Student Prospecting: Quality over Quantity


By: Christopher Tashjian May 11, 2016

The student prospecting of colleges and universities can be characterized as competitive, traditionally defining success of lead generation campaigns by the number of prospective students they acquire. However, as the profile of the prospective student continues to changes, defining what success is in enrollment marketing management also needs to evolve. It’s important that colleges and universities are working with an adequate quantity of prospects. But for enrollment professionals, the quality of the student prospect being generated has taken priority over quantity. As a result, enrollment professionals can no longer be passive recipients of lead generation campaigns or inquiries by prospective students. They must take proactive and innovative approaches to their recruitment strategies to be sure that they are matriculating the country’s top students.

Click Here to Learn 11 Ways to Convert Prospective Students into Enrollments

There are a few important ways that enrollment professionals at some of the leading colleges and universities are working to ensure that the quality of enrollments far surpasses the quantity of prospects. In these efforts, they understand one fundamental principle in leads generation: not all leads are created equal. Quality of a lead or prospect is determined in two simple ways:

1. The mindset of the individual

2. The process the individual followed before making an inquiry to a particular college or university How can enrollment professionals ensure that quality takes priority over quantity while meeting institutional enrollment goals?  I’ve spent the last few years learning some of the enrollment secrets of Enrollment Professionals from the country’s most successful colleges and universities. Here are a few:

Seek educated prospects

What are educated prospects? Educated prospects will have a specific reason for an inquiry, having been informed by a college or university’s specific characteristics that set it apart from the competition. Educated prospects are the ones who have been thoughtfully engaged in the prospecting process and provided relevant information about how an institution can meet their interests, learning needs and career goals.

What educated prospects are not. They are not prospects who have stopped by a booth at a recruitment fair and gave their email address in order to be entered into a drawing to win an iPad.

In a recent student prospecting report issued by LinkedIn, today’s students are more empowered in the university selection process than even before. This signifies an overall shift away from passive to more active engagement with potential colleges and universities.

Effective enrollment marketing professionals should strive to meet this level of empowerment by educating prospects before the point of inquiry and also working to evolve with the needs of their prospects. Working with publishers, advertisers, and vendors who accurately represent your institution to prospects will ensure the continuous recruitment of quality prospects that lead to enrollments.  

Use inquiry forms wisely

When designing the forms that prospective students will use to inquire about your institution, pay close attention to the quality of questions asked. There are two important principles when designing your inquiry form:

1.  Ask questions that aim to filter those prospects that do not meet your institution’s admission requirements. This will ensure your time is spent pursuing only the high-quality and most qualified prospects.

2. Each question you add to an inquiry form reduces the probability that the prospect will complete and submit the form. This means that every question on the inquiry form needs to be crafted carefully to ensure a) that the potential student stays engaged and b) that you retrieve the most necessary information in order to prioritize the pursuit of that lead.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew

Before designing an enrollment marketing strategy for lead generation, it’s important to consider the capacity you have for enrollment services at your institution. Designing effective strategies to attract the most educated and highest quality prospects will only be productive if you have enough enrollment managers, counselors, and coordinators at your institution to handle the influx of quality leads.

The colleges and universities leading enrollment marketing prospecting are equipped to meet incoming inquiries with a response within 24 hours.

If your capacity to follow up does not match the number of prospects coming in, you’re essentially paying for prospects that could prove to be unworkable. If you are finding your capacity to follow up is lagging behind the number of prospects you are generating, there are effective ways that you can revisit lower priority prospects to ensure that you are not losing their interests. This may include methods such as hiring a contact center or developing DRIP campaigns.

In short, make sure your enrollment marketing strategy is designed to match what your institution can handle.

Having a well-devised and effective inquiry and enrollment strategy is crucial for successfully matriculating high-quality students through your programs.