10 min read
10 min read
Let’s start this blog with a personal story!
I remember browsing a few executive education sites to find certification programs for digital analytics. After browsing for a few days, I requested a few brochures by filling out a couple of submission forms. Guess what happened over the course of the next two weeks.
I wasn’t surprised at all! As a marketing professional, I already knew that based on my browsing history, I am already in a cluster of prospects who are looking for marketing certification courses. Also, the moment I filled out those forms, I triggered an automated system that will send me updates about the courses until I enroll in one or opt-out from their subscription list.
Now, think about post-secondary institutions — what could they do if they could gather data about their prospects, find webpages where prospects are spending most of their time, and identify pages they are closing right after visiting? What about the ability to follow-up with prospects who have shown interest in programs by signing up with minimal human intervention?
This may sound like a difficult process but the fact is that it is not. This is a new style of student recruitment that is supercharged by insights that recruiters obtain from data. Many top tier schools have already heavily invested to reform their recruitment procedures, which now consists of modern technology such as marketing automation platforms, data-based marketing, and website tracking.
Think this way: there are thousands of students visiting your website every week. A significant portion of these visitors are your prospects. They found your website somehow. It might have popped up when they searched for their desired program on Google; someone may have recommended your school, or they attended an education fair. A lot of these visitors are from other countries too. Some are teenagers who just want to see a list of programs you are offering or those teenagers’ parents who are looking for information on tuition. Now you are facing questions like “who is visiting the science faculties most?”, “that giant leap in the number of visitors in your professional studies, did that happen naturally or did our recent marketing activity drive more visitors to that page?”, or “why are visitors spending significantly longer time on the tuition and funding page, and why they are closing the residence page within moments?”
You can certainly design a better marketing campaign or reform your recruitment policies if you knew who your prime visitors are, which pages you need to reform or categorize the prospects into groups based on their interests. Using data, you can boost not only the number of enrolments but also the percentage of retention, student satisfaction, and engagement.
There is only one way to generate such insights.
Why data is important? Let’s look at these facts from the McKinsey Global Institute:
There are tons of benefits if you are using data to drive your student recruitment activities. Student recruitment can deploy strategies to see growth in their enrolment numbers. Among plenty of points here I’d like to mention a few so you understand the importance of having a data-driven recruitment policy:
Gaining insights: If you are collecting data the right way and analyzing it correctly, then you won’t have to throw stones in the dark. You can see how your prospects are interacting with your website and get a clear idea about their priorities, interests, and concerns. It is extremely helpful because, in the era of inbound marketing, prospective students find post-secondary institutions through the web. If you are not putting recourses where they need to be, you are losing a lot of visitors.
Measure performance: How do you know that the admission fair you organized helped you to get more quality leads or was it the Twitter or Facebook campaign that brought more visitors? Do on-campus events really work? Finding answers to these questions can be very tricky unless you have enough data in your hand. If you can see a surge of visitors from South Korea within a few days of an admission fair in Seoul, you can tell the event was a hit. Like this, you can quantify the outcomes of the activities by your team and make necessary adjustments.
Quick decision making: If your campaign is not bringing the results you are expecting, you can find the reason within the data you collected through the campaign. Prospect data will help you find insights that in turn will help you decide quickly. Nothing is more convenient than making decisions based on facts!
Interest-based marketing: If your university is focusing on international student recruitment, it is important to know about your prospect thoroughly because this group is truly diverse. A student group from India might not be interested in athletics in the same way students from Spain are. With the knowledge of their interests, you can design effective, personalized marketing content for each group.
Nurturing hot leads: Out of thousands of leads, you can find which ones are truly interested in studying with you. If you can identify the group who just needs a final push to apply, you can prioritize your efforts to convert them rather than going all the way to convince the group who just visited your site once or twice.
The abovementioned factors are only based on the day-to-day activities of a student recruitment team. By looking at them, you can tell data-driven recruitment activities are the next revolution in student recruitment. Globalization is sharply increasing competition, which, in turn, gives more power to the students to choose their desired place to study.
So, we now understand the importance of data. But, why is marketing automation needed? Let’s explore this question in the next section!
A common misconception about marketing automation is that it is only about reducing repetitive work. Marketing automation and data are inseparable. In most cases, data are used to trigger different stages of an automated marketing strategy.
Confused? Here is an example:
I am a student recruiter at X University. I have a marketing policy that needs to be revamped otherwise I will lose all my prospects to other universities in my area. So, I set up a marketing strategy. In my strategy, I will promote my school to high school grads so they signup for more information. Once they signup, I will continuously follow up with them so they apply for admission.
Wait? Did I say I’ll promote? To whom?
See how data and marketing automation are blended? Here if I leverage an automation system that can track activities on my website, then I will know exactly which target group consists of my prime prospects. I will redirect my efforts towards them and the rest will follow through. Without data, your automation strategy will be flawed, and without marketing automation, you will be overwhelmed by data! You really don’t want to manually put all the information you obtained from the prospective students in an excel sheet and then create pie-charts to see the insights — trust me!
Marketing automation helps you from the beginning to the end of your data-driven recruitment policy. Here are a few ways a marketing automation platform amplifies the benefits of a data-driven recruitment policy.
To use data, you first need to have data. Recruitment data can be collected in many ways. Using old methods, students would fill out inquiry forms and the clerk in the admissions office would transfer the information in spreadsheets. In today’s world, that’s just a waste of labor. Using online forms and website trackers, students can sign up for information within a minute and, in return, the information provided by the student is going to be stored in a system.
For instance, you put up a social media post asking prospective students to register to attend an event. The link provided in the post is a tracking link that is created by a web tracker. Clicking on that link, students will end up on a landing page where they will obtain more information about the event. On that landing page, they can sign up for the event using a form. All the data is going to be stored in a CRM, which you can use to further follow up with those attendees.
A data-driven recruitment policy has many stages where data needs to be organized and based on the data, these stages are triggered. Often, this data management work is repetitive and takes a long time. Usually, recruitment teams are on their toes so saving a huge chunk of time is certainly helpful. Using an automation platform, you can easily set up an entire recruitment campaign that will need minimal human intervention to execute.
For instance, an all-in-one automation platform can be used to send introductory communication materials to students when they first sign up. But what if the student prefers to be contacted through email only? Most likely, a student from Asia will ask for email communication from a school in the USA. Here, based on the provided data, an automated platform can select the right channel to communicate. If it detects email, voicemail, or SMS in the primary contact field, an automated message will be sent to that student based on the channel he/she selected. Now, think about doing this manually when you have 10,000 prospects in your system!
Collecting data is the job of marketing automation, presenting it is the job of the presentation/analysis tool you are using, but garnering insights from organized data is up to the individual who is dealing with the recruitment activities. The more volume of data you analyze, the more accurate insights you will be able to generate. The paradox here is: with a gigantic database comes more hours to spend! How will you get those hours if you are running out of time already?
Reducing human intervention can free-up your time. Also, if you are using a system to organize data and present visual reports, you are freeing up more time. For instance, you want to see the average time visitors spend on your website and divide the visitors based on both age groups and regions. With an automated platform, you can simply mark the criteria and it will display the results according to your need.
You can use the saved time to analyze data and brainstorm marketing ideas!
A large set of prospect data brings more hassle to manage. Out of thousands of leads, anyone can easily get lost when multiple tasks kick in, such as how many times someone was contacted, who showed interest, who requested a one-to-one meeting, or who needs help with their admission fee payment.
How about driving all this data into a system that will not only help a recruiter to organize the prospects but also show the activities and tasks that need to be done to convert them?
An automated platform with a powerful CRM is the solution.
If your signed- prospects are all stored in a CRM where you have a pre-set sales funnel with multiple stages, you are one step ahead of organizing these leads. Whenever your prospect is transformed into a hot lead, you simply put that prospect in the advanced stage of your sales funnel in the CRM. In this way, you have a clear idea about your recruitment funnel. Say you have 10,000 prospects and 80% of those are stuck in the signed-up stage of a funnel, you know you need to work harder to move them to the next stage or eliminate the dead leads and bring more quality leads.
By the way, this is a basic function of what a CRM can do with your prospect data. To know more about what a powerful CRM can do, click here.
If I tell you that there are incidents where students eligible for admission are sent rejection letters by accident and by the time the mistake is amended, the student decided to enroll with another school, would you believe it?
Mistakes like this happen sometimes! But, we certainly don’t want this kind of mistake happening frequently, especially with a larger number of prospects, this kind of mistake can be unrepairable.
How can you prevent such mistakes from happening? One of the best ways is to organize all the communication materials in advance so there is zero room for miscommunication.
Let’s take the CRM example. You have multiple stages in your sales funnel: signed-up, quality prospect, hot leads, interested, applied, and paid tuition. Now, if you have been sending emails manually, there might be a chance you are sending a ‘hot lead’ email to a prospect who just went to the ‘applied’ stage from the ‘quality prospect’ stage. To prevent such an incident, you can design pre-set emails, newsletters, or other content for each stage. In this way, every time a prospect is moved to a new stage, he/she is going to receive the dedicated message for that stage.
These are basic strategies where a blend of marketing automation and data can do wonders for student recruiters. Based on the dimensions of your recruitment activity and the number of your prospects, there are many other ways you can use these both together. The potential ways to improve your current recruitment system by using marketing automation and data are nearly unlimited.
You just need to start using these modern approaches. The rest will follow by itself.
Finding the right platform to redesign your recruitment policy is difficult, especially when you are planning to use data to maintain your strategy. It requires a platform that will help you not only with prospect data collection in the form of their information and interaction with your website but also with communication, engagement, and sales activities.
Fortunately, SimplyCast provides you with nearly everything you need.
SimplyCast’s all-in-one marketing platform has over 20 tools including a landing page generator, sign-up form builder, and survey tool to collect prospect data. Sonar, an advanced web tracking tool, will help you not only monitor activities and interactions on your website but also track the sources of incoming traffic. SimplyCast’s state-of-the-art email marketing, SMS marketing, and voice broadcasting tools are extremely efficient when you are communicating with prospects through multiple channels. On top of that, SimplyCast provides a powerful CRM to manage your prospects efficiently and stay way ahead of competitors in terms of lead nurturing.
But the most amazing application available is SimplyCast 360, the all-in-one communication workflow platform. From simple notifications to sophisticated recruitment campaigns, this tool can design nearly every type of campaign. Based on the data provided by the prospects, it initiates automated campaigns. You have the option to edit your campaign as soon as there is a change in your prospect data.
Oh, did I forget to tell you that there is support in place to help you to learn the platform and help with campaign designing?
SimplyCast may be the missing piece of your recruitment puzzle. But, make sure it is first. Click the button below and sign up for a free 14-day trial.