By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
In last week’s article I talked about authenticity and personalization. A number of newsletter readers sent me emails with follow-up questions (which I’m always up for answering), including asking about appropriate goals and calls to action in their recruiting emails.
It’s important to have a defined goal every single time you communicate with a prospective student or parent regardless of the medium you use – email, letter, phone call, text message, social media, face-to-face, etc.
Right now too many recruitment emails are simply pushing students to sign up for a visit or apply. Both of those are important calls to action, but the more you ask a student to do one or both of those things from the moment they enter your system, the more annoyed most get, and the quicker most will tune you out. Remember, you’re not the only school asking them to visit and/or apply. You need to start building a relationship with the student first.
As I’ve explained before, one of your foundational goals with a lot of the emails you send should be creating opportunities for engagement with your admissions staff. That means having the email come from a student’s counselor, and often times using a question as the call to action, with goal of eliciting a response.
While getting a response is important, there’s another equally important foundational goal you should have each time you hit send on those emails – Telling them why they should choose your school over their other choices.
Prospective students, regardless of the stage they’re at in the process, want you to explain how you’re school is different, why your current students love various aspects of your school, and why choosing your school is the smarter choice. Reciting a bunch of facts and figures isn’t an effective way to do that. The answer is better storytelling.
Without consistently doing that, it’s hard for a lot of students to figure out why your school should be on their short list…and before that happens, why they should even visit or apply.
Here are four things I want you to think about:
- Be well versed on your school’s value proposition. Make sure you understand all the different value pieces that separate your school from others like you, and more specifically, your direct competitors. Keep reinforcing those key messages in your emails and via other communication channels.
- Be more conversational. Don’t sound like every other email in their Inbox. Prospective students want a message that sounds like you: Your voice, your tone, and your average way of conveying a message…not cleaned up and formal. That means it’s okay to have a run-on-sentence, and start a sentence with words like “and” and “but.” The more conversational you are, the more likely students are to read your messages, and the better chance you’ll have to make a connection faster.
- Details, details, details. Emotions and feelings are what this generation uses to help them make decisions. Consistently incorporate sights, sounds, and emotions into your storytelling. Stories influence! The more details you give, the easier it is for the reader to picture what you’re saying, or to visualize themselves doing what you’re describing.
- Incorporate direct quotes from current students as a way to back up a point you’re trying to make. For example, if you want to show how your professors care and what makes your academic environment so special, ask your current students to talk about their classes and interactions with their professors. Same thing goes when it comes to explaining what living in the dorms is really like. Use your current students to help you make your key points. Along with that, don’t edit those student quotes other than correcting any grammar mistakes. Sounding wordy is okay.
It’s up to you to define what prospective students (and parents) should think about something and why that something should be important to them as they go through the college search process.
Take a look at those upcoming emails and see if they do those two foundational things I just discussed. If not, consider making changes now because there’s still time to adjust your strategy and see better results.
Thanks for reading! If you have questions about this article, let me know.