Admissions at higher education institutions across the country have yet to bounce back from pandemic lows. Nevertheless, millions of students are currently going through the high-stakes admissions process that will determine how the next chapter of their lives will unfold.
So what is a university's role in guiding students through this nerve-racking process? What initiatives will effectively ease their transition to college life? Moreover, what factors will tip the scales in favor of one school over another in their hearts and minds?
Students consider a school's reputation but also want a glimpse of campus life and their future peers. They also want to feel like their school cares about them as individuals, not just numbers on the bottom line. That is why supporting accepted students with a highly personalized communications strategy increases acceptance rates, and decreases melt.
Lead nurturing strategies are used to convert an accepted student into an admitted student and are usually organized into a lead nurturing funnel. As a student enters the top of the funnel by inquiring about or applying to a school, the top-, middle- and bottom-of-funnel lead nurturing tactics usher them through the process.
University marketing departments are responsible for getting as many students interested in their institution as possible. This top-of-funnel approach typically employs inbound marketing to highlight compelling elements and school statistics. Once the student shares their phone number, home address, or email with a university, that school can move the prospective student further along the admissions process.
The middle of the university marketing funnel helps students learn more about the school. Universities have much to brag about, be it their lush campuses, competitive athletics, outstanding academics, or distinguished alumni. They also have a breadth of tools to get the word out – webinars, email, direct mail, SMS text, campus tours, billboards, and high school guidance counselors. There is no shortage of ways to engage prospective students.
Getting students to apply is only the first step. The main goal of the higher education lead nurturing funnel is to encourage students to accept their admission offers. As the average number of applications submitted by each student has risen from four to twelve, competition among higher ed institutions is more significant than ever. Admissions teams need to convince students to choose their school over others. To achieve this in 2022, universities must go above and beyond the status quo and personalize their outreach to prove to students that they care.
For decades, higher education institutions have prided themselves on low acceptance rates. But perhaps low acceptance rates are not something to be proud of. Shouldn't universities be inclusive, supportive, and welcoming? Instead of being proud of how many prospective students they turn away, shouldn't the "best" universities flaunt how many accepted students actually attend their institution in the fall? The path to increasing this metric is laid by employing a lead nurturing strategy that grows enrollment numbers and then guides students through every step of the way to their first day of class.
A prospective student's social interactions are not happening where they used to. Many are leaving the traditional social behemoths and engaging with platforms such as Discord and Twitch. Some universities have already taken notice and adopted lead nurturing strategies using these new asynchronous video-based channels.
It is common for institutions to host a one- or two-day on-campus event known as 'accepted students' day'. As fun as these events are, they pose some difficulties. Travel can be a major concern for many out-of-state and international students. Furthermore, students who received several offers cannot attend multiple events simultaneously. How can schools prevent countless students from feeling left out during this pivotal step?
One powerful solution could be sending one-to-one, personal video messages to each of these students. An asynchronous video allows any student anywhere in the world to engage with a school whenever is most convenient for them. And it is no surprise that feeling included and welcomed increases the likelihood that they will attend university in the fall.
The post-secondary target market is comprised of digital natives who've grown up on the internet. Digital experiences in and of themselves are not enough to impress them. The TikTok Generation prefers short-form videos in their text messages app – not emails in inboxes they never check. (See evidence of this in our 2023 Report)
Gone are the days of automated email blasts and bots! Epsilon reports that 80% of people are more likely to convert when provided with a personalized experience. Educational institutions that adapt to the times by personalizing their communications and sending them via effective channels will quickly get ahead of the competition and see a steep rise in engagement and yield.
Getting into university is an absolutely thrilling time in students' lives. They are about to enter a new life stage and experience freedom for the first time. A strong connection can be made by sharing in their excitement! Static words in an email or brochure simply cannot capture the feeling of this moment. By contrast, an interactive video recorded by a current student can do precisely that!
In 2022 all effective digital outreach will be omni-channel by default.
To stand out from the competition, all forms of communication need to be unique and memorable. Far and away, video is the best lead nurturing medium in a digital communication toolkit. Short-form low-production videos work best because they are frictionless, fun, and authentic. They also win by engaging audiences on their own time, via their favorite device, and in their generation's medium of choice.
A modern digital toolkit is not complete without the capability to assign, record, auto moderate, and share personalized videos at scale.