5 steps to improving your conversions with better messaging
The goal of any higher education marketing campaign is to convert inquiries into enrollments. Getting in front of the right people at the right time is just the beginning; you also have to share the right message. Crafting messaging that converts can feel like solving an equation with too many variables, but it’s not as difficult as it first appears.
There are many platforms on which you can share your message. These include your website, affiliate websites, social media platforms, phone, email, text and more. Although each platform has its own conventions, you’ll follow the same steps to create messaging for each one.
Here are the 5 steps to crafting messaging that converts for student enrollment:
1. Understand Your Audience
Your messaging isn’t about you, it’s about your audience. To craft effective marketing messages, you need to understand who you are talking to and what is important to them. Non-traditional students have different needs and concerns than traditional students. Graduate degree seekers may have different objectives than undergraduates. Your messaging should answer their questions and address their needs.
The best way to learn about your potential students is through data. Gather market research on what drives students to seek a degree in programs like yours. Talk to your current students about the marketing messages that worked for them.
2. Know Your Goal
Your overall goal is to turn leads into enrollments, but you should have subgoals for each message you share. When writing an email, phone script, or text message, ask yourself what you want the student to do as a result of this message. Do you want them to click a link, fill out a form, or schedule a phone call? Make sure that you’ve given them enough information to convince them to act.
At the same time, be careful not to overload any single message with too much information. Assume that the student is busy and wants you to get to the point quickly. Take out anything not directly aligned with the goal for that message. If you find yourself trying to present more than one clear concept, you should probably break the message into more than one communication. No single message needs to do all the work. Each one is part of an ongoing conversation between the institution and the potential student.
3. Craft the Message
When crafting your message, remember to follow the best practices for the platform. An email will look different from a text message even if the information conveyed is the same.
Whenever possible, address the potential student by name. Next, thank them for their time, their interest, or the action they’ve already taken. Then, give them the information they need to drive the next action.
Here’s a basic outline of an email to a lead who has expressed interest but hasn’t yet spoken to an admissions counselor:
Thank you for your interest in the MFA in Creative Writing at Some University. We would love to tell you more about our flexible, online program that has helped hundreds of students become published authors. Would you prefer to continue the conversation over the phone or by email? Let us know by responding to this message.
Notice that this message is short and to the point. It includes the name of the lead and the name of the program. The tone is warm and friendly, inviting the student to engage in a conversation. It also specifically asks the student to take an action, and lets him know what will happen once he does.
You could make this email a little longer, with more specific details about the program, but don’t get carried away. The goal is to get John to tell you how he likes to be contacted. This isn’t the place to make a big sales pitch. That can wait until he’s on the phone or you learn a little more about his needs.
One powerful way to get students to engage with you is through stories. You can talk about alumni, current students, or even a student avatar who faced the same challenges as your lead. Remember that the student should always be the hero of your story. The institution is a guide or advisor, but the student is the main character in your message.
4. Share the Message
Send messages to your leads in accordance with their preferences and your communication plan. If the lead responds right away, great. Answer their questions and keep moving them through the funnel. If they don’t respond right away, keep following up until they do, or until you’ve reached out at least seven to 10 times. After that, if the lead still isn’t responding, you can move them to a nurturing email list.
You can use mass customization strategies to decide which messages to send to which leads. True customization, writing unique messaging for each student, is time-consuming and difficult to maintain. Instead, group your leads based on shared characteristics and plan messaging relevant to each group.
5. Measure Your Results
Keep track of which messages work and which ones have room for improvement. There are dozens of key performance indicators you could measure for each message, but the most important is, of course, conversions.
More on Contact Strategy
The most effective messaging is part of a documented communication plan or contact strategy. Your plan will help inform your messaging and set the cadence for communication. Most institutions have some sort of contact strategy in place, but some are more developed than others. Improve your contact strategy by downloading our playbook: Developing a Contact Strategy for Converting Leads into Enrollments.