For my clients who are looking to improve and automate their enrollment, I always recommend that they invest in a CRM system. My
friends at Enquiry Tracker have put together what I think is the best CRM
system designed specifically for schools. I asked them to write a post talking about how schools can improve their enrollment. I
hope you enjoy - Nick
The Ten Golden Rules to Increase Enrollment
On the surface, it may seem that education and marketing don’t have a lot in common. After all, education is about expanding minds and helping children reach their potential. Marketing is about selling stuff.
However, the fact is that without good marketing, many schools would cease to exist. Every empty desk represents one less child you can teach, and often, one less opportunity to keep your school economically solvent in the years to come.
If your school is going to not just survive but actually thrive, you must attract a steady new stream of students, day after day, year after year. And that’s where marketing comes in.
Of course, schools have limited time and resources. That’s why we came up with these 10 Golden Rules that are designed to maximize any school’s marketing efforts from a family’s first visit to your website through their ultimate enrollment and beyond.
Golden Rule #1: Understand the Primary Goal of Your Website
Every school has a website, but too few schools have a good idea of how to optimize it. Too often, websites are constructed with current families in mind, which is a mistake. You already have a multitude of ways to communicate with current families. The primary goal of your website it to appeal to prospective families who might be checking you out for the first, and maybe only, time.
Of course, impressing a prospective family isn’t enough. The next and arguably more important step is to capture that family’s contact information so you can follow up with them – and the way you do this is with web forms.
That’s why, when we built Enquiry Tracker, we were determined to make it easy for schools to create web forms designed to capture exactly that crucial contact information. Whether it’s a pop up form where families can request information or a sign up form for a tour, you need to make it as fast and easy as possible for your prospective families to let you know who they are.
With these simple forms, your website will suddenly be turned from a passive repository of information to an active generator of the leads you need – that’s the primary goal of your website.
Golden Rule #2: Use a Centralized Database to Store Leads
Schools are awash with data. From test scores to teacher evaluations, schools use data to learn, grow, and improve. All of this is possible, because that data is tracked and stored in a centralized location.
The data about prospective families is no different., Unless the data is in one central place, it’s no good to you. Enquiry Tracker logs and tracks this all of this data automatically in one place, easily accessible and easy to use.
Golden Rule #3: Know Where Your Leads Are Coming From
On the one hand, it doesn’t really matter if a new prospective family finds your school through your website or if they just walk in off the street. If the family is a great fit for your school, who cares how they get there, right? WRONG!.
If you want to maximize the efficiency of your marketing efforts, knowing the source of your leads matters. A lot.
At Enquiry Tracker, we’ve analyzed over 80,000 school lead records and learned that a whopping 94% of all leads are generated from a school’s website. Whether it’s from website forms or event registrations, the overwhelming majority of leads come to schools through their website: so, it’s obvious where you should focus your recruiting efforts.
Golden Rule #4: Make Key Inquiry Forms Prominent on Your Website
If web forms through your website are your top lead generator, it’s time to make sure you’re using them to their full effect!
Don’t make visitors search through obscure menus and tabs to figure out how to give you their information. Someone visiting your website should know super-quick how to register for an event, request a brochure, book a personal tour, or make an inquiry in just a few clicks. It has to be obvious.
Remember, the purpose of the website is to capture information from your visitors, so do yourself and them a favor and make these web forms as prominent as possible.
Golden Rule #5: Ask the Right Questions on Your Web Forms
Based on our experience helping schools gather data, we’ve narrowed down the right questions to 7 key pieces of information that you need to capture above all else. The first 6 concern who your potential student is, and how to follow up with the family in the future:
- Student’s Name
- Year of Entry
- Current Grade
- Parents’ Names
- Phone Number
You will have opportunities to round out your portrait of this student in the future, but for now, these six data points are what you need.
The seventh key piece of information is about you. Always ask:
“How did you hear about our school?”
Remember, knowing where your leads are coming from is essential, and the best way to find out is to ask.
Golden Rule #6: Follow Up with Relevant Personalized Communication in a Timely Manner
Remember, the goal is to turn prospective families into enrolled students.
