By Ethan Penland, Director of Admissions Services
3 minute read
In major league baseball, there is a saying that has always resonated with me:
“You can’t win your division in April but you can lose it.”
In other words, you cannot win your division at the start of the season, but if you don’t start off on the right track, you sure can remove yourself from the conversation of winning it down the stretch.
Well, recruitment is very much the same way. Sure, you aren’t going to meet your enrollment goals in November, but if you aren’t doing the right things in the fall semester, you may come up short on your enrollment goals later in the year.
There’s a factor that I’m consistently seeing separating the “contenders” from those who are falling short in recruitment. It’s something that everyone has the ability to do, but only a few are doing it effectively, especially at this time of year. That factor is how they are conducting their relationship management.
In other words, successful institutions are identifying intentional and strategic touchpoints to have with their audiences.
What we see at Tudor Collegiate Strategies is many institutions only scratch the surface and provide a very minimal level of engagement. Many times, the level of engagement is limited to a few drip campaigns with transactional calls to action and reminder notifications around particular deadlines.
This is not a strategy that moves the needle. To meet enrollment goals in today’s climate, you have to be more intentional.
Here are three questions I encourage you to ask your team, or ask yourself if you want to improve your relationship management:
- How are we ending our emails? Are all of your emails ending with only an actionable call to action? Are they ending with the phrase, “Let me know if you have any questions”? These endings to emails are not engaging, nor are they allowing for a relationship to take place. Instead, strategically ask intentional and non-transactional questions that give you a perspective into who the student is and where you can carry the conversation. This will help you motivate the student to take action on desired CTAs later.
- What do our follow-up conversations look like? Many admission professionals will have a meaningful conversation with a student, but they rarely follow up with those students on how impactful the conversation was for them. Give students the satisfaction of feeling appreciated, especially when you found joy in chatting with them. Make this an office-wide approach to creating and engaging meaningful relationships.
- How are we following our students in their search journey? Has this sequence ever happened to you? First, you talk to a student about taking an actionable step. Next, the student says they will complete the task. After that, you don’t hear from the student for months. Finally, a mass email has to go out around deadline time to notify students that they need to complete that same actionable step (your student receives it). This is an extremely common occurrence, but in order to be effective in relationship building and relationship management, this sequence needs to come to an end.
Admission professionals should be monitoring the actions of students they have directly engaged with, and creating an intentional follow-up plan instead of relying on the student to take action or waiting until a mass email needs to be sent out encouraging students to take action. For a student to receive a text or an email from the person who they spoke with a few days prior about completing the action step, two things will happen: 1. The student will feel individualized 2. The student will feel a sense of belonging at your school. I promise you that students completing actionable steps will increase by having a more intentional personalized approach to engaging them at certain points in their journey.
I recognize there is never a good time to stop, evaluate and implement a new strategy, especially in the midst of fall recruitment. But I challenge you to do so over the next few weeks because there is still time to adjust your strategy and maximize your effectiveness which can have a significant impact on students when they start their evaluation of where they will be going for their academic career.
If you found this article interesting, helpful, or engaging, that’s awesome! Feel free to pass those comments my way, but I would greatly appreciate you passing this article along to whoever could also benefit from the read. If anything resonated with you that you would like to discuss further, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to start the conversation!