by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
I ask that question regularly when I’m speaking to college admission professionals at workshops and conferences. Today, I’m asking it to you.
When your school sends a recruitment email or letter to a student or to a parent (regardless of what stage they’re at), what do you want the result to be?
The most popular answers I get are:
- “We want to give them information about something”
- “We want them take action” (i.e. visit, apply, make a decision)
Both those answers make sense, but I want to offer you an even more effective strategy that you should employ. It’s a simple yet highly effective approach that our team has helped numerous colleges successfully execute throughout a recruiting cycle.
Too many colleges simply send emails and letters and then cross their fingers that they are read and acted upon. Instead of just informing, I want you to inform with content and storytelling that consistently creates engagement between your staff and a student or parent.
Put another way, I want you to aim to get a response to many of the emails and letters that you send, while also having them set up, or at the very least tie in with, the next message that will be sent.
Here’s why both of those are vital to any effective recruiting campaign:
- Generate a response. Don’t you want to know what the student or parent thinks about the information you’re sending them? You should because there’s massive value in discovering what’s important to them and what’s not and then using that information to help you and your school more effectively recruit that student and understand their mindset. The problem is most colleges struggle to get and keep the attention of prospective students because their emails and letters overwhelm them with a long list of statistics, facts, figures, and random talking points. That’s not what generates a response or any other sort of significant action. And it’s unrealistic to expect someone to engage without having some consistent interaction first, during which a comfort level and rapport are created. Once you have their attention, your emails and letters need to have a more conversational voice, be shorter in length, and have different calls to action that encourage specific feedback. Finally, generating a response will also allow admissions counselors to have another measure of demonstrated interest for a student and allow them to build on that feedback and cultivate that all-important recruiting relationship.
- Set up the next message. Arguably the biggest thing our team continues to find when admissions departments ask us to review their communications plan is an overall lack of continuity. A lot of comm. flow plans contain a bunch of singular pieces instead of a continual flow, and those pieces usually come from different people instead of one consistent voice. This approach can quickly become confusing for the student or parent and create possible gaps in your messaging. When you deliver a consistent stream of impactful messages, and you let them know what’s coming next, you build trust with your audience via that consistency. I want your students and parents to be expecting the next message and the next step, not wondering if or when it will come.
If your recruiting emails and letters don’t do these two things then you’re making student recruitment harder than it needs to be…and it doesn’t have to be that way.
Do you have a question about this article? As always, I’m only an email, text, or phone call away. Scroll to the bottom of today’s newsletter for all my contact information.
And if you’d like me to offer an outside perspective on your current communications plan or even just review a few of the emails and letters that your school sends, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org You don’t have to be a client of ours, and the only thing it will cost you is time.
Enjoy the rest of your week!