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Closing the Marketing to-Admissions Loop
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Closing the Marketing to-Admissions Loop


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Executing a successful digital marketing lead generation campaign takes time, money, communication and lots of expertise – luxuries that many admissions offices aren’t always afforded. Communication …

Executing a successful digital marketing lead generation campaign takes time, money, communication and lots of expertise – luxuries that many admissions offices aren’t always afforded. Communication often stalls out between the digital marketers driving the lead generation activity and the admissions team following up with the leads. To get the most out of your investment, you must regularly optimize and tweak your strategy by communicating properly with the prospect post-lead.


-Employing a performance-driven digital marketing approach to help lead more students to your door

-How you can improve your processes and communication between marketing and admissions along the way to get the best return on investment

-Three must-have qualities to look for in a digital marketing partner

Published in: Education

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  • Executing a successful digital marketing lead generation campaign takes time, money, communication and lots of expertise – luxuries that many admissions offices aren’t always afforded. Here’s what you might be up against:Not enough staff/time to executeNot enough budget dollarsPoor/improper communicationExpertise – is it lacking?While you may not be up against ALL of these factors, likely a few of these plague your admissions office.
  • Regardless of whether you choose to work with a partner or not, solid lead segmentation and follow up are critical to the success of any digital marketing campaign. And it’s not uncommon for communication to stall out between the digital marketers driving the lead generation activity and the admissions team following up with the leads. 
  • Lag time between interest and follow-up may not be returning the best ROI for your online recruiting efforts, and you could be leaving potential $$ on the table
  • That’s why it’s important to employ a performance-driven digital marketing strategy to ensure you’re doing everything you can to optimize your return on investment. This means that marketing and admissions should be closely aligned and working together to:define what lead quality means up frontEmploy proper lead segmentation tactics andEnsure proper protocol and streamlined process for follow up andFinally, it’s important to decide what information is important to look for, how often you’d like to receive/evaluate results from your lead generation campaigns, learning from what’s not working and adjusting your strategy as necessary to yield better results.
  • For our first question – how do I define lead quality? 1. First and foremost, if you define your lead quality up front, you’ll have a clearer picture of what your ideal student looks like who would enter into your campaign, apply, and eventually enroll in your program(s). Without defining this up front, it’s hard to employ a strategy that will yield the results you want. 2. To help define lead quality the right way, be sure you’re responding to all leads, regardless of how hot or cold you feel they are. From there, you can determine the medium/lead pool that converts the best and adjust your time/attention/strategy accordingly. 3. Be sure to answer all additional info requests as well, as these people are requesting information directly and these leads tend to be “hotter.”
  • Not all leads are alike! While it’s important to follow up with every lead, as you work through this process, you’ll soon be able to quickly segment leads as hot, warm, or cold and determine which leads should be a priority.
  • But the key to segmenting these leads lies within your staff. Your staff segmenting the leads should have a solid understanding of your communication plan, process and how to get students to the next step. This is often where a CRM system or other recruiting technology comes in to play and can be a helpful tool in managing the communication flow and activity.
  • To jumpstart a strong lead segmentation process, you can start by choosing programs that need the most students, start with leads who fill out the form completely (even the option fields), or target leads that have responded and interacted with you multiple times.
  • You shouldn’t ignore lower priority leads. To hedge against this risk, set up an auto email or use a standard template for each lead encouraging them to contact you for more information.
  • As previously mentioned, your staff needs to be up to speed on your communication plan and have a solid understanding of how to engage students and move them to the next phase in the process. Properly train your staff so they deliver the recruitment experience students expect, and know how to move prospective students through the funnel all the way to enrollment.
  • How you reach out to and interact with leads that come in from your digital marketing efforts is the most important element of your success. You want to be sure you’re contacting leads as soon as possible, immediately or within 24 hours at the latest, and have a strong communication plan in place. Remember that real time leads are always best, so with immediate contact, you can catch them while they are already thinking about you.
  • You should communicate (dependent upon response/preference) 1/wk for at least 6 weeks, then monthly up to 6 months – most of this can be through automated emails and a communications plan
  • Phone calls are usually necessary to close the deal, but often not the first contact point – sometimes multiple emails are exchanged and then a time set up to talk as the decision is being made by the student. Save time by collecting contact preference and working the emails and calling students who are further along in the decision making process.
  • Real time integration with a CRM systems allows for easier tracking of lead flow and follow up. You can also track the number and frequency of communications to help find that healthy balance of over and under communicating.
  • Never employ a long list of requirements students must meet to even fill out the lead form or apply(religious affiliation, years of experience or specific course work, amount of transfer credits). This often frustrates students and cuts down on the lead pool – many times requirements can be met with PLA (prior learning assessment) or non-related coursework that students wouldn’t initially think of as applicable. Give them the chance to see if the program will work for them.
  • Turning digital marketing – specifically search - on and off hurts quality score, account history and lead flow. It’s best to plan in advance for vacations, holidays, etc where counselors are unavailable for follow up by generating auto emails advising leads when to expect personal follow up or when to heavy/lighten up budget as opposed to turning on and off. 
  • Don’t stop working leads too early. Consider employing a reengagement campaign for those leads who may have dropped off the radar for one reason or another. Again, with the help of recruiting technology, this can be easily automated, reportable and requires minimal effort to run after initial campaign set up.
  • And no matter what, NEVER ignore leads no matter how cold you think they are.
  • And finally, here are some things to consider when selecting a digital marketing partner to plan and execute a campaign.
  • All industries will have pressing issues to address and remedy – higher education is no exception. Strategies designed to achieve digital marketing and communications goals should be developed and executed by an industry expert. When choosing who to work with, ask yourself the following questions:Does this vendor monitor industry trends?Does this vendor recognize and use new developments and technologies?Is this vendor up-to-speed on industry standards and best practices? If so, do they implement these standards and best practices within their own organization? Select a partner who focuses on higher education, provides institutions with information on trends and best practices, offers recommendations on when and how admissions teams can adjust digital strategies, and offers a distinct competitive advantage.
  • A good digital marketing partner should strive to execute a performance-driven program that not only creates brand awareness, but also leads more prospective students to your doorstep, improving lead-to-enroll numbers. The true value of a successful vendor relationship is illustrated (and ROI will rise!) if marketing partners can:1. adjust strategies when schools aren’t getting the results wanted,2. communicate with admissions staff regarding lead follow-up, and3. build engaging relationships between institutions and prospective students.
  • And finally, find a partner who is willing to be transparent and educate you along the way. Ask for access to regular reports on campaign performance. A good partner will share best practices, explain why a shift in strategy is necessary, and demonstrate what others are doing well and poorly so you can get the best results from your campaigns.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Adopting a Performance-driven DigitalMarketing Approach: Closing the LoopBetween Marketing and Admissions
    • 2. About Me Ed Ramirez Senior Account Executive – Higher Education Digital Marketing 3 years with Hobsons First generation American of Cuban descent First US-born family member2
    • 3. Agenda What are you up against? Performance-driven digital marketing Best practices for optimizing your digital campaigns/Hobsons Expert Q&A Don’t make these mistakes! What to look for in a digital marketing partner Chat your questions to Hobsons Webinars using the chat feature.3
    • 4. What are you up against? Time/Staff Budget Tedious In-house Constraints Communication Expertise Flow4
    • 5. Seeking outside help5
    • 6. What happens? Yes, I’m interested! X COMMUNICATION Lead Staff Performing Generation Lead Follow Up6
    • 7. Are you optimizing ROI? $$$ (potential?) $$ (current) ROI7
    • 8. Digital Marketing:A Performance-Driven Approach Defining “lead quality” up front Proper lead segmentation Lead follow up protocol and process Communicating, revisiting strategy, and adjusting as necessary to maximize results8
    • 9. So, how do I get started??9
    • 10. Q&A with Hobsons Experts1
    • 11. How do I define “lead quality?” What does your Find the lead Info requests ideal student conversion are “hotter” look like? sweet spot. leads!11
    • 12. How do I properly segment leads? Not all leads are alike – hot, warm or cold?12
    • 13. How do I properly segment leads? Equip staff with a strong understanding of communication plan, process and goals13
    • 14. Where should I start with lead segmentation? Choose programs Start with leads Target leads who that need more who fill out forms interact repeatedly students completely14
    • 15. What about lower priority leads? Stay on top of lower-priority leads with automated communications15
    • 16. What does my staff need to execute successful follow up? Training on communication plan and engagement strategy16
    • 17. When should I contact a lead to follow up? Contact leads ASAP, sooner is better! Within 24 hours at the latest 24 hrs17
    • 18. How frequently should I contact leads? Communication once per week for at least 6 weeks, then monthly up to 6 months18
    • 19. What info should I look for after my campaign goes live? Contact preference from submitter19
    • 20. How can I make communication planning and execution easier? TECHNOLOGY!20
    • 21. Don’t make these mistakes!2
    • 22. What should I NEVER do? Create a long list of requirements students must meet to fill out the lead form or apply
    • 23. What should I NEVER do? Turn digital marketing campaigns on and off ON OFF23
    • 24. What should I NEVER do? Stop working leads too early - Instead, deploy a re-engagement campaign plan - Automate with technology STOPPED24
    • 25. What should I NEVER do? Ignore leads25
    • 26. Choosing a Digital Marketing Partner2
    • 27. What should I look for in a digital marketing partner? Expertise in the higher education industry Monitors industry Up-to-speed on Serves as a best trends new developments practices resource and technologies27
    • 28. What should I look for in a digital marketing partner? Values performance-driven strategies Adjusts strategy Communicates Helps build engaging when something well with relationships between isn’t working admissions staff students and institutions28
    • 29. What should I look for in a digital marketing partner? Transparency and clear communicationEducates you Provides access Shares best Promotes aalong the way to reports and practices/what feedback loop to data others do well optimize results29
    • 30. Questions? Please chat any questions you have to “Hobsons Webinars” now. After today’s event, submit them at:
    • 31. Contact Me Ed Ramirez, Senior Account Executive 513-746-2372 Or submit your questions at: