FACT: All of us like to conduct business with people that we know or feel like we know.
Building relationships with prospective families begins with their first point of contact with your school and that’s likely long before they actually reach out to your admissions department. So, how can you start a conversation that builds trust without even speaking to someone? Two words: Lead nurturing.
Simply defined, lead nurturing is an education process that facilitates the development of relationships with prospective families through emails during their journey towards deciding which school is right for them.
Let’s take a look at how you can create effective lead nurturing campaigns for your school.
The lead nurturing cycle
To fully understand lead nurturing, you first must understand that there are three stages along the Family Journey (the path a family takes when deciding on a school):
Each stage of the journey leads the family further into your admissions funnel by providing relevant information that answers their questions and addresses their pain points. The content you send them in your lead nurturing campaign should be created specifically for the stage the family is in, with the ultimate goal of moving them towards submitting an application.
Content can take on many forms including blog posts, webinars, virtual tours, eBooks, white papers, and checklists. It’s important to choose the format that’s appropriate for the candidate’s stage in the Family Journey, ensuring the content is speaking directly to their relevant challenges.
How lead nurturing ties to the admissions process
Admissions department staff are extremely busy and shoulder the responsibility of filling the school to capacity. The idea of adding a lead nurturing strategy to their admissions funnel management can seem daunting – until they understand how it can be automated and will actually help streamline their admissions and marketing tasks.
Here is how the admissions process plays out in a typical school:
- The marketing department builds a very robust website in an effort to communicate as much as possible.
- A prospective family begins their search online and visits the website where they try to absorb all of the information.
- The family then may (or may not) choose to fill in an inquiry form to either speak to someone or book a tour.
- During the tour, the admissions team member tries to convey all the features and benefits of an education with their school and the family tries to think about all the questions they have.
- After the tour, the admissions team will try to remember to email the family to check-in on their decision-making progress.
- The admissions team either hears from the family because they submit an application or, they never hear from them again because another school captured the family’s attention by having a strategy in place that developed a stronger relationship.
Sound familiar? In this scenario, the touch-points are inconsistent and are almost entirely up to the prospective family.
Here’s how the admissions process plays out when a lead nurturing campaign is in place:
- The marketing department builds a robust, search optimized website that offers relevant information for prospective families and includes content that answers candidate questions and solves their problems with various blog posts and web pages.
- Prospective families initially get to KNOW the school as they begin their search online.
- Prospective families find compelling information on the website that answers their questions and they spend quite a bit of time engaging with the content. They LIKE the school when what they’re seeing aligns with their values and needs.
- The families then come to see the school as a valuable source early on and as TRUST develops , they offer up their contact information in exchange for something they see of value such as downloadable checklists, guides, virtual tours, etc., because it is helping them navigate the journey to deciding on a school.
- Upon filling out a simple contact form with their information, the family is added to the school’s database where a series of automatic emails are triggered to send relevant content at timed intervals that help build a relationship and keep your school top of mind.
- The family feels a connection to your school culture BEFORE they speak to your admissions department.
- After their tour or conversation with the admissions department, the lead nurturing continues with content that conveys your school’s story and helps them understand the steps to apply.
- The mission appropriate family chooses to apply to your school and your team celebrates a successful journey.
In this scenario, the marketing and admissions departments take the lead in developing the relationship while reducing their workload.
An effective lead nurturing strategy will create a connection between your school and a prospective family. This connection is the foundation of a relationship that will move the family through the admissions funnel by telling your school’s story in a way that solves problems and builds trust.
Without this strategy in place, you’re leaving the entire process in the hands of the family and the door open for another school to form a bond with the family.
With some up-front time investment to plan the strategy, you’ll be able to propel the right families through the family journey all while reducing the stress placed on the time and resources of your admissions department.