So, it’s essential that you follow up on every communication you receive, and always include a call to action.
That means every email a family sends to you gets a personalized response, and every email you send to a family has a purpose – every time. Don’t just remind a family when their tour is going to be, include a link to add the event to their calendar. Don’t just thank a family for visiting, send them a survey asking for feedback.
If you think this adds up to a lot of emails, it does, but it’s worth it. We don’t think many schools out there are willfully neglecting to respond to inquiries, but with a dedicated, automated system like Enquiry Tracker, the job of following up with families becomes manageable.
Golden Rule #7: Treat All Families as Individuals
Even if your communication is automated, it still needs to have a personal touch. In fact, it’s actually easier to personalize your communication with an automated system as opposed to responding to each message individually.
Why? Because with an automated system that Enquiry Tracker offers you can leverage the data you’ve collected and target families with different messages based on different criteria.
For example, some families would love to attend your school’s musical while other would prefer a football game. Knowing a student’s interest allows you to target your pitches directly to them.
Similarly, many schools send endless emails inviting families to come on tours. However, if the family has already been on a tour, those messages are wasted, worse, they’re annoying. It’s time to shift your messaging towards the next steps, like submitting an application for enrollment.
Golden Rule #8: Leverage Your Best Brand Asset - Your Students
You can boast all you want about your new robotics lab and swimming pool, but when families visit your school, what are they looking at? Your students. Are they engaged? Are they happy? Does this feel like a community where my child will thrive?
The most effective way to show off your students at their best is to actively involve them in your recruitment process as ambassadors for your school. Give students specific jobs such as signing families in for a Tour, showing them around on the Tour, and encouraging them to ask prospective students about their interests. Not only will this demonstrate just how personable and helpful your students are, it’ll also give you valuable information you can then use to personalize your communication with families.
At Enquiry Tracker, we’re such huge fans of these interactions that we created a tablet-based tool that allows students to easily check families in to events and record their interests at the same time. Not only do families appreciate how easy this makes the process, but students find the technology to be pretty darn cool!
Golden Rule #9: Listen to Your Most Important People
It’s very difficult to get past our own assumptions and biases about ourselves.
So, if you want to know what prospective families really think of your school, you have to ask them, utilizing a simple survey question like:
“On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend our school to a friend?”
Again, this is the kind of hard data that every school should have as a benchmark. This is called an NPS or Net Promotor Score. If you are not doing them, then you definitely should. You need to know how you are doing if you are going to improve. If you need some assistance in crafting a survey, Bright Minds Marketing can help.
Golden Rule #10: Analyze the Data to Make Informed Decisions
Let’s put it all together. Every interaction with every family produces data. At first, this data might feel like a bunch of empty fields on a computer screen, but over time, the information you collect will give you a complete picture not just of your leads, but of your own processes as well.
Simply put, schools need a tool to track and analyze their enrollment data in order to learn what’s working, what’s not, and how to improve.
This is why we built Enquiry Tracker.
With Enquiry Tracker, the ability to capture, access, evaluate, and learn from all the interactions you have with prospective families allows you to gain the insights of the best marketing professionals without having to become marketing professionals yourselves. We want you to be able to devote your precious time and resources to educating, while still ensuring that your school will have the new students it needs to thrive.
At the end of the day, you’re not just looking for students to fill empty desks. You’re hoping to connect with families who are going to become members of your community and ultimately grow into your biggest fans.
These 10 Golden Rules will get you there.
We’ve also put together this 30 minute video that goes over this in even more detail
Antony Capitelli - CEO and CoFounder
Enquiry Tracker, (AUS & USA)
Antony is an entrepreneur and marketing exec with extensive experience in all aspects of marketing and product management, in the high-tech software industry. Most recently he was SVP Marketing at Planet Labs, a satellite company that images the entire earth everyday. Prior experience is in similar roles across a variety of larger public companies from Silicon Valley giants including Apple and Adobe to startups. His mission is about building scaleable products that are not just about solving problems but are fun to use. Which is one of the key reasons he co-founded Enquiry Tracker.