Measuring lead quality and why conversion in king

by jon 21. January 2011 01:57

In strategy meetings with Director’s of Admissions, and Senior Marketing Managers the majority of marketing objectives communicated are focussed around lead generation.


Now these schools are not new brands, they have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in the past building awareness of their institutions and programs.


I ask myself, is this solely about market share, every school fighting for similar demographics, and the one having the biggest wallet the ultimate winner. I foresee the traditional marketing channels becoming noisier than ever as I listen to our clients ask if they should allocate more dollars for PPC, increase online ad buys, create and launch viral campaigns on social networks, or develop cell phone applications.


Don`t get me wrong all are great ideas if the plan and numbers support their lead generation strategies. All will help generate applications and eventual starts.


One thing we find that is almost always overlooked, but one that that follows the universal marketing truth that it`s always cheaper to engage a past inquiry than find a new one, is lead conversion. Historically schools spend a disproportionate amount of time and money on generating new leads VS putting in place conversion strategies for their current and past inquiries – in traditional direct marketing terms, their house file.


Your school`s conversion strategy can be executed in the form of email, direct mail, SMS, phone or a combination of each. We find that including one which can be virally passed to friends and subsequently generate new leads will prove most effective – email is our recommended choice for cost, speed to market, ease of engagement, viral capacity for pass-along and subsequent lead generation, tracking.


The benefits of an email conversion strategy are:


·         Allows schools to set in place a predetermined contact cycle based on prospects actions or non-actions i.e. all inquires to receive welcome email, inquiry hasn`t set an appointment, inquiry failed to show for an

         appointment, inquiry interview but didn`t apply, inquiry applied but cancelled application, inquiry was deferred due to grad date but is now workable, etc


·         Speed to market allows schools to bolster a class start close to deadline


·         Allows schools to soft launch new programs via past inquires and alumni


·         Allows schools to lower overall cost per start


·         Allows schools to circle back on inquires that they might not have be able to follow-up with


·         Allows schools to pull targeted segments of past inquires and match them to upcoming school events geared toward enrolment


·         Allows schools to lower start rate attrition by staying in contact with applications close to class start via info sessions, newsletters, etc


·         Allows schools to connect with a large number of inquiries, put their response mechanism at their finger tips and begin to track how a campaign resonates minutes after it has dropped.


·         If your admissions department is measured on overall inquiry conversion then accessing past inquiries which are already in the system from previous years will help lift these numbers.


In 1 calendar year studentROI generated over 1,500 re-inquiries for a single campus using email conversion strategies we created and executed for them. They are now the top converting school in their system of over 40 campuses.


What we found was that re-inquiries convert to applications and starts at a much higher rate than new inquiries


To get started a school needs to have a database or CRM platform such as CARS, CampusVue, etc that stores their inquiry information. Most schools today also have an e-lead posting platform that adds online inquiries into this system in real-time as well. This might sound obvious to some but we still come across the occasional school that doesn`t collect inquiry information and unless the inquiry became a student has no record of them.


Email conversion strategies are not limited to past inquires – if 80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients – they should include the cross-promotion of continuing education programs to alumni...


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