Often, colleges and universities’ marketing teams celebrate an initial student inquiry as if the job is done, assuming that once your marketing has caught a student’s attention and he or she has requested more information, your admissions department will take the baton and the full responsibility for guiding him or her toward enrollment. This is categorically untrue – which is good news for colleges and universities willing to put in the work to keep prospective students engaged.

Recently, Google partnered with Ipsos to run a seven-month study tracking and revisiting thousands of prospective students through the process of researching, choosing and enrolling in a school. Their findings proved today’s path to enrollment is increasingly complex, nuanced and extensive. Moreover, they suggest that the schools keeping students most engaged after they’ve submitted an inquiry and gone into the admissions funnel are most likely to eventually enroll that student. 

According to the study, 88% of prospective students take at least six months to make a decision on where to enroll, and 54% of prospective students take more than seven months. What is happening over that span of time to influence the student’s decision-making process?

Google told the story of one such prospect – a 35-year-old single mother seeking a business degree. Over the six week period after beginning her research, she completed 132 Google EDU searches, 764 school website page visits, 116 job and financial aid page visits, 1903 video page visits and 76 social page visits. That’s more than 3,000 digital touchpoints in just six weeks.

Let’s say she then filled out requests for information at three colleges and universities. Yours was one of them. Congratulations! Your initial marketing tactics worked. Google found 75% of prospective students do not consider options beyond their initial school and program list, but how will she decide between her three front-runners and choose to move forward with enrolling at one of them? The differentiators often come from remarketing tactics.

It’s no longer enough to get your school in front of students in the early stages of their decision-making process, when they’re just starting to consider their options. You need to engage with them throughout the entire process – even after they’ve requested more information about your school or program. Here’s how to do so effectively:

1. Stay top-of-mind by engaging with prospective students across channels

Whether a prospective student filled out an inquiry form on Facebook, initiated a live chat on your university’s website, or called your admissions office on the phone, you should know that your options for re-engagement are not limited to that channel. It’s important to keep your school top-of-mind as students carry on searching, scrolling and socializing across all digital channels, and to engage prospects offline as well.

A mix of remarketing tactics including targeted display ads that reach your prospects while they’re browsing for other things, casual social media posts highlighting the human experience at your school, personalized emails that speak directly to the student’s situation, and glossy direct mail pieces help your prospective students feel not just like you remember them, but like your school has a ubiquitous presence that is reliable and worth investing in.

2. Speak to prospective students differently.

Create marketing content that speaks to students who are closer to making a decision. While your overall creative and messaging should stay consistent to your school’s brand, no matter where a prospect is in the funnel, the content students see after they have already expressed an interest in your school needs to be different. Focus on personalizing your messaging based on the data-backed criteria you know is important to these particular students. At this later stage, Google says, you should think beyond the standard early-stage criteria of cost, program offerings and class flexibility, and begin focusing on more complex factors like faculty, staff and advisor support. Consider offering later-stage prospects longer, more in-depth content that provides insight into what being a student at your school is really like.

3. Inspire prospects to take action with high-value incentives.

When students are ready to apply or enroll, you should instill a sense of urgency through unique, valuable offerings and calls-to-action. Consider highlighting an upcoming priority application deadline, linking to available scholarships, or waiving any application fees. If you’ve already effectively re-marketed to your prospects and made them feel comfortable with and excited about the idea of enrolling at your school, tactics like these could be the push they need to take that next important step.

Consider the Full Funnel

Through our expertise at considering students in every stage of the funnel, thinking across digital channels, and offering high-value incentives to prospective enrollees, Archer Education helps our partner schools create more successful enrollment campaigns from start to finish. Are you ready to take your enrollment marketing to the next level in 2019? Reach out to Archer Education for assistance with keeping your prospective students engaged from first inquiry through enrollment.