Lead Nurturing For Higher Ed

5 min read

Chelsea Castonguay Stanhope


When it comes to increasing enrollment, finding and nurturing new leads is critically important for higher education. Prospective students want to feel they belong and have a place at your university. In the past, students would apply to a university, then receive an acceptance or rejection letter. Today, this process is much more involved, which is why it is essential to take the time to get to know them as individuals, develop a relationship, and build trust with leads. Nurturing leads can be one of the best ways to help encourage prospective students to put their trust in your university.

Getting started:

Now is the time to get started on developing a lead nurturing plan. Whether your school has one in place that needs to be refreshed or it's a new idea, don't hesitate to reach out to Keystone Academic Solutions to get started. Our approach to your school's needs will help create the right program to help generate more leads and interest in your university. With profile optimization, we will engage and nurture leads generated; with offerings such as Keystone Recruit, our dedicated team of employees focuses on student recruitment with at least nine touchpoints. We focus on growing a prospective student's basic interest and turning them into real, qualified applicants. 

Remember, today's students want to know that the university they choose is going to be the right fit overall. This has evolved over the past few years, and now it's not enough to provide outstanding academic programming. Universities are taking it to the next level to keep a lead's interest and secure enrollment. Students want to know they will get a great return on their investment after graduation and will be well prepared to enter the workforce. Since students have easy access to information regarding universities, it is vital to start a lead nurturing program that's proactive, not reactive.

Be ready to go:

Lead nurturing means your staff needs to be prepared to provide excellent service to a prospective student from the first initial contact until that student is enrolled at your university. Your staff are the front lines in meeting and connecting with a student, so they must be prepared to give the best possible impression. Over time, staff can work with students to develop a deeper relationship, help them through the application process, and ensure they're receiving an excellent experience through enrollment and beyond.

When it comes to information, today's students expect swift responses to inquiries. Students are investigating their potential schools up to 24 months before they begin applying. As a result, they anticipate immediate responses to questions when they can't find the answer for themselves. Delays in response time from your team can result in losing a prospective lead, or it might take more work to regain their interest. Therefore, you need to think about ways to be responsive and proactive to student requests for information. With Keystone Recruit, we practice lead nurturing every day and have seen the impact multiple touchpoints with prospective students have. To get started, make sure your university's information is easily accessible.

Students will want to interact with your school's information through various touchpoints, such as websites, banners, and ads. Therefore, each touchpoint needs to be as enticing and available as possible. Update websites to retain interest, make sure social media accounts are accurately representing the university. Content should be rich, engaging, and exciting to draw in students. In addition, Keystone's Head of Recruitment, Louise Aalerud, recommends creating a sense of urgency that encourages students to interact with your content and you.  

Assign staff to answer prospective student questions promptly. This could be done by creating a schedule with a staff member covering inbound calls and emails one day a week so students can be assured of a swift response. Advertise when staff is available for calls, chat boxes, or emails so students know they can get their questions or issues resolved quickly. These seemingly small steps will set your institution apart from others where calls or emails go unanswered. 

Developing relationships with students is a long-term process and needs to extend beyond the basics of email or social media. In addition to answering chats, staff should regularly check in with their leads to see where they're at in the application process. This might include outreach to parents, calls to students, and meetings (virtual or in-person) with students and their families. Remember, when staff is interacting with students, they should be friendly and engaging, representative of your university.

Make the switch:

If you're finding leads aren't coming to you or are losing interest; it might be time to reevaluate how you're nurturing your leads. If you're taking a reactive approach to pursue leads, it might be challenging to entice today's students. Think about having a quick call with Keystone to explore our new product, Keystone Recruit. We'll help you create a proactive recruitment strategy that will help your university make the most of lead nurturing to see increased results through this service. 

In the meantime, don't hesitate to reach out proactively to prospective leads. As recruiters return from career fairs, have them prioritize reaching out to students directly and assigning staff to help. Be sure to take the time to craft outreach emails or texts specifically tailored to the student's interests or needs. If you know a student is interested in the psychology program at your school, make sure you're sending them information that meets those specific needs, and perhaps mention some clubs or organizations you think they may enjoy. Not only will this stand out from the rest of the emails they'll receive, but it also helps students understand they're important to you and your university. If you're finding an email that isn't engaging, don't be afraid to pick up the phone and make a call. Waiting for students to come to you or follow up on a message is a sure way to lose leads to another, more proactive university. If this seems overwhelming, Keystone and Keystone Recruit are here to step up to this challenge and help you nurture genuine and valuable leads.

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