These are the questions admitted students weigh as they consider which school and program is the best fit. As you surely know, COVID-19 has further complicated the decision. In our survey of prospective graduate, online, and adult degree completion students in May, 34% of students said COVID-19 had changed their plans to pursue additional education—a number I expect has increased since then.
As COVID-19 continues to introduce new uncertainties, it’s important to nurture students right up until they submit their decision, deposit, and register for classes. At EAB, we’ve deployed hundreds of campaigns (which we call Decision IQ campaigns) to help our Adult Learner Recruitment partners convert admits to enrollments. Here are three proven tactics we’ve learned along the way.
1. Optimize your admitted student surveys to gauge intent to enroll
I’m a big believer that student intent should be at the heart of all recruitment marketing. Intent marketing is marketing that is personalized and responsive to students’ behaviors—and we’ve seen firsthand how powerful it can be in generating leads and driving enrollments. It’s important to continue to focus on intent even when nurturing your admitted students. If you don’t already, survey your admitted students to learn whether they intend to enroll at your institution, plan to enroll elsewhere, or are still deciding where to enroll.
Our partners are blown away by the response rate. We see 75 to 85% of admitted students respond to the surveys we administer. Admitted student surveys provide a wealth of data about how your enrollment is shaping up. But these surveys also allow your admissions team to identify which students require an extra nudge before enrolling and prioritize resources accordingly.
2. Triage admissions resources based on student intent
Once you’ve identified students’ intent to enroll, your team can direct their attention where it will have the greatest impact: students who indicated they will “maybe” or “probably” enroll at your institution, but have not yet committed.
First, determine if those students need additional information to make an enrollment decision. In our admitted student surveys, 65% of students who indicate they will “maybe” or “probably” enroll say they need more information before they can commit. And of the students who request additional information, 82% request information about financial aid. Your team can get out ahead of these questions with an easy-to-find financial aid FAQ page.
And of course, don’t forget about students who say they do plan to enroll at your institution. Ensure you’re providing all the information they need to take the next step, such as a deposit deadline or link to your admitted student portal.
3. Uncover competitive intel to inform marketing and program design
So, what about those students who don’t intend to enroll at your university? While you never want to hear a student chose another institution, the reasons non-yielding students share for why they are not enrolling at your school can be incredibly valuable. Deploy an exit survey to understand why students chose another option. Typically, more than 80% of these non-yielding students detail their alternative enrollment plans in the surveys we deploy for our partners.
If you deploy exit surveys to non-yielding students, you should be able to identify:
- Where students plan to enroll—and therefore which competitors are impacting your yield
- Students’ initial level of interest in your institution—how did your school rank on their list?
- The reasons students don’t yield
The results of your “no” survey can also shape your future strategy. For example, you might learn admitted students are enrolling at schools you hadn’t anticipated. From there, you can benchmark yourself against that competitor in terms of cost, time to completion, program flexibility, and other factors which commonly influence adult learners’ enrollment decisions. Or you might find students say they are choosing a more affordable option. That’s a great chance for your team to reflect on how you are sharing financial aid and scholarship information with prospective students and update your marketing strategy.
From building awareness to driving decisions, COVID-19 has introduced new uncertainties into all stages of the enrollment funnel. But by identifying student intent early, you can take some of the guesswork out of your yield management.
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