Cara Skikne

Increase lead conversion to boost enrolments


Universities spend a lot of time and effort generating leads and increasing traffic to their websites. Paid advertising, webinars, events, marketing tactics are paired with data and personalised content to strike a balance between quantity and quality when it comes to getting leads. While keeping this balance is key to maintaining a healthy pipeline, such efforts might be in vain without the right lead conversion approaches and nurturing strategies.  

“As students on average apply to 4 or 5 universities, as a rule of thumb, the conversion from application to enrolment should be about 20%” – Thijs van Vught, Director Analytics and Consulting Team, Studyportals  

Use insights from data  

It is more important than ever to track conversion rates over time and understand your lead sources. By using insights from data, universities can understand how their conversion process through the funnel and use this information to guide their conversion strategies. Instead of spending more resources on generating more leads, universities can analyse their internal processes and see if the conversion rate from lead to application and from application to enrolment can be increased. 


Measure conversion rates to assess messaging 

If only less than 70% of applying students get admitted, this could mean that the messaging on the requirements is not as clear as it should be. Students may either have insufficient information on those requirements or they may misunderstand them. In such cases, it may be a good idea to adapt the messaging for better clarity. 

Data from analytical tools can provide plenty of information about site visitors, such as where they came from, how many pages they have visited, which device they are on, and more. Universities can use this information to deepen their understanding of their prospective students, create better segmentation, and craft personalised messages and content accordingly.  

For example, if a university knows that a visitor clicked on an ad about online courses to get to their website, it can adapt the messaging to emphasise their strengths when it comes to such programme offerings. 

Follow up in a timely fashion  

What is done after leads are generated equally is at least as important as generating those leads in the first place. Students usually expect to receive the information they need right there and then – while they’re feeling inspired and motivated. Using a lead scoring system to categorise those leads and creating a follow-up schedule are some ways to ensure that the follow-up strategy can be executed in an organised and timely manner. The sooner they receive a follow-up, the more likely they are to respond. 

In general, it is important for universities to follow up in a timely manner when the student makes an enquiry. Students may also make inquiries to multiple universities at the same time. This will influence the students’ perception of the university and cause them to expect similar standards of services and attention across institutions. 

Have a clear communication framework 

Universities should have a clear communication strategy that specifies how they will follow up on offer letters and respond to enquiries. While automating some of these processes can save time, being more personal seems to be better when it comes to communicating with students. This means that calling or texting via WhatsApp are often better options than sending an email. Because so many emails get buried and end up being unread, students are much more likely to read the message and respond if it is sent via an app they use every day for personal communication.  

While creating a scoring model and sending out personalised responses can get complicated quickly, universities can remain consistent in demonstrating the attention they provide by, for example, sending automated follow-up messages for a thank you or welcome message within a day after a lead expresses interest in their programmes. An additional advantage to this is that they can experiment to see which templates are the most effective. 

Limit processing application times  

Students today have more options than ever. It has been shown that 80% of graduate students enrol at the institution that responds to them first, so a long application processing time that takes months could be a reason why your prospective students jump ship. Consider reviewing the process and supporting it with tools that will reduce human error and speed up response times. 


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