Growth Hack Your Enrollment Funnel

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10 things you can do now to improve results for Fall 2017

Decision day is fast approaching and the pressure is on to meet those enrollment targets. You need to convert those started applicants to completed applicants and accepted applicants to enrolled students. Here are a few easy to implement growth hacking tips to help move applicants through your enrollment funnel.

  1. Remarketing: Use Facebook Custom Audiences to send messages to students who have started or been accepted. Highlight your unique value proposition and a sense of urgency in completing the application or accepting their place. You can personalize the messages further by breaking your list into smaller audiences (e.g. by country or interest). Be careful not to get too personal as this might come across as creepy!
  2. Feedback: Survey those at the beginning stage of your funnel (those who have enquired or started the application but have stalled) to find out why they started an application without completing it. You may uncover some problems or misunderstandings that are easy to fix. You should also get some valuable feedback that will help in your planning for the following year. 
  3. Email marketing: When communicating to applicants via email, use catchy “clickbait” subject titles to increase open rates. The term “clickbait” might sound a bit unethical but it’s actually a perfectly good marketing tactic when used for the right purpose – i.e. convincing the recipient to open an email which contains information of value to the reader. Take this article for example. I could have used a subject title of “Marketing techniques to improve your applicant conversion rate”. I think you’ll agree that the one I used was more appealing. So instead of using email subject titles along the lines of “Your application deadline is approaching”, try one that stirs some curiosity such as “5 reasons why you belong at {your school}”. Once you’ve discovered which subject titles have the best open rates (this is called A/B testing), use the best performing titles in automated emails within your CRM or marketing automation software.
  4. User experience: You’re an experienced professional who understands the student decision journey. But knowing which factors are important to prospective students is only one side of the equation. You also need to understand how those decisions translate to their online experience and usage behavior. Go through the online journey yourself. Use many different perspectives such as starting from an international version of Google and using a mobile device. This might highlight areas where your website needs improvement. Some will be quick fixes, others will require a lot of design and technical work. Fix the small stuff for quick results.
  5. Press hack: Whether it be Trump’s immigration policy, Brexit or other populist news stories, you wouldn’t fault international students for being hesitant to study abroad at this time. Turn the negative stories into positive branding opportunities by writing good quality articles on why your school is a safe, friendly, welcoming environment for international students. Not only will this paint your school in a positive light, it will increase the desirability of your school in the minds of prospective students and their parents, both at home and abroad. A well-written article released through the right online channels can quickly spread to major news outlets and lead to further opportunities for positive PR. 
  6. Community Relations: Use Mention.com or Fresh Web Explorer to get alerts of when your school is mentioned on one of the social media sites such . Have one person in your organization be responsible for reviewing the messages and joining in the conversation. Be genuine and positive even if the comments are not favorable. Negative comments are an opportunity for your team to correct a misunderstanding which can only be beneficial to your school’s reputation. 
  7. Referral incentives: Spice this one up a little more and include a referral bonus for any students who enroll as a direct result of the accepted student posting their acceptance in their social circles. Use a “come join me at {insert your university}” call to action linked to a dedicated landing page with embedded tracking code and see if more students enter your enrollment funnel. {caveat: please abide by your university’s rules when it comes to financial incentives for referrals}.
  8. Community offline: Every student loves to show their university pride and what better way than with t-shirts. Print t-shirts with your university logo and the message “I’m attending {insert your university}. Class of 2021”. Send them to your accepted students. This may just tip the balance for those students weighing up multiple offers. For those already committed to attending your university, it will help promote your brand in their social circles.
  9. Social + community: Have your accepted students take a selfie in their t-shirt and send it to you for inclusion in an incoming freshmen class Facebook group that you’ve set up. Enrolled students will want to do it because they will want to chat with other incoming freshmen. Create a sense of belonging for those who are accepted but not yet committed. If they feel like they belong at your school, they will be far more likely to accept.

Trying something new at this stage might seem a little daunting and easy to put aside for a later date. If anything on this list strikes you as appealing, we’re here to help to your reach your enrollment goals. 

What have been your best recruiting growth hacks? Share with us on Twitter @AlecfromHop.

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