Go to your site right now.
Head over to a program page – either a graduate program or a degree completion program because that’s where your adult students are.
The first question – is there a web form prominently displayed on the page, so the visitor can request information and you can capture a new lead?
Based on our research and experience, about 50% of you won’t find a form on the page. And of those that find no form, about 50% will find a button with “Request Info” that takes you to a page with an all-purpose request information form.
For those of you that found a form, fill it out and submit it. What happens once you submit the form? Do you stay on the same page and see a message where the form had been saying something along the lines of “Thanks for submitting the form – a member of our team will contact you soon”?
Or do you go to a landing page?
For those of you on a landing page, what is written on the page? A simple “Thank you”? Or maybe “Thanks for submitting the form – a member of our team will contact you soon”?
Or does your landing page display information you really want such as the ability to download PDFs addressing the program itself? And financial aid? Scholarships? Career services for graduate students? An invitation to a program-specific open house?
Alright, for those of you that submitted a form from the program page, I want you to go to your marketing team and ask them to tell you what page you were on when you submitted the form.
Why? Because they most likely can’t do it.
You should…and here’s why.
Stop using one generic form across the entire site for requesting information – and use a unique web form for each page. And make sure that each form has its own unique landing page. Oh, and then make sure that there is a unique auto-responder email.
Shorter web form means more submissions. Since the form is now coded to the page/program, you can remove the “Select your program of interest” question. If it’s the form on BSN or MAT or MBA program page(s), you know that’s what they are interested in.
Faster delivery of relevant information. Once submitted, you send them to the program-specific landing page where they have immediate access to the information you normally send to them in the first few days. For example, your program specific landing page allows then to click and download the program PDF and a financial aid factsheet while watching a short video featuring current students in the program, recent graduates of the program, select faculty and staff as well as few local business leaders that employ students and/or graduates of the program.
Sure beats “Thanks for submitting the form – a member of our team will contact you soon”!
Auto-responder email is more relevant too! This is one that drives us crazy because the typical auto-responder email – the first outbound communication you are sending to this brand-new inquiry – is going to tell them absolutely nothing of value.
We’ve seen auto-responders tell the recipient that they should “check out the website for additional information.”
Are you kidding? They were on the site when they realized they needed to request information! At the very least, recommend that they go to a specific page on the site to learn more about why your institution is uniquely valuable to them!
You could use the email to get them to follow you on social media – especially if the program has its own social media presence. For example, if the program has a Group on LinkedIn, invite them to join and meet (network) students, alumni, faculty, and staff.
Another suggestion is to use the auto-responder to get more information from them that helps you qualify and prioritize them. And this can have a significant impact on your ability to increase enrollments because you use this information to determine what to do next.
For example, adults will return to college for a variety of reasons and they will have a variety of wants and needs that must be addressed before they will make their decision to apply and enroll. A short survey can help you uncover their motivation for returning to college and what is their most important want and need. That insight drives your next action as well as messaging and offers!
“What’s in it for them?” The last recommendation is your writing style. On the site, the landing page and in the emails – focus on benefits to the reader rather than features like “flexible” and “convenient” and “AACSB Accredited”.
Tell them how they will save time, money, sanity.
Special accreditation is probably the most under-utilized asset so let’s use that as an example. Most adults will ask “Do you have the program I want?”, “How much is it?” and “How long will it take to graduate?”
A few will ask “Are you accredited?” And if they hear “Yes”, they’re happy.
Most don’t understand accreditation – and now there is specialized accreditation! What’s that?
Tell them what the specialized accreditation means for them. How it makes them unique in a crowded job market. How it helps them master skills that help them stand out from co-workers and colleagues.
What do you think – a little different approach to how you capture data and how you communicate can have a significant impact on your ability to enroll a larger number of adults.
And with the above recommendations in place, you’re responding faster with the more relevant information for the adult which puts you in a perfect place to win them over.
Please share your thoughts in the comments section – or feel free to contact us if you have any questions.
Follow the above recommendations, and you get to segment by want and need – which means a much more relevant and valuable communication stream for the prospective student and a higher potential to motivate enrollments.
Typically, segmentation is by the program, but the messaging quickly turns to a steady stream of financial aid, career services, testimonials, invitation to open houses. Once those topics have been addressed, it’s key dates and “click here to start your online application.”
But if they want more details on [ex] financial aid, the process explained above allows you to go deeper until the topic has been addressed to the satisfaction of the prospective student.
Are you designing your emails so that they work on all types of devices and email clients? If not, you better start now because Millennials and Gen Z are opening their emails on mobile devices.
And when you create web forms, remember that your audience is probably on a mobile device so keep it short and simple.
You should always be testing subject lines and offers and copy and your calls to action so that you can continuously learn and improve. Testing can easily help you increase response rates, applications, and enrollments – so make sure you have a plan to test all the time!
The most common problem we see with emails is that they turn into long and confusing attempts to deliver multiple messages and offers. Keep it simple. If you can motivate the recipient to do one thing, you won. So, focus on getting them to do the next important thing in your recruitment process.
That might be calling you. Or providing more information through an online survey. Or downloading a checklist. Watching a video.
But when you send a 1,000-word email with 5 links/calls to action, you are going to overwhelm the reader and when you overwhelm the reader, they tend to walk away without doing one thing.
If you have questions about how this information impacts your email and nurturing efforts, contact us – we’re happy to help. And if you’re wondering what services we offer that can be of value, check out our email marketing services or, if you think your needs are more than email, check out SalesGen 2020. Both offer tremendous returns for your investment.