Effective recruitment is the key to higher enrollments. You may work at one of the many universities that are beginning to be more thoughtful and strategic about your recruitment strategies. That said, sometimes basic principles are missing. Below are the top 5 things we have seen universities do that may undermine your recruitment efforts.
1. You depend exclusively on email.
Email is cheap, easily customized and can be a powerful tool. For these reasons, it is frequently a go-to technique for recruiting new students. However, email should be just one tool in your tool belt. Overuse of email leads to higher unsubscribe rates — or your emails simply won’t be read.
Use email as part of a portfolio of techniques to engage with and court prospective students. Techniques should also include phone calls, social media, and text messages. When you are trying to reach busy adults, your email will be one of many in their inbox. Use email — but don’t depend on it.
2. You call…when you have time.
If your approach to making phone calls is, “I do it…when I have time…usually” then you’re not alone. This is something we often hear at JMH, but there is no doubt that a solid recruiting strategy must include phone calls and your phone calls need to be timely. This means:
- Dedicating time each day to initiating calls, returning calls, and following up with students.
- Reaching out to new prospective students within the same business day — if not sooner.
- Planning for 2 to 3 attempts at contacting new prospective students.
If you want higher lead-to-enrollment conversion rates, then make phone calls part of your strategy.
3. You only use emails with campaigns.
Recognizing that you cannot always reach someone by phone, use personalized emails as a follow up. At JMH, we use subject lines like, “NAME OF SCHOOL: Sorry I missed you” or “NAME OF SCHOOL: Let’s talk about PROGRAM NAME.” Then, the emails always begin with a sentence that speaks to why you called and some of the top reasons why you’d like to talk to that person.
Not everyone likes to return phone calls and a personalized email gives your prospective student another avenue by which they can reach you.
4. Your first question is, “What questions do you have?”
The purpose of talking or emailing with a student is to build a relationship. Yes/No questions are what you ask when you have a foundation from which to speak, not as a way to begin a conversation. Instead, make your first question or statement one that will help give you a better understanding of who that prospective student is and why they are interested in the program. Our favorite ones at JMH are, “Tell me about yourself” and “Why are you interested in this program? What are your goals when you graduate?” These are great questions that allow someone to open up and will also help you get a better understanding of whether or not your program is a good fit.
5. You end a conversation without clear next steps.
If you reach a prospective student and, through your conversation, you realize they are good fit for your program, make sure to establish a clear next step. This could be:
- Following up in a week if they have not registered for the program or started an application
- Placing them in an email communication plan if they want to wait until the next term
- Enrolling them in an Information Session
Regardless, let the prospective student know that you are going to stay in contact and set expectations for what that looks like. Again, you’re building a relationship, so expect to have more than one conversation or exchange of emails.
You want your recruitment strategy to have an impact. Changing these 5 techniques will improve your conversion rate and the quality of your conversations. Good luck!