July 13, 2017
4 Ways You Can Use This Summer to Improve Enrollment
Your incoming class of freshman and transfer students may already be packing their bags and registering for classes, but it’s never too early to start planning for the next round of applications and acceptance letters. Summer is the perfect time to take a look at your past enrollment efforts and figure out where you can make improvements.
The improvements you make over the summer don’t have to be major ones. The two and a half months between graduation and orientation go much too quickly and big enrollment boosts require organized strategic plans that could take one year or even several to flesh out and develop (though summer is the perfect time to start planning). Take the summer to start improving your enrollment with small changes to your website, marketing plan, and more.
Refresh Your Website
Your website is your digital front door. And while it can be a place that your entire campus community finds useful, your prospective students should be your main focus. Make sure your website caters to their needs and answers their questions.
Your site must be focused, with tight, organized content that displays a clear message. Take the summer to go through your current site and see whether it clearly and quickly answers questions prospects want answers to, questions like:
- “What academic programs does this school offer?”
- “How do I qualify for financial aid?”
- “What student life opportunities are on campus?”
Check out these past KDG reports on what prospects do and don’t want to see on a college website. They’ll give you some tips. And with a higher ed web design team at your side, these changes will be ready just in time for a new wave of early applications.
Up Your Social Game
In a recent survey of young adults in “Gen Z,” 78% said they use Snapchat daily, 76% said they use Instagram daily, and 66% said they use Facebook daily. Facebook is lagging behind other social media sites like Snapchat and Instagram, so if you’re hoping to recruit Gen Z students to your school, you’ll need more than just Facebook.
If you’re going to set up any social media account for your school this summer, go with Snapchat. It’s free to use and its automatic alerts ensure that more people see the content you’re posting. (For an added advantage: create geofilters, which allow people within a certain area to overlay their Snapchats with your school logo, motto, or other graphic.)
The power of social influence cannot be ignored. Create an account that your current students will engage with and share. Those posts will undoubtedly end up on the phones of prospects. Even better, find a group of current students to run your social media campaigns. Posts from students are more authentic than posts from officials in your communications department.
Dig Deeper into Student Data
What do you truly know about your prospects besides what they fill out on their application? Get to know them on a deeper level by investing in a big data CRM tool.
For example, ReachBright gives you a minute-by-minute breakdown of where an individual prospect spends time on your site, from the financial aid page to the library’s webpage. Then it sends automated, custom marketing emails to them for increased engagement. It also tracks gift history (and whether their family members ever gave gifts to your institution), as well as event attendance.
It’s best if you find a tool that keeps all of this important information in one place. Tools like ReachBright won’t improve your enrollment automatically, but they’ll give you the tools and the info you need to make the best decisions for your admissions department. ReachBright makes sure no prospect gets lost or overlooked by sending them frequent, targeted emails and by sending you daily engagement reports.
Use the summer to invest in a tool like ReachBright and learn how it works. Send emails early so you can start identifying who your prospects are and what they’re interested in.
Don’t Forget About the Parents
While you’re trying to engage prospects, don’t forget about another important group that’s just as influential as your students: parents.
Parents are extremely involved in the college decision process. They visit campuses, attend financial aid seminars, and help with applications. While they might not choose where their child ends up in the fall, they play a huge role.
Just as you use current students as ambassadors for prospects, use parents of current students as ambassadors for prospective parents. Take this summer to identify parents who have actively volunteered or donated to campus. Create and send out surveys to involve more parents. Identify the ones who are pleased with your institution and all it’s offered their child.
These parents can serve on panels at open houses or call prospective parents during the application process, answering questions about financial aid, academics, student life, campus safety, etc. They’ll give a unique perspective. Just as current students let prospects walk in their shoes, parents can do the same.
There’s nothing wrong with starting small. Improving enrollment can be daunting task to take on all at once, so use this summer to make a few small changes to the ways your institution currently attracts and engages prospects. After all, starting small can ultimately lead to a big difference.
Filed Under: Enrollment Management