Posted: July 29, 2015
If your institution is one of the many higher education institutions looking to increase enrollment, lead generation may be your most effective tool. However, lead generation campaigns are often where higher education institutions miss the mark. With a little bit of planning and strategic thought, conducting a successful DIY lead generation campaign is well within your reach.
Before delving into the tools and software in your institution’s lead generation arsenal, it is important to make sure your marketing team has nailed down a solid strategy. This starter kit covers the primary pieces beyond advertising and content marketing that you should invest in to ensure you are driving leads.
People are extremely unlikely to give you their contact information if you haven’t promised them something of value in return. By virtue of this fact, a great offer is an essential piece of any lead generation campaign. Sometimes your offer is simply an opportunity for someone to reach out for a call or “request more information.”
Other offers may need to provide more direct value. For example, when there is a lot of competition around the type of degree or program you’re promoting (MBAs come to mind) or if your audience doesn’t know much about your institution. Some examples of valuable marketing offers may include campus tours, personal phone calls, examples of course syllabi and literature.
You’ve inticed the user to click on your ad, and now it’s time to turn them into an actual lead you can nurture through the sales funnel. This is where a good landing page comes into play.
A landing page is the webpage to which users are directed when they click on your ad. People are unlikely to spend a lot of time looking around before they navigate away from your site, so your landing page should aim to convert users as quickly as possible. To remind users why they clicked on your ad and to steer them in the direction you want them to take, make sure the content on your landing page aligns with what you’ve promised in your ad. Landing pages should be void of extraneous information that might distract users from doing exactly what they came to do - convert.
You can help users convert by:
- Directing them to their next step
- Reminding them what they’ll get when they convert with phrases like “Talk one-on-one with an admissions counselor!” or “Download our biggest success stories!”
- Giving your call to action (CTA) a prominent location at the top of your landing page
- Minimizing the amount of time they have to spend scrolling once they’ve decided to convert by including your CTA at regular intervals on the landing page
- Excluding your site’s normal navigation to keep users from navigating elsewhere
Your landing page should not be your homepage! Sending users to your homepage will make it extremely difficult for them to find the information promised in your ad and they’ll likely navigate away quickly.
Of course, a contact form is also an essential piece of your landing page. Don’t just throw any old form onto your landing page. Instead, think about what information you actually need in order to follow-up with a new lead. Asking for as little information as possible will make a difference for two reasons:
- Fields like address or home phone number might deter people who are hesitant about giving out this type of personal information.
- The less time it takes to fill out a form, the more likely users are to give you their information.
Usually, a simple name and email address will do the trick for your marketing team.
Nurture Those Leads!
Your offer and landing page were awesome, and you have a ton of leads. Now what? The next steps of the process are just as critical. Ensuring your institution has a well-planned and strategic response to your leads’ expressed interest can help turn leads into enrolled students and future donors.
As your marketing team crafts a plan for lead nurturing, there are many strategic steps you can take to get the right content to the right people at the right time. Some of these approaches include:
Personalize Your Content
Sending bulk emails with content unrelated to users’ specific interests has a low chance of grabbing their attention and encouraging them to engage further with your institution. Your lead nurturing strategy should focus on crafting targeted rather than generic emails and making sure leads receive content they actually want to consume. For example, subsequent emails to a lead who downloaded information about your MBA program should include information about upcoming MBA information sessions or articles showcasing the success of your institution’s MBA alumni.
Catch Users at the Peak of Their Interest
As soon as users submit a form on your landing page, your email marketing system should send them a thank you email.
Craft a series of emails to deploy over the weeks and months after a lead converts. A rule of thumb to consider: don’t send two emails to the same prospect in the same week, and don’t let prospects go a month without seeing an email from your institution.
Move Leads Through the Funnel
Tailor your emails to where your prospects are in the engagement funnel. Emails in the early stages of your flow of emails should offer more information. Later emails should provide users with more opportunities for conversion like signing up for an event or downloading a success story. As leads reach the bottom of the funnel, send emails with information about how to apply.
There’s no doubt that lead generation is a complicated endeavor. No matter which cutting-edge tools you plan to use, no lead generation campaign can reach its potential without these basics. If you take the time to think strategically about your offer, your landing page, and how you’ll nurture leads, your institution is off and running toward finding the best fit students and increasing enrollment.
Of course, this starter kit only touches on the primary pieces of a good lead generation campaign, and there are many other things to consider. If you are interested in learning more about getting started with your own DIY lead generation campaign, please contact us.