.
The more your prospects interact with your content the higher your chances are of capturing information about them, and the higher your chances are that a prospect will fill out a form. Think of the last time you downloaded a whitepaper, e-book, or guide – you likely provided your contact information and perhaps answered a question or two on your goals, challenges, size of business, or budget. This approach can also be used to vet and prioritize prospects.
Once vetted, marketers can monitor their engagement with prospects to ultimately continue the prospect journey through the sales funnel.
Generic informational emails are no longer effective to prospects or to institutions, and could potentially do more harm than good. Are you wasting resources on the wrong approach?
Messages should be personalized and pertain to your audience’s interest. As well as sent at the appropriate time, during the applicable customer stage. When a CRM and marketing automation platform is implemented correctly marketers can do just that.
Here are 5 ways to get your CRM and marketing automation platform in place to increase recruitment and qualify enrollees for your institution.
1. Tailor contact properties
Most platforms allow you to set up custom contact properties relevant to your institution. For instance, program interest, application year, degree level, location, etc. Customize these properties and include them in your form fields to gain more insight into your prospective enrollees.
Designate unique values to various attributes like opening an email, clicking a link, or visiting a certain webpage. Rank the contact properties that fit your “ideal” applicant higher. The culmination of the values should indicate the lead score. The higher the lead score, the more valuable the prospect (aka potential enrollee). Having a lead scoring system in place can help you keep better track of those high-value prospects.
2. Customize emails and messaging
Build out lists based on the contact properties and lead scores that fit your customized campaigns. Prospects are more likely to engage with a message that directly relates to their interests.
A/B test your subject lines, copy, or CTAs to see what performs best with your audience.
3. Automate marketing
Set emails to send after certain user actions, like downloading a resource, watching a webinar, or signing up for an information session. Catching your audience’s attention when they’re most captive can help you continue the conversation and move them further through the customer journey to enrollment.
Incorporating drip email marketing campaigns (aka workflows) allows you to set up a sequence of email communications to automatically send when your prospects meet a specified criterion saving you time.
4. Optimize landing pages
Are you hosting an information session, webinar, or offering a whitepaper? Build and design campaign-specific landing pages in your platform to track your prospects activity and interactions on those pages. This is also a very useful tool when optimizing landing pages for paid social or search campaigns.
Read More: Biggest Search Marketing Mistakes Explained
5. Create custom forms
Create custom forms on your landing pages and website to capture your prospects information and to qualify them. Use questions to better understand who your audience is and what they’re looking for. This will help you vet perspective students and tailor the conversation.
As the competition in higher ed grows, students have more choices in where they can go. To be considered, you must view prospective students as customers and personalize their experience.
By using these platforms properly, you can eliminate the need for a face-to-face or phone call interaction. Instead, you learn about your prospects through your digital media. Honing in on your “ideal” enrollees and engaging with them through the funnel. So, whether you’re looking to acquire more students in a certain location, with a GPA level, or for a program? A CRM and marketing automation platform can help streamline the process.
Hear what other higher ed marketers are implementing this year in our pre-recorded 2018 State of Higher Ed Digital Marketing webinar.
Stephanie Smith is a Digital Engagement Strategist who relishes in crafting content that is exciting and educational. When she’s not creating buyer personas, journeys, and digital assets you can find her scouting local happenings, places to eat, and events online. After all, digital is best way to stay in the know!