The Key to Successful Enrollment Marketing is Understanding Student Intent


All enrollment marketing, regardless of the type of school, is a response to prospective student intent.

Every prospective student is on a buying continuum: Some are very close to enrolling — they’ve done their research, view your brand favourable, or have some connection to your school. Others are at the very beginning of their journey — they are researching you, your competitors, different program paths, and even whether they want to go to school.

The job of enrollment marketing is to offer choices that are meaningful to where your prospect is in his or her journey.

Think of it as a concentric circle around intent to enroll. Inbound calls and application forms are high intent (but lower volume). An inquiry form is moderate intent — it represents someone sufficiently interested willing to reach out but not ready to apply. Quizzes, downloads, etc are lower intent (but higher volume). As the circle expands volume increases as there are more prospects on the outer edges, than in the middle.

Most schools are way too timid in how they market. They’ve got an inquiry form, which attracts a very specific person at a very specific point in their journey. And maybe some links to their social media accounts. But that’s it.

It’s much better offering too many ways to connect than not enough. Some of your colleagues may perceive it as too “pitchy” but what you are really doing is respecting where your prospect is at in their journey.

Here’s some examples, from high to low intent:

  • Enrollment form
  • Application form
  • Phone number
  • Inquiry form
  • Career Quiz
  • Live Chat / Chatbot
  • School Readiness Quiz
  • Career exploration kit
  • Registration for a Salary Calculator
  • Webinar registration
  • Information Session registration
  • Downloadable White Paper
  • Opt-in to email information
  • Social media follow buttons
  • Links to social media posts

Our Saas tool Virtual Adviser features an awesome tool kit of lead boosting tools for your schools website.

Lead Generation Best-Practices for Schools: How Many Leads Does a School Really Need?

Research has shown that an admission person only needs 60-80 leads per month max. Everything after that represents diminishing returns. The enrollment rate goes down, leads are poorly worked or ignored, and enrollments flat line. Basically you reach the mental capacity limits for your Admission people.

So to figure out your lead goal, just multiply admissions people x 60: If you have 3 admissions people, you need is 180 leads per month, which is usually totally achievable through your own efforts.

You most likely DO NOT need to buy 3rd party leads to increase student enrollment.

Now, the flip side of this, is that you are more likely to have an Admissions capacity issue and not a lead issue. Most of the schools we have analyzed are under-resourced in Admissions, and that’s the real bottleneck for them.

It’s understandable: Generating more higher education leads is easier and cheaper than hiring, training, managing Admissions people.

A client story comes to mind: They were buying a ton of garbage 3rd party leads for years, hundreds of them per month. They switched to a self-generated education lead generation campaign with us, and volume dropped 60% or more. They were understandably anxious. But within a month, enrollment increased as lead quality vastly improved, and the staff had the time and mind space to succeed.


Higher Education Lead Generation for School: Focus on Self-Generated Leads

We’ve found the best-run, highest performing schools generally have a similar philosophy around education lead generation. They focus the majority of their effort on self-generated leads. Referrals, website, Google Ads, social (in that order of importance). Only then do they augment as needed with downstream sources. Downstream might be education portals, pay-per-lead vendors, general advertising.

The best-case scenario is for schools to self-generate all of their leads.

The challenge here is most school marketing takes a “more is better” approach, which results in an insatiable appetite for lead generation. The lead goal is either arbitrary or focused on maximum volume instead of maximum effectiveness.

But schools need way fewer leads than they think. And more is not always better.

Click here to learn how you can generate more self-generated leads with Virtual Adviser.

Meaningful Differentiation

It’s all a little phoney, unfortunately.

Ghandi was a known bigot. Einstein a womanizer. Mother Teresa had a cruel streak. But human nature is to make people one thing or the other, their legacies do not reflect the shades of their characters. Everyone knows Ghandi was benevolant. Einstein a humanitarian genius. Mother Teresa the embodiment of loving kindness.

And that’s basically the nature of a brand — you are one thing, or another. But not both.

Good marketers understand this and as a result their product strategy is one of a “slice of slice”. They create narrower and narrower niches usually within vertical markets. It’s not good enough to be a CRM company, you need to have a CRM for cosmetic dentists to compete against Sales Force.

The big positions are taken, leaving only little ones.

And that also why there are are so many niche products and so many people pumping the next greatest, MUST-DO tactic. It’s a little marketing hill to differentiate from bigger competitors. But that’s all it is.

A more productive way to look at marketing your school (or business in general) is to focus on making your funnel as effortless for your prospect as possible. Make it easy to connect. Add value up front. Give them something.

We focus much of our product development and testing on the language that appeals to the deeply human needs driving a buying decision for a prospective student. That’s why Virtual Adviser comes with pre-written campaigns that we know work, because they’ve been tested and proven with many other schools.

And that’s why we can increase leads and enrollments for your school, year after year.

Click here to learn more about Virtual Adviser.

Or better yet, schedule a demo.

You deserve better leads.

Management: $4.5 Million Reasons You Should Care About Your Schools’ Website

Right now you could be generating 2-3x the organic leads you are currently getting from your website.

The typical career school converts about 3% of the unique visitors that come to their website into a legitimate inquiry. Our clients averaged 8.46% in Feb 2021. The gap between those figures is explained by a few things:

  • Superior copywriting
  • Abundant inquiry forms
  • Focusing the website on what a prospective student cares about
  • A conversion-oriented website template that we developed, and
  • The Virtual Adviser “Career Training Readiness Quiz” we use with all our clients. (The quiz alone converts on average 2.22% of visitors).

So for a school generating 5,000 unique visitors per month, that would be:

  • 5000 visitors/month @ 3% conversion = 150 leads
  • 5000 visitors/month @ 8.46% conversion = 423 leads

Assuming a 7% lead-enrollment rate & a $15,000 tuition, what would translate to:

  • 11 enrollments x $15,000 tuition = $165,000
  • 36 enrollments x $15,000 tuition = $540,000

That’s a $375,000 monthly increase or Annualized Revenue Gain of $4,500,000

I think any school would happily take a $4.5 Million revenue gain.

Now 8% is the average so roughly half our school clients are below that, half above. Programs offered, competition, your brand, the market you operate in, are all factors that influence conversion rate. But what all our clients share is that their leads went up after hiring us.

We offer a terrific add-on service to Virtual Adviser called WebsiteEDU — where we create conversion focused, lead generation websites for clients. It’s not for everyone, but it might be right for you. Click here to learn more.

Recent Changes In The Paid Search Environment And How They Can Affect Your School [VIDEO]

There are even more changes to the digital marketing environment coming in 2021, and at least five of those developments are likely to affect your school. In this video, Tammy Miles, Director of Paid Search Marketing, and Chris Cunningham, Conversion Leader, share: How to guard your school against the potential fallout from these changes The […]

Are You Ready For A Strong January?

Are you ready to support your high-intent Explorers in January? - A post from Enrollment Resources

Typically this time of year, schools would start to see declines in leads through paid search advertising and inquiries from prospective students through their website as folks get busy preparing for the holidays.

But, as we have all witnessed, 2020 has been anything but typical.

Read